Needham Market vs Cray Wanderers – FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round – Saturday 7th October, 3 pm – Match Preview & Directions

Cray Wanderers take a break from league action on Saturday as the Step 3 clubs enter the FA Trophy for the 3rd Qualifying Round as the Wands head to Southern Premier Central Needham Market.  Kick off at Bloomfields, 3 pm.

Cray Wanderers go into this game with a bit more bounce after a 3-0 win at Concord Rangers on Tuesday night moved Neil Smith’s side up to 16th in the table.  The win was Cray’s third in four league games and was the perfect response to the defeat at Kingstonian last Saturday.  First half goals from George Porter and Cameron Black and a second half penalty from Anthony Cook claimed the three points and overall was a very solid performance.

The Wands will be looking to add some cup excitement with the FA Trophy, where Cray reached the 3rd Round in 2021-22 but will have their work cut out against a buoyant Needham Market side unbeaten in their last 13 league and cup games.

Kevin Horlock’s side sit 2nd in the Southern League Premier Central on 21 points and on Tuesday night reached the 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup after a 3-0 replay win at home to Peterborough Sports.  

Needham Market finished 17th last season but after losing their season opener at Stratford Town have been very solid since then in the league. At home Needham Market have beaten Hitchin Town (2-0), Alvechurch (2-0), Stourbridge (1-0) and St. Ives Town (6-1) and drew with Halesowen (0-0). Away from home Needham Market won at Coalville Town (6-1) and AFC Telford (2-0), drew with Leiston and Kettering Town losing at Stratford Town.  In the FA Cup, Needham Market began with a 3-0 win at FC Romania in the 1st Qualifying Round which was followed by a 1-0 win at Isthmian Premier Hashtag United.  Then after a goalless draw at Peterborough Sports, Needham Market won the replay 3-0 to earn a trip to National League York City in the 4th Qualifying Round.  Last season Needham Market reached the 1st Round for the first time in the club’s history going out to League One Burton Albion.


The clubs have only met in league competition for one season in 2014-15 in the Isthmian North, a season where Needham Market won the league and beat Cray 3-0 at Bloomfields on 27th September 2014 with a Sam Newson hat-trick and a game which was the first in charge for Michael Paye and Gary Abbott.  Needham Market won 3-1 at Hayes Lane on 13th March, 2015 which was the last defeat for the Wands before the dramatic ten game winning run at the end of the season.

Needham Market were formed in 1919 and spent most of their early history in the Ipswich & District/Suffolk & Ipswich leagues where they remained until 1995-96.  They earned promotion to the Eastern Counties League for the 1996-97 season and earned promotion from Division One in 2004–05.  They reached the FA Vase Semi-Finals in 2007-08 and in 2009-10 won the Premier Division title and League Cup to earn promotion to the Isthmian North.  They finished 2nd in 2010-11 and then in 2011-12 came 4th reaching the playoff final losing at Enfield Town after winning at Tilbury. In 2013-14 Needham Market finished 5th losing in the playoffs at Witham Town before winning the title by one point from Harlow Town in 2014-15 to gain promotion to the Isthmian Premier.

Needham Market spent three seasons in the Premier finishing 9th in 2016-17 before being relocated to the Southern League Premier Central in 2018-19 where they finished 11th in their first season. They reached the Quarter Finals of the FA Trophy in 2021-22 eventually going out to now League Two Stockport County before finishing 17th last season and reaching the 1st Round of the FA Cup.

This promises to be a very good test for the Wands against a side in very good form but it should be a great day out sampling some fine Suffolk hospitality.


Needham Market FC, Bloomfields, Quinton Road, Needham Market, SUFFOLK  IP6 8DA


£12 Adult

£9 concession (60+)

£3 Children 12-16

Free of charge: Children U12


From the Cray’s/Flamingo Park should be around 86.5 miles and around a 1 hr 49 minute journey. Head from the A20 to the M25 at the Swanley Interchange (1st exit).  Stay on the M25 for 3 miles and onto A282 for the tolls and Dartford Tunnel. Once through the tunnel stay on A282 for 0.4 miles and continue onto M25 (signs for M11/M1/Stansted Airport) for 8.5 miles. At Junction 28 take the A12 exit to Chelmsford/A1023/Brentwood and at the roundabout take the 4th exit onto the A12 slip road to Chelmsford/Harwich/A120 for 0.3 miles.  Keep right at the fork and merge onto the A12 for 51.4 miles. At the Copdock Roundabout take the 1st exit onto the A14 slip road to Bury St. Edmunds/Norwich/A140 for 0.3 miles. Merge onto the A14 for 7.6 miles then use the left lane to take the A140 slip road to Diss/Norwich/B1078.  After 0.3 miles at Beacon Hill Interchange, take the 2nd exit onto Kettle Lane for 0.5 miles.  Continue onto Coddenham Road/B1078 for 0.9 miles then turn left into Needham Market High Street/B1113.  Then turn right into Barking Road/B1078, then turn right into Chainhouse Road for 0.2 miles and then a right onto Quinton Road for 0.1 mile for the ground.


For those wanting to travel by train, the best way from London is from Liverpool Street and catch the service on the hour to Norwich and change at Ipswich (platform 4). From platform 3B catch the Cambridge bound train to Needham Market with the journey time of eight minutes.  Your return back to Liverpool Street will be at 51 mins past the hour, arriving at Ipswich at 02 past the hour at platform 4B. Your connecting train to Liverpool Street leaves platform 2 at 11 mins past the hour, taking just over an hour to get back to London.

The nearest station is Needham Market. Come out of the station and walk to the end of Station Yard where it has a junction with the B1113. Take the road almost immediately opposite and continue straight ahead. The road passes School Street on the right and then you should see a footpath ahead. Follow the path until it meets Quinton Road. Turn right and the ground is a short distance along the road.

If you are looking for somewhere to drink in Needham Market, it is quite a small town but there are two fairly close to the ground.  The Rampant Horse (Coddenham Road) and The Swan (no 9 High Street). There is also the Lion (44 Ipswich Road) but tends to open in the evenings so maybe better if you fancy stopping over after the match. Those are your best bets although the club house at Bloomfields comes very well recommended.  Close to the Swan pub in the High Street is the Needham Chippy for those that fancy Fish and Chips.

Needham Market is a small town set in the Gipping Valley and lies virtually in the middle of Suffolk close to Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds with rail links to Norwich/Cambridge. The High Street is designated a conservation area, and most of the buildings are Grade II listed. Look out for the 17th C. Old Grammar School and the former Quakers’ Meeting House. The 15th C. church posseses a superb hammerbeam roof. Needham Lake offers walks, fishing and picnic areas.

The Town initially grew around the wool combing industry, until the onset of the plague, which swept the town from 1663 to 1665. To prevent the spread of the disease, the town was chained at either end, which succeeded in its task but at the cost of two-thirds of the populace. The town did not recover for nearly two hundred years, with the canalisation of the River Gipping in the late 18th Century and the introduction of the railway. Modern Needham Market contains two road names that are linked to the plague. Chainhouse Road, named after the chains that ran across the East end of the town. The Causeway, is a modern variation of ‘the corpseway’ so called because of the route that plague victims were transported out of town, to neighbouring Barking church for interment.