HENLEY Athletic are confident of beating any side at their level in a one-off game.
So says joint manager Sam Behnamnia, whose team face fellow Touchline SIL Senior Division side Achilles in the CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup Semi-Final on Friday night.
Henley go into the game at the Goldstar Ground, home of Felixstowe & Walton United, kick-off 7.45pm, on the back of a shock 2-1 loss at home to Grundisburgh.
The result delayed Grundisbrugh’s seemingly inevitable relegation after 38 years as a Senior Division side and simultaneously put a severe dent in Henley’s title challenge.
Behnamnia, who is joint manager with Liam Bevis, said: “We have had a couple of games like that where we have gone off the boil. Grundisburgh have always been a difficult team to play against, but they had several ex-Henley players with something to prove.
“I would love to say our players had Friday night on their minds, but we allowed them to get in our faces, whereas we are usually the team on the front foot and imposing ourselves on our opponents.
“Instead we were chasing the game early on and the players allowed the occasion to get the better of them.”
However, Behnamnia is confident Henley can progress to the final at Portman Road – just three years after the club lost 2-0 to AFC Hoxne in the Suffolk Junior Cup Final.
He said: “The players know what is at stake on Friday – some of them have played at Portman Road with former clubs and others with Henley in the Junior Cup Final.
“We know we can’t afford to have a drop in our performance against Achilles as they are as ruthless as any team in our league at exploiting any weakness in our side.”
Henley have beaten Bramford United 1-0, Lakenheath 5-4 on penalties after a 2-2 draw and Bourne Vale United 2-1 to reach the last four.
Behnamnia said: “It was a hard pitch against Bramford, who had a better side that day than their current league positions suggests. We produced one of our better performances this season at Lakenheath, and we were arguably the better side that day.
“The more experience you have of getting to semi-finals (Achilles will be appearing in their third successive Senior Cup semi-final) the more it holds you in good stead.
“But we are used to putting pressure on ourselves and this season against Cranes, Achilles, Lakenheath and Bourne Vale we have turned up and shown together as a unit we have the mentality to win big games.
“In a one-off game we are capable of beating anyone, so we are very confident.”
Behnamnia said Henley have a few niggling injuries, but he anticipates everyone being available to play.
CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup Semi-Finals: Achilles v Henley Athletic at Felixstowe & Walton Utd FC (7.45pm), Cornard Utd v Ipswich Wanderers at Hadleigh Utd FC (7.45pm).