SUFFOLK FA PREMIER CUP SEMI-FINALS
Needham Market 4
(Needham win 4-2
by Will Ridgard
at Notcutts Park
Needham Market winger Luke Ingram is dreaming of a league promotion and a cup win in the remainder of the season.
On Wednesday night, Ingram helped The Marketmen reach the Suffolk Premier Cup final by overcoming arch-rivals Leiston, via penalties, in the most epic semi-final.
Locked at 4-4 after extra time, Reece Dobson struck the decisive penalty for Needham, with goalkeeper Danny Gay also saving two Leiston penalties, as The Marketmen, who trailed on three separate occasions over 120 minutes of breathtaking football, won 4-2 on spot-kicks.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a game as good as that,” said Ingram, who scored the goal of the game in the 79th minute, a strike that saw Needham claw back to 2-2.
“For the neutral, it was probably really enjoyable, but it wasn’t so enjoyable for us, especially when we let them score in the last minute (to take the game into extra time)!”
Matt Blake scored the opening goal for Leiston on the stroke of half time, in a first half that was controlled by the Blues, with Needham failing to register a shot.
But The Marketmen were brilliant thereafter, and alongside Leiston, played their part in an all-time classic game of football.
After Ingram cancelled out Joe Jefford’s header, former Leiston striker John Sands looked like he had won the game for Needham in the 86th minute, with a precise header, only for Blake to make it 3-3 in the 92nd minute.
Jake Hutchings gave Leiston the lead for the third time, in the 105th minute, but Sands smashed home a 116th-minute free-kick to send the game into the lottery of penalty kicks.
And it was on penalties where Needham prevailed.
After Sands saw the first spot-kick brilliantly saved by Jacob Marsden, Ingram, Darryl Coakley, and Billy Clark all scored for Needham, while Gay saved from Blake and Ollie Brown, before Dobson hit the winner.
Ingram also praised the heroics of goalkeeper Gay, who made some brilliant saves throughout the match.
“Some of the saves Danny makes are unbelievable,” said Ingram.
“I’m really pleased for him because he’s had a really tough time recently, after losing his dad, but we all love him to bits and I think what has happened has brought us a lot closer to him.”
Needham will now play Lowestoft Town in the Suffolk Premier Cup final, at Colchester United, providing the U’s don’t make the League Two play-offs, on Monday, May 8.
“I’m a bit gutted that the final is not at Portman Road, as I’m a big Ipswich fan,” said Ingram.
“We’re really looking forward to it, and once we’ve won the Ryman Premier play-offs (the final is scheduled for May 1), we’ll win the Premier Cup!”
Optimism is high at Bloomfields as The Marketmen, who travel to Hendon tomorrow (3pm), look to build on their magnificent semi-final win this weekend.
Needham Market: Gay, Dye (Clark 90), Coakley, Morphew, Miller, Whight, Ingram, Izzet (Sands 69), Dobson, Norman, Simmons (Holland 73). Subs not used: Crisell, Bradbrook. Free Press man of the match: Luke Ingram. Referee: O Morris-Sanders. Attendance: 287.