EMIRATES FA CUP
Needham Market 1
After making his long-awaited debut in the last half-an-hour of Saturday’s quickly forgettable FA Cup tie, Jamie Griffiths is hoping he can be the striker his manager has been desperate for.
Richard Wilkins had been confident of having a forward from a higher level on loan in time for a daunting tie with National League high-fliers Dartford. But as had been the story throughout the season so far,the move never went through.
And just to rub it in, a clinical Dartford showed Bloomfields just what can happen when you take your chances — having been 3-0 up at the break from only three shots on target before adding another three in the second period.
But ex-Ipswich Town player Griffiths knows a thing or two about banging in goals, having struck 31 times in 44 games with Long Melford in the Thurlow Nunn League in 2015/16, before an ACL injury ruled him out for the whole of last season.
“It was a massive relief to be back out there,” said the player who made one appearance for Ipswich and had a loan spell with Plymouth Argyle.
“I am still getting fit but the most important thing is I am injury-free and I am hungrier than ever.”
The 25-year-old played three times for Needham Market Reserves before his cameo on Saturday.
“I am probably about 60-70 per cent fit now and I feel like I have a lot more still to give, which is exciting. Hopefully I can get back amongst the goals to help with that.”
Wilkins had said his side would not sit back and soak up pressure against a higher class opponent and he was true to his word as the Marketmen bossed the opening 20 minutes.
But despite two good balls across the face of goal by Luke Ingram, three corners and a Daryl Coakley cross the goalkeeper fumbled, there was no fox-in-the-box — with John Sands’ troublesome foot injury still ruling him out — to convert the pressure into goals.
Dartford, meanwhile, had barely had a sight of goal before they went 1-0 ahead in the 21st minute, striker Alfie Pavey alert to a loose ball in the box, following a free-kick not being properly cleared, to rifle in from an angle.
After Elliot Bradbrook headed over a good chance from a corner, the number nine darted in ahead of Sam Nunn to a throughball and headed beyond Danny Gay in the 34th minute, before ensuring he would be carrying off the matchball with his hat-trick goal with the last kick of the first half, engineering a shot from having had his back to goal.
The second period was not even two minutes old when Needham fell further behind. It was following a Needham corner that Ryan Hayes’ wonderful ball put Tom Murphy through to finish in off the post.
Joe Whight clumsily conceded a penalty soon after, but Gay managed to turn Bradbrook’s kick onto the bar, before a telling block by Dan Morphew.
The hosts got one back in the 66th minute when Nunn headed home a Gareth Heath corner.
But they could not stem the tide at the other end as Andy Pugh’s angled finish from another great diagonal ball by Hayes made it 5-1 with just under 20 minutes to play.
Billy Holland was dismissed for a clumsy last-man challenge seven minutes from time and Hayes added the final nail in Needham’s FA Cup coffin in injury time.
Needham: Gay 8, Dye 7, Coakley 6, Whight 4 (Griffiths 58’ 7) Morphew 7, Nunn 6 (Turner 71’ 5), Holland 4, Heath (c) 6, Ingram 6, Harrison 6, Gibbs 4 (Booth 62’ 5). Attendance: 375
Free Press Man of The Match: Danny Gay