At the end of my last Musings I stated that we had hit rock bottom and had to start again, that first step was in the game against Harrow Borough. The start of some changes saw my ‘surrogate son’ Michael Brothers re-join the team (my thanks goes to Skins and Brantham Ath for helping with this) plus young Will Crisell was called back from his loan and both started.
Bruvs getting ready for the Lewes Defence!!
6th Place Harrow Borough would be a tough game but we were initially looking for a positive reaction to the FA Cup defeat and a performance that would show some signs of being good enough for this division. Well the 4-2 defeat did not really tell the whole story but the biggest plus was that we looked like a team that could compete and build some momentum.
This was shown in how we came back from being 3-0 down to score two excellent goals from Kem and News which pushed Borough onto the back foot. At 3-2 the game could have gone either way and as it transpired it didn’t go our way but a very much different post match team talk was given by the staff. Changes were afoot!!
Next up were Heybridge Swifts in the League Cup, Custodian Shaun Phillips was off to Maldon & Tiptree (replaced by James Bradbrooke who had an excellent game) and in the line up was new signing from Biggleswade Town Jay Davies (again my thanks got to Chris Nunn the Waders’ Manager who acted in the right way, a lesson many clubs could learn from. Chris is a top man, he has worked wonders at the Carlsberg Stadium and he deserves all the plaudits he gets).
The Swifts have also had a tough start to their season but they had a real go up until Bruvs opened his account with a cross cum shot that went into the top corner. From then on the result wasn’t in much doubt with Jay’s debut goal the highlight of the 5-0 victory, it was a 30 yard screamer!!
A League Cup victory was welcome but we need points and a challenging visit to Burgess Hill was next on the horizon. For this game a well known figure came into our building that being Danny Gay to take over the No 1 shirt. Danny was a part of the Needham team that won the then Ridgeons Premier Division and bring a wealth of experience as well as no shortage of ‘one liners’!!
The game against the Hillians started evenly until Bruvs put us ahead midway through the first half, unfortunately an equaliser soon came but we were in the game and that was better than it had been for a while. Our hosts put us under pressure and probably deservedly went into the lead but what followed gave the staff and supporters great heart. That was a real onslaught of our own and Adam Mills’ fine header gave us a deserved point.
Next up was the other team promoted from Division One North last season that being Brentwood. A much changed team and management greeted us and midway through the half we were poor at a corner allowing a free header to put us behind. There was worse to come when we lost Jay Davies (knee) to a very poor challenge and Will Crisell (hip) so at half time we had to make some changes.
However that steely determination we are developing came to the fore and we battered the Blues but we just could not find that goal. Although as it happened we did!?! We had an own goal disallowed by the referee which summed up his performance which was one of the worse I have ever encountered. It wasn’t why we lost because he was poor for both teams but then again maybe it was!!
The Brentwood keeper collided with his defender who nodded the ball into his own net with not Needham player even close but he somehow made a decision that it was a foul!! Bizarre! If that had stood we would have gone on and won the game of that I am certain. The standard of officials this season has been exceptional but the man in black for this game was totally out of his depth.
Disappointed but not broken we looked forward to Saturdays visit of Lewes, a team also struggling. I always felt we would win this game, it was our 13th match and my birthday!! Kieran Morphew was fully fit but Danny Smith replaced the injured Sam Newson, he would have a decent game showing all the potential we know he has. The star of the show however was Bruvs, he gave the Lewes defence hell, scored the goal, led the line and left the building with the Champagne!! It was 1-0 and could have been more although we were pleased with the Danny Gay safe hands in the dying minutes when he plucked a dangerous corner out of the air.
So with a win on the board we now need to build on this and tomorrow we have a tough game at Met Police to really test this new resolve.
At this stage I really want to pay tribute to our supporters, some off whom I have criticised in recent weeks. However, in line with the positive signs in the team the vocal support has increased to the extent where the backing we got against Lewes was as good as I ever known it. This gives us all a great lift especially the players who will always benefit from a loud boisterous crowd.
At the end of the day dropping so many points as we did tells us that we have just not been good enough. We have lacked experience and numbers so in addition to Messrs Brothers, Crisell, Davies and Gay I have made 3 additional signings this week.
Ian 'Dusty' Miller
Ian Miller is a player well known to the Suffolk folk after achieving a move from Bury to Ipswich Town some years ago. From then has had a fine professional career with Boston United, Darlington, Grimsby Town and Cambridge United making over 250 appearances during that time. A powerful centre half who leadership qualities are clear from the number of times he has been made team captain at his various clubs.
Simon Thomas - "many more like this please Thommo!!"
Also coming in to provide experience and presence is striker Simon Thomas who joins us from Conference South team St Albans. Simon spent 2 years at Crystal Palace earlier in his career and has spent many years at this level. He will give us a different option and dynamic in both boxes as well as in open play.
The third player to join us is one of Colchester United brightest youngsters Callum Harrison. Callum in a centre midfielder with real quality and a great engine. My thanks goes to U’s manager Tony Humes for arranging this loan which is open ended if both parties are happy with how things go.
All three players are in the squad for tomorrows trip where we are looking for more good things to try and get us up the league.
My finishing point is one that is slightly sad for both the club and me personally, that being the end of Kevin Horlock’s time with our Academy. The huge trek for Kev from his Kent home has taken his toll but his legacy will be remembered for many many years. What he has brought to the club in terms of playing and as Academy Head Coach cannot not be overstated. For me to work with and become mates with someone who I have cheered from the Manchester City stands in years gone by has been one of the high points of my life.
Kevin Horlock - Legend
We have an Academy that we can be proud of and there have been a number of people to thank for that but non more than Kev. He has had a positive impact on all that he has coached non more, I would suggest, than one of our young stars Kieran Morphew; without Kev there would be no Morphs and I am sure he would agree with that.
The one good news story to come out of this is a bitter sweet moment for me that being the appointment of 1st Team player/Coach Karl Duguid to fill this role. Although I will miss him from my team I am not sure we could have found a better replacement. I believe this transition will be a smooth one and Karl will bring many skills to this role as well as continuing in a playing capacity in our Academy/2nd team.
The way to determine how good a football club is cannot be found during periods of success. You learn about your club when times are tough and although this will be a hard season for us the action over the past 3 weeks show we are not lying down.
All the best