‘It’s a big game’ – Needham boss Horlock on cup semi-final
PUBLISHED: 10:04 18 February 2020
Needham Market have ‘nothing to lose,’ when they travel to high-flying Chesham United for tonight’s Southern League Challenge Cup semi-final tie.
The Marketmen, fresh from back-to-back wins over Coalville and Lowestoft Town under new boss Kevin Horlock, will have their work cut out trying to reach the cup final (in a competition for clubs in the four divisions of the Southern League), especially as Chesham have only lost one home game all season.
However, Needham are bang in form and enjoying their best run of results of the whole campaign.
"It's a big game, and it's quite a nice game to have, a bonus," explained manager Horlock.
"Obviously we would have preferred to be at home, but I've done a little bit of homework on them. They've only lost one at home.
"We will go down there as the underdogs, but we will be going down there with a spring in our step after the two recent wins.
"And we don't really have anything to lose. I think we have a chance of winning the game, though we will have to be on the top of our game," added Horlock.
Ex-Northern Ireland, Manchester City and Ipswich Town midfielder Horlock, who returned to Needham last summer as the club's new academy manager (after an initial four-year spell from 2011 to 2015), replaced Richard Wilkins as the club's new first-team manager a fortnight ago, while still retaining his role with the academy.
A 1-0 defeat at Barwell, last Saturday week, has been followed by 1-0 wins at Coalville and against Lowestoft last Saturday.
"We've won 1-0, which is pleasing, and we've kept a clean-sheet, but I will always be wanting more," said Horlock after the win over Lowestoft, which saw Needham rise to 11th in the table.
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"I want to drive on these players, and for them to be in the same mind-set, wanting to improve. As the manager, that's my job, to get them hungry and wanting to improve.
"The signs are there. They are a good bunch, and as a club we have won seven of the last 10, which is encouraging.
"We've got some good young players, and we have also got experience, so it's just a matter of blending that together and getting the balance right, the set-up right.
"I'm loving every minute of it, if I'm being honest," said Horlock.
Two of the club's brightest prospects, teenagers Callum Page and Noah Collard, both played the full 90 minutes against Lowestoft, and have both since signed new deals.
Academy player Page has signed a first-team contract, while midfielder Collard has signed an improved new deal.
Horlock confirmed: "We've signed a couple of the younger lads on deals, which I'm really pleased about.
"Callum (Page) is special, without going over-board about it. He scores goals and he's got something about him, while Noah (Collard) has also come in and been a breath of fresh air. He's got lots of energy.
"Both lads have still got lots to learn, but I have got big hopes for them, not just here with us, but for the future because I think they can go and play at a higher level.
"They are both 18, and anything is possible. I'm not sure at that age that I was as good as them, at 18. I just had a bit of luck and was in a very different environment to them.
"If they keep performing like that, then I'm sure there will be interest, though hopefully not too soon.
"We want to help kids get as far as they can, while foremost obviously also playing games for Needham. We want them to achieve their dreams," added Horlock.