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Former AFC Sudbury, Leiston and Needham Market manager Mark Morsley picks his top three games




Having just stepped down after two-and-a-half years with AFC Sudbury and having guided Needham Market and Leiston to historic promotions, Mark Morsley has certainly taken in some big moments on the touchline.

With the ongoing football lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, we asked him to kick off our new series where we ask non-league managers to pick out and rank their top three games they have been involved in this century.

Morsley admitted this was 'really tough' to do but managed to end up picking one game from each of his last three employers, but only two of them were victories for his side of the dugout.

FOOTBALL: Soham v AFC Sudbury - AFC boss Mark Morsley Picture Mark Westley. (5876827)
FOOTBALL: Soham v AFC Sudbury - AFC boss Mark Morsley Picture Mark Westley. (5876827)

He said: "In my 20 years I’ve many games and would have liked to have added the FA Trophy victory at Worthing (with AFC Sudbury this season) to the list but the rule is three."

No3

Date: May 2007

Result: Harlow Town 2-2 AFC Sudbury (Harlow win on penalties)

Why was it memorable? This was the Isthmian League North Division play-off final achieved in my first season at Sudbury (first spell).

Sudbury, Suffolk. AFC Sudbury's new manager Mark Morsley's first game in charge...Picture: MARK BULLIMORE PHOTOGRAPHY. (32668284)
Sudbury, Suffolk. AFC Sudbury's new manager Mark Morsley's first game in charge...Picture: MARK BULLIMORE PHOTOGRAPHY. (32668284)

We had qualified for the play-offs in the last game of the season, winning away to Tilbury and then we played Enfield Town away in the semi-final that we won in a huge victory.

In the final Harlow battered us and were 2-0 up and early in the second half. I took fans' favourites Andy ‘Porky’ Claydon and Jamie Rowe off, getting a bit of stick from the Yellows' faithful. However, Tommy Noble and Michael Brothers entered the frame and turned the game.

We got back to 2-2 playing brilliant attacking football and in extra-time our captain David Head scored a brilliant totally legal goal that the linesman somehow flagged to cancel out.

The goal was announced and the ball was back for the restart when he attracted the referees' attention and cancelled the goal out. To this day it is still remembered as a travesty and subsequently we lost the penalty shootout.

No2

Date: April 2015

Result: Chatham Town 0-5 Needham Market

Why was it memorable? This This was my third season at Needham. Having lost in the play-offs the previous campaign this season we would have a monumental battle with Harlow Town.

Chatham Town FC, Maidstone Road, Chatham.Chatham Town v Needham Market. Action.Picture: Steve Crispe FM3776179 (32667943)
Chatham Town FC, Maidstone Road, Chatham.Chatham Town v Needham Market. Action.Picture: Steve Crispe FM3776179 (32667943)

We played them the week before this game knowing a win would be enough, and when we led 2-0 at half-time we thought that was it. However, they showed their resilience to get a draw.

We had therefore to beat Chatham and beat them we did.

A great team goal was finished by Ian Westlake and then Michael Brothers scored the best non-league goal I’ve ever seen.

He scored as his overhead kick volley from a cross flew into the net. My only disappointment was it hadn’t been recorded.

Chatham Town FC, Maidstone Road, Chatham.Chatham Town v Needham Market. Team sheet.Picture: Steve Crispe FM3776113 (32667850)
Chatham Town FC, Maidstone Road, Chatham.Chatham Town v Needham Market. Team sheet.Picture: Steve Crispe FM3776113 (32667850)

We controlled the game from there but we were very strong having Westlake, Kem Izzet and Chris Hogg as our trio of ex-pros to run the show. It was a great day.

No1

Date: May 2012

Result: Leiston 6-0 Potters Bar

Why was it memorable? This was the game that guaranteed that my Leiston team achieved back-to-back promotions.

We won the Thurlow Nunn (League) Premier Division the previous year and that side had an epic battle with Enfield Town to be champions.

Going into this game we were two points off the top so only a win would do.

The performance was exemplary as we scored after 10 minutes and the Enfield Town contingent who had come hoping for a shock left at half-time as we rattled in half-a-dozen goals and were totally ruthless.

FOOTBALL - Needham Market v AFC Sudbury in the FA cup..Pictured: Needham MArket manager Mark Morsley. (32668264)
FOOTBALL - Needham Market v AFC Sudbury in the FA cup..Pictured: Needham MArket manager Mark Morsley. (32668264)

Editor's note: Goals came from Danny Smy, Joe Jefford (2) and a Leon Ottley-Gooch hat-trick. Needham Market captain Gareth Heath, while David Head, Jemel Fox, Sam Nunn, Shane Wardley, Blake Saker and Michael Brothers were also part of the local links to our clubs' alumni in that side.

* Check back tomorrow lunchtime for the next in the series.

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