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Ten-Man Town Exit Suffolk Premier Cup
Wednesday, 21st Feb 2024 00:08

In what proved to be a proverbial game of two halves, a young, ten-man Town XI were beaten 4-2 by Needham Market in the semi-final of the Endeavour Automotive Suffolk Premier Cup at Hadleigh United's Millfield ground on Tuesday evening.

Coaches Matt Pooley and David Wright fielded a side that comprised a mix of scholars and young pros with Matt Ward, Osman Foyo and Rio Morgan all included from the start and adding a bit more experience than has typically been seen by Town sides fielded in this competition in recent years.

The Marketmen - with former Town midfielder Kevin Horlock in charge - included a number of familiar names in their side with Tommy Smith at left-back, Byron Lawrence in a central midfield role and Kyle Hammond on the bench all having come through the Town academy.

Keeper Marcus Garnham and centre-back Kieran Morphew have featured as trialists with the Blues previously, while striker Seth Chambers was also on trial at Playford Road just last month.

Horlock's side came within inches of taking a ninth-minute lead when Tevan Allen's inswinging corner from the left was met by Dan Morphew, who powered his header off the underside of the bar before the ball was cleared away to safety.

The deadlock was broken just two minutes later though when Luke Ingram played a ball across the box from the right side and Needham frontman Jamie McGrath side-footed the ball into the bottom corner.

Garnham was called into action soon after when he initially did well to push Jesse Nwabueze's snapshot wide, before the resultant corner was played short to Morgan who again tested the keeper with a curling shot. The rebound was hooked goalwards but Kieran Morphew and Garnham combined to prevent the ball crossing the line.

The young Blues started to come more and more into the game and they deservedly equalised on 25. Foyo burst forward from midfield and released Tom Taylor (pictured), who produced an impressive finish to beat Garnham by placing the ball into the far bottom corner of the net.

Ten minutes later Foyo played the ball out to Ward on the right and he delivered a fine cross that Nwabueze headed towards the far top corner, only for Garnham to claw the ball away from danger.

Ward was next to test the Needham keeper with a stinging left-foot shot from the edge of the box after being teed up by Nwabueze, but Garnham got down well and produced a good block.

At the other end, McGrath latched onto a long ball forward but he rushed his low shot which was saved with ease down low by Binns.

Town deservedly took a 2-1 lead into the half-time break though when a Foyo mis-kick on the edge of the box fell kindly to Nwabueze, who comfortably tucked the ball past Garnham with just a minute of the half remaining.

The non-league side started the second half well and they had a couple of early chances to level the scores, but Ingram fired wide of the target twice in a matter of minutes, and Binns then made a good save to deny Chambers.

On 68, a loose pass back towards Binns was latched onto by Chambers who rounded the keeper, only to be denied by a fine last-ditch dive at his feet from Binns who smothered the ball before rising to applause from followers of both sides.

It felt like the Town goal was living a charmed life and it only survived another four minutes before the scores were levelled - a long throw was flicked on to Allen on the edge of the box and his volley found the bottom corner of the net.

Despite coming under more pressure than they had in the first half Town were certainly providing some stubborn resistance, up until the 76th minute when influential midfielder Foyo was shown a straight red card after an off-the-ball altercation with Ingram, in which he was adjudged to have raised his hands.

Just three minutes later the youngsters fell behind when Jacob Lay's shot from the edge of the box was parried by Binns, and Chambers was first to react and he tapped the ball into the empty net.

Town pushed for a late equaliser but ended up getting hit on the break in stoppage time when Allen beat his man on the right and found Chambers with his cross, and the forward powered his header beyond Binns from close range.

It was an impressive first-half display from Town with Foyo and Ward standing out, but Needham evidently regrouped at half-time and ultimately the Blues never recovered from being reducd to ten men.

As it was, the Southern League Premier Division Central side took enough of their chances after the break to secure their place in this year's final, where they will meet the winners of the other semi-final tie between Felixstowe & Walton and Leiston.

Town XI: Binns, Nkansa (Domi 51), Adebayo, Iorpenda, Curtis, Towler, Ward, Foyo, Taylor, Morgan (Uzor-Grey 83), Nwabueze (Mauge 83). Unused: Fleischer, Graham. Att: 132.

Photo: TWTD

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