Needham Market boss reacts to departure of Adam Mills alongside boost of incoming players Craig Parker and Joe Neal
Adam Mills’ departure from Needham Market ‘is and isn’t a big deal’, according to manager Richard Wilkins.
The Needham Market Academy product transferred to higher-league Braintree Town at the weekend, making his debut in the opening match of The Irons’ Vanarama National League South season on Saturday.
The wide midfielder was substituted on in the 62nd minute of Braintree’s 2-0 defeat away to Bath.
The 22-year-old impressed at the BetVictor Southern League Premier Central side last term, to attract the attentions of higher-league clubs as he played 47 times and finding the net on 17 occasions.
Wilkins said: “I knew he was looking to play higher, so it’s not such a surprise really. I can’t knock him for wanting that, and for going out to get it, but we didn’t want to lose him if we could avoid it.
“Craig (Parker) has come in and played brilliantly so far though, so I’m not feeling the pressure to bring someone else in, we are in a good place.”
Mills came through the youth set-up at Bloomfields before joining brother Darren Mills at Step 4’s Maldon & Tiptree midway through the 2015/16 season, following a disagreement with then Needham boss Mark Morsley.
Wilkins spoke highly of striker Luke Ingram’s brother Nick, who ‘has been brilliant’ in pre-season and was pushing for a first-team place, as well as new players Craig Parker and Joe Neal, who made an instant impression in last Friday’s home game against AFC Sudbury.
Neal opened the scoring in the 33rd minute of the friendly at Bloomfields, a match to kick off the club’s centenary celebrations, before Parker doubled the score on 58 minutes.
Freddie King, son of snooker player Mark, pulled one back 10 minutes later but the final say was Neal’s with a strike in the 77th minute.
“I’m quite happy with the squad and particularly with young players like Nick and Joe,” Wilkins said. “The squad is in such a great place with a great balance and options.
“We’re just working out which shape works best for them.”
Wilkins also confirmed that Gareth Heath would remain captain, despite a stop-start pre-season due to work commitments, while Joe Marsden and Luke Ingram were well on their way back after injury.
“Gareth just hasn’t had the minutes in pre-season, but will remain as my captain,” he said. “He’s a super fit guy as well so should get his sharpness back quickly.”
Meanwhile, forward Matt Foy has chosen not to make the club his home after the Cambridge United academy product opted to remain in the university town as a Cambridge City player.