Don't let anyone tell you the magic of the FA Cup is no more.

Needham Market and their fans have rightly been hugely excited after the FA Cup first round draw pitted them against League One Burton Albion.

The Marketmen play in the Southern League Central Premier, step 3 of the non-league pyramid, four steps down from Burton. It's the same step of the pyramid Ipswich Town's opponents Bracknell Town play at.

In the same week that Ronnie Radford died, a player who scored one of the most iconic FA Cup goals back in 1972 when non-league Hereford defeated top-flight Newcastle United 2-1 in extra-time in a third round replay, causing a huge upset, so Needham will hope to shock the Brewers.

But it won't be easy for the Suffolk side, who are set to take 400-500 fans with them. However, stranger things have happened with the magic of the FA Cup.


Kevin Horlock is an experienced former professional and he knows his side will need more than a bit of luck today.

Then again, Needham have shown serious cup credentials in recent times.

Last season they beat Yeovil Town on their way to the FA Trophy last eight, where they were beaten by Stockport County. Both teams then playing in the National League, two steps higher than Needham.

And already this season, in this FA Cup run, Needham have put out another National League side, Maidstone United, Luke Ingram's goal enough for victory to set up the Burton tie.

“Like against Maidstone, we’ll have to be at our best across the board, we’ll have to have a little bit of luck no doubt, and we probably need Burton to have an off day,” said Horlock.

“But you just never know in football. That’s the magic of the FA Cup. It’s been done before and no doubt it’ll be done again. Hopefully that’s when we play them.

“I believe in them. I believe in what I’ve got. They’re good players. I’ll tell them to just be free, go and play. Don’t play in fear. Don’t worry about mistakes."


Burton boss Dino Maamria has said that his Burton team are dreaming as big about the FA Cup as anyone else.

The Brewers are huge favourites for victory over non-league Needham this afternoon, but he's taking nothing for granted.

“The FA Cup is a chance for the underdog because they play without fear, they let loose, and they play to their full potential," he said.

"There is always that danger of the banana skin term that everybody uses. You’ve got to respect every team in the competition, especially in these first two rounds.

Stowmarket Mercury: Needham Market players in joyous mood after they beat Maidstone in the last round of the FA CupNeedham Market players in joyous mood after they beat Maidstone in the last round of the FA Cup (Image: Ben Pooley)

"Needham Market have done well to get this far, but we dream as big as the next person. I’m dreaming about going all the way to the third, fourth, fifth round and seeing where that takes us. We’re dreaming big about the FA Cup and our focus has been totally on this competition all week.”

The Brewers face a few injury worries, with captain John Brayford and loanee Elliot Thorpe being ruled out for today's clash. Sam Winnall is a doubt for the tie but Cameron Borthwick-Jackson is likely to be back from a knock. Tyler Onyango is among the loanees given permission to play by their parent clubs.


While boss Maamria is talking up hopes of a good FA Cup run, there is little doubt their League One position is of concern right now.

The Brewers have made a poor start to the season and manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink resigned in early September with his team sitting bottom of the table with one point from seven games.

Today, they are still bottom, although their last six-game form has seen them pick up five points, including a win against Cheltenham.

Stowmarket Mercury: Former Burton boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who left the club in SeptemberFormer Burton boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who left the club in September (Image: PA)

But they aren't in great shape, results-wise, although the thought of losing to a non-league side in the FA Cup is one that will haunt them, as it does most League sides.

Burton's best-ever performance in the FA Cup was in the 2010-11 season when the Brewers reached the fourth round before losing away at Burnley. 

It will be interesting to see how strong they go against Needham.

Stowmarket Mercury: Keiran Morphew, hoping to be fit to face BurtonKeiran Morphew, hoping to be fit to face Burton (Image: Archant)


Needham Market have a blend of youth and experience within their ranks. Many of their squad have come through the Needham Market Academy.

Coupled with experienced players like goalkeeper Marcus Garnham, Kyle Hammond, Christian Frimpong and Luke Ingram, they will head to Burton with confidence high, having been underdogs many times in recent seasons in cup games, where they have then excelled.

Horlock will be hoping influential defender Keiran Morphew is able to play, another player who came through their academy, Morphew is an excellent defender and once had trials for Ipswich Town, although manager Mick McCarthy couldn't offer him a deal.


Unsurprisingly you will get very generous odds on a Needham win, even a Needham draw. And you will have to put a fair bit down to make a lot of money on a Burton win.


Stowmarket Mercury: Needham Market 'keeper Marcus Garnham, who will hope not to be too busy at Burton on SaturdayNeedham Market 'keeper Marcus Garnham, who will hope not to be too busy at Burton on Saturday (Image: Paul Voller)


Oh, how my heart would love to rule my head with this one. But I think Needham will do extremely well to just grab a draw with Burton this afternoon. Then again, I think Kevin Horlock's men will give a much better account of themselves than many neutrels probably think. But I can't see past a home win.

Burton 3 Needham 0.

Stowmarket Mercury: Needham Market players celebrate at the end of the game in the last round of the FA Cup after they had beaten MaidstoneNeedham Market players celebrate at the end of the game in the last round of the FA Cup after they had beaten Maidstone (Image: Ben Pooley)