LEISTON manager Stuart Boardley is looking forward to taking on his former team-mate and temporary lodger Adem Atay in the semi-finals of this season’s KBB NEFF Suffolk Premier Cup.
Boardley was playing for Torquay when Atay went on trial at the former Football League club after leaving Ipswich Town, where they had played together.
The pair will be in opposing dugouts when Leiston face Ipswich Town Under-18s in the semi-final tie at the Goldstar Ground, home of Felixstowe & Walton United, on Wednesday, kick-off 7.45pm.
Boardley said it would be a ‘very special’ occasion for him managing against his former team-mate and the club where he started his career at the ground where he ended his playing days before taking over the Leiston hot seat this season.
He said: “Adem came and lodged with me in Torquay for a couple of weeks while he was on trial there. We were good mates at the time, although we don’t see each other much now. He is a year below me, but we came through the under-17 and under-19 teams at the same time and were in the Youth set up together for three years at Ipswich.
“I am also looking forward to seeing a lot of old friends and faces who I see now and again.”
However, there will be no room for sentiment as Boardley wants his Leiston side to create their own slice of history.
He said: “I challenged the players after the game on Saturday to try to beat Ipswich and get to the final and then become the first Leiston team to retain the trophy and create some history for us, which is something they want to achieve.
“It would be great for everyone at the club now that the play-offs are out of reach – it is our main focus for the rest of the season.
“The defeat at Stourbridge and then drawing with Bedworth United on Saturday makes it extremely difficult – we would have to win every game between now and the end of the season.
“We have personal pride and contracts to play for ahead of next season, but this is realistically the only silverware we can now win.”
Boardley believes Leiston will be well prepared for the last-four tie.
He continued: “I have watched them a couple of times and I speak to the likes of Lee O’Neill, Gerard Nash and Scott Mitchell at Ipswich regularly about players who are doing well and who we may be able to take on loan or those who are not being offered a deal next year so we can offer them a chance to play at a local Non-League club.
“I know a lot about them and our players like Kyle Hammond, Seb Dunbar and Byron Lawrence came through the Ipswich Youth system, so we feel we are relatively well prepared and set up on how they will approach the game.”
However, he is also wary about their opponents, who Leiston defeated 2-1 courtesy of Joe Jefford’s 92nd minute winner in last season’s quarter-finals.
“Last season Leiston struggled to adapt, certainly in the first-half, as you are not used to their fitness levels and quick passing. In the Southern League there are very few teams who play in that manner, so it will be a difficult test for us, although we do have technically gifted players,” he said.
The Leiston squad is 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).