Signing spree helps soften double blow

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NEEDHAM Market have suffered two major setbacks in the transfer market, but moved to bring in seven new players during a busy week at Bloomfields.

Talisman midfielder Craig Parker, who scored 41 goals last season, has not renewed his contract and instead joined Blue Square Bet South outfit Chelmsford City, while goalkeeper Danny Gay has also left.

However, the Marketmen have moved swiftly to sign 40-year-old Gavin Johnson from Walsham-le-Willows, as well as ex-Bury Town players Scott Chaplin, Ashley Sloots and Ryan Foster, Hadleigh United captain Duane Wright, Soham Town Rangers’ leading scorer Deakin Napier and 21-year-old goalkeeper Andrew Plummer.

Needham general manager Andy Gould said: “We are not finished yet – there may be one or two more coming in and one or two going, but we have done the bulk of what we needed to.

“We are delighted with the way things have gone, but also disappointed with the loss of Craig and Danny.”

Bury St Edmunds-based Parker was watched by a number of scouts last season, including Southend United boss Paul Sturrock, and has scored 112 goals in 176 matches during a prolific Needham Market career.

“He goes with our blessing,” said Gould. “He’s been a great servant to Needham Market Football Club and his goal record speaks for itself.

“Off the pitch, he’s been a model player in everything you could ask of him.”

Parker and Gay, whose contract also expired, have been joined out of the Bloomfields exit door by left-back Ben Wake, former Bury midfielder Michael Steward and striker Rhys Henry, while Christy Finch has returned to Lowestoft Town.

Heading the other way were seven players with a mixture of experience, backgrounds and success.

Three of them were part of Bury Town’s Zamaretto Division One Midlands title winning side of 2010.