Match Preview: Needham Market (N)
Stowmarket Town’s early season road trip continues tonight with a clash against Needham Market in the semi-finals of the 2019-20 Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup.
While both sides’ league campaigns last season were cut short due to Covid-19, the final stages of the county’s leading cup competition have been salvaged, with both semi-final ties being played at neutral venues this evening.
Stow take on neighbours Needham at AFC Sudbury, while the other semi-final sees Bury Town and Lowestoft Town face off at Felixstowe & Walton United.
Rick Andrews’ men are the lowest ranked of the four sides left in the competition, with Needham and Lowestoft both two leagues above at Step 3, and Bury a league higher at Step 4, but a win tonight would take Stow into their first Suffolk Premier Cup final in 23 years.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of tonight’s game…
Needham Market v Stowmarket Town / 2019-20 Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup semi-final / The MEL Group Stadium (AFC Sudbury) / Tuesday 15th September 2020 / 7.45pm kick-off
Setting the scene: A comeback penalty shootout win against league rivals Brantham Athletic, back in March, took Stow into the semi-finals of the Premier Cup for the second consecutive season. The semi-final draw provided a tasty encounter with neighbours Needham Market, and tonight the tie will take place at AFC Sudbury’s The MEL Group Stadium.
What’s the team news? Again it will be a case of shuffling the pack for Rick Andrews tonight. The Stow boss was boosted by the return from injury of Craig Parker at the weekend, but the midfielder is cup-tied this evening, having played at Needham last season. Luke Read serves the final game of his suspension, while Christy Finch, Danny Cunningham and Jamie Shaw are all carrying knocks.
How are Needham doing? Tonight will mark the first competitive game since the restart for Kevin Horlock’s Needham, who have looked in impressive form during pre-season. The Marketmen, who play two leagues higher than Stow, won six of their seven friendly games, losing only to higher-league Braintree Town. Needham were in 13th place in the Southern League Premier Division Central table before last season was cut short. This weekend will see them kick off their sixth consecutive campaign at Step 3.
What happened last time we met? Stow and Needham swapped places in the Thurlow Nunn League setup at the end of the 2004-05 season, with Stow dropping from the Premier Division into the First Division, and Needham finishing runners-up in the First Division to take their place. Since then, the Marketmen have won two more promotions, from Step 5 to Step 4 in 2009-10, and then from Step 4 to Step 3 in 2014-15. Tonight’s clash will be the first competitive meeting between Stow’s and Needham’s first teams since October 2009. The Marketmen ran out 3-0 winners on that occasion in a Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup second-round tie at Greens Meadow. One year before that, in October 2008, Stow prevailed 1-0 over at Bloomfields, again in the League Challenge Cup.
One to watch: Having now firmly established themselves at Step 3, there will be plenty of players to keep an eye out for from the opposition tonight. Keiran Morphew, Jake Dye and Luke Ingram are three long-serving players in the Needham squad, while summer signing Ben Fowkes will be more familiar to Stow fans, having scored 26 goals for Stow’s Premier Division rivals Norwich United last season.
Any other games tonight? Bury Town and Lowestoft Town meet in the other Premier Cup semi-final, plus there’s four Premier Division fixtures taking place tonight.
Tuesday 15th September
Brantham Athletic v Stanway Rovers
Hadleigh United v Haverhill Rovers
Mildenhall Town v Godmanchester Rovers
Wroxham v Gorleston
2019-20 Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup semi-finals
Needham Market v Stowmarket Town (at AFC Sudbury)
Bury Town v Lowestoft Town (at Felixstowe & Walton United)
All games kick-off at 7.45pm
Coming to the game tonight? Click here to book your ticket