SUFFOLK FA PREMIER CUP
SPONSORED BY OMNI FREIGHT SERVICES LTD QUARTER-FINALS
Needham Market 1
AFC Sudbury 0
Needham Market assistant manager Richard Wilkins believes back-up goalkeeper James Bradbrook is someone the Marketmen can rely on when called upon.
The former Suffolk Under-18s goalkeeper made his third appearance of the season in goal for Needham’s first team in Tuesday’s 1-0 victory over AFC Sudbury in the Suffolk Premier Cup.
And the young shot-stopper, who is on loan at lower-league Ipswich Wanderers, put in a man-of-the-match performance in the second half to record a third clean sheet in as many games.
Bradbrook’s first-team appearances for Needham have mostly been restricted to cup games, with his last league appearance back on March 15.
But assistant boss Wilkins insists he has no qualms about the academy graduate getting more chances to impress in between the sticks for his side.
“I think he’s learning his trade,” he said. “I think Danny Gay (first choice goalkeeper) has been exceptional as well.
“It’s nice to have two goalkeepers and Bradders can back up Gaysy.
“Gaysy is number one and Bradders is number two. He knows what the story is.
“It’s just very nice to have that opportunity that if Gaysy does get injured you can rely on Bradders, and he certainly hasn’t let anyone down.”
The Marketmen progressed into the semi-finals of the Premier Cup for the third time in four seasons this week, with Reece Dobson’s first-half strike proving to be the winner in a keenly-contested quarter-final clash at Bloomfields.
Bradbrook was called into action inside the first two minutes to keep out Craig Parker’s goalbound effort as AFC made a bright start.
Playing in a changed 3-4-3 formation, the hosts started to find their feet and took the lead on 12 minutes when Dobson showed great composure in the box to fire past visiting goalkeeper Marcus Garnham.
The goal instantly raised the Marketmen, who went on to create plenty of chances during the rest of the half and should have been further ahead at the break.
Dobson, Manny Osei and Luke Ingram were all thwarted by a determined Garnham in the Sudbury goal, while Ingram saw a diving header go narrowly wide of the target.
AFC regrouped towards the end of the half and Bradbrook was called into action again to deny both Luke Callander and Jordan Blackwell an equaliser for the visitors.
As much as Needham dominated most of the first half, it was Sudbury who had the better of the second half, with a combination of poor finishing, inspired defending and good goalkeeping from Bradbrook preventing them from getting back on level terms.
Bradbrook made arguably the save of the night in the last 10 minutes, pushing away a Parker header which looked destined for the corner, as the Marketmen held on to advance to the semi-finals.
“I thought we were excellent in the first half,” Wilkins said. “I thought we should have been two or three goals to the good. It was a bit disappointing to go in only 1-0 up at half-time.
“It’s nice to win and after Saturday I thought it was a good response, first half especially.”
Needham, who were beaten 2-1 by Harrow Borough in The Buildbase FA Trophy on Saturday, host Tonbridge Angels tomorrow (3pm).
Needham Market: Bradbrook, Dye, Coakley (Izzet 60), Nunn, Miller (c), Whight, Holland (Fenn 81), Harrison, Ingram, Osei (Snaith 72), Dobson. Subs not used: Booth, Munson. Booked: Ingram, Coakley, Nunn, Osei, Whight. Att: 174. Free Press MOTM: Bradbrook.