FA Emirates Challenge Cup Victory
By MARK EASLEA
The Marketmen made their first trip to The Old Spotted Dog ground on Saturday and despite it being goalless until the hour mark, they turned on the style to win 3-0 against a battling Clapton side.
Clapton, who play two divisions beneath Needham in the Essex Senior League, continue to have greater problems off the field than on it. A large section of fans are disgruntled at the way the club is being run and in the words of the Ultras 'support the team not the regime'.
The first period was a rather quiet affair with neither side having a real clear opportunity.
The hosts had slightly more possession but Needham's defence remained firm. Whilst the visitors' best chances fell to Gareth Heath on both 28 and 29 minutes. Needham's summer recruit headed one wide and one over the crossbar but it was a sign of intent nonetheless.
Half Time: Clapton 0-0 Needham Market
The second half very much belonged to the Suffolk side as the difference in quality began to show.
With 65 minutes on the clock, Needham got the break through via Heath and in turn his first goal in a Needham shirt. A relatively simple finish after his well timed run into the penalty area. As a beer can was thrown onto the pitch by the 'Ultras' from outside the ground, Heath mimicked a swig before celebrating with team-mates!
On 77, Luke Ingram doubled his sides advantage. He guided his first time strike into the far corner and out of the reach of the goalkeeper. Like Heath, it was his first goal of the season, and Needham know just how important he is to Richard Wilkins' side.
6 minutes later, progression was confirmed through Callum Harrisons' superb strike from distance. It's his fourth goal of the season and it's quite some time since he last scored a tap in rather than a wonder goal!
Full Time: Clapton 0-3 Needham Market
A solid performance from The Reds who continue to enjoy life on the road, bouncing back from a disappointing result against Brightlingsea on Bank Holiday Monday. They will find out their opponents in the next round once the draw is made on Monday lunchtime. The league game against Hendon will be re-scheduled following today's victory.
Man Of The Match: Callum Harrison (Needham Market)