MANAGER Richard Wilkins says his Needham Market side will have to produce an improved performance if they are to beat Bury Town when the two clubs clash in the semi-final of this season’s Omni Freight Services Suffolk Premier Cup.
Holders Needham face his former club, who are managed by his old assistant manager Ben Chenery, in the first of this season’s semi-finals at AFC Sudbury on Wednesday, kick-off 7.45pm.
Wilkins, who saw his side lose 3-1 at home to mid-table Merstham in the Bostik League Premier Division on Saturday, said: “On paper we will be favourites, but they will be up for it and we will have to play better than we did on Saturday if we are to reach the final again.
“We picked up a couple of knocks, which is not ideal, so we will have to wait and see if Callum Sturgess is fit and Dan Morphew, who rested his injured calf on Saturday and is 50/50, while Adam Mills is still out.”
Wilkins has always maintained that the final of the county’s premier cup competition should be played at Portman Road, so is pleased to see the showpiece occasion return there this season, subject to Ipswich Town not being involved in the play-offs.
He said: “Although Colchester United looked after us superbly last year, it was slightly strange playing a showcase Suffolk cup final in Essex.
“The final needs to be played at a fitting venue and no disrespect to AFC Sudbury, but it lost some prestige when we beat Felixstowe & Walton United there while I was manager of Bury Town.
“I have enjoyed some success in the competition, winning it with Bury Town and then last season with Needham Market, although I lost in the final while manager of Leiston against Lowestoft Town.
“You only have to win three or four matches to reach the final of the Premier Cup, so it is a competition I have always taken seriously, whereas we chose not to enter this season’s Bostik League Cup.
“It provides a good opportunity to play lads who maybe have not had many minutes recently in league games, and it is a good cup to win.”
Admission will be £9 for adults and £5 for OAPS and children under 16.
A souvenir programme, priced £1, will also be on sale.