STOWMARKET Town Manager Rick Andrews says his players deserve a place in the KBB NEFF Suffolk Premier Cup Final for their efforts this season.
The Old Gold & Blacks face Felixstowe & Walton United in the first of this season’s semi-finals on Tuesday at Millfield, the home of Hadleigh United FC, kick-off 7.45pm.
It will be the club’s first Suffolk Premier Cup semi-final appearance for 17 years, since losing 6-5 on penalties to AFC Sudbury following a 0-0 draw after extra time in March 2002, ironically at the same venue.
Stowmarket will be aiming to reach their first Suffolk Premier Cup Final since losing 1-0 to Newmarket Town in a replay, following a 0-0 draw, in the 1996-97 season.
Andrews said: “It is the one draw I didn’t want, and that is not being disrespectful to Felixstowe. I would have liked to have pitted my wits against either Ipswich Town or Leiston.
“We played Felixstowe three times last season, winning one, losing one and losing on penalties in the other, and Felixstowe didn’t want to draw us as much as we didn’t want to draw them.
“Players on both sides are familiar with each other – some having played for both teams – but we are the lowest placed team left in the competition so we will be going there to give it a good go.”
Stowmarket, who lost 4-2 on penalties to Felixstowe following a 1-1 draw in the second round of last season’s competition, have already knocked out two Step 4 teams, winning 4-1 at Mildenhall Town and 3-1 at home to AFC Sudbury.
Andrews continued: “The players will be ready for it. They are keen to pit themselves against higher-league opposition again.
“We have several players who have played at a higher level so we are looking forward to it and I hope we can put on a performance for our fans and give them a cup final to look forward to in May.
“It has been a long season – we had a good run in the FA Vase and it was disappointing to lose to Long Melford in the quarter-finals of the League Cup.
“We hope we can get a win to give everyone something to show for our efforts over the season – I think the players deserve that.”
Ryan Clark is suspended after being sent off in last Tuesday’s 3-3 draw at Ely City, while Ellis Murrell is cup-tied, ironically having played for Woodbridge Town in their second-round loss to the Seasiders.
However, Matt Paine should be back in the squad after being unavailable due to work and holiday commitments and Tom Matthews is hoping to have recovered from an ankle injury.
The Stowmarket Town squad are pictured above.
KBB NEFF Suffolk Premier Cup Semi-Final: Felixstowe & Walton Utd v Stowmarket Town at Hadleigh Utd (7.45pm).
KBB NEFF Suffolk Premier Cup Semi-Final: Leiston v Ipswich Town at Felixstowe & Walton Utd (7.45pm).