NEW Leiston boss Ian Cornforth has stressed how important the Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup is to the club.
Leiston, who had never previously lifted the Suffolk Premier Cup, have won the competition in each of the last two seasons.
With the club, who have seen eight of last season’s side that started the final since leave – only Kyle Hammond, Rob Eagle and Noel Aitkens remain – have endured a miserable start to the campaign. Leiston are pictured above celebrating after defeating Felixstowe & Walton United 3-2 in last season's final at Portman Road.
They are rooted at the foot of the BetVictor Southern League Premier Central Division with just one point from their opening ten matches.
So it would be easy to think that this season’s Suffolk Premier Cup may be deemed as a distraction, but Cornforth is relishing the challenge after taking over the hotseat from Stuart Boardley.
His young side travel to Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division side Woodbridge Town, who play two steps below Leiston, on Wednesday evening for a second-round tie.
Cornforth said: “We may be a Step 3 football club but we won’t underestimate them. Everyone at Leiston is fully aware of how important the game and the competition is to the club.
“It is a big game for us against a very decent Woodbridge side.
“We will give them the respect they deserve. I know them well from my time at Hadleigh and Ipswich Wanderers and they have a good group of players who have been together for some time.
“We have not got the experience, but we have got a lot of young talent and I have no fear of playing those boys against anyone.
“It is going to be a massive challenge for us to defend the trophy with so many strong sides in the Premier Cup, especially as some of these boys have not played in the competition before.”
Josh Cheetham has just returned to the club from Hadleigh United and came on as a substitute in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Stratford Town – Leiston’s ninth league loss in a row.
Opponents Woodbridge have dropped to fourth in the table following their 2-1 defeat – their fourth reverse in their last six league matches – at Hadleigh United on Friday night.
Wednesday's other second-round fixture sees Long Melford host fellow Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division side Stowmarket Town at Stoneylands.
Stowmarket are currently eight points clear at the top of the table, while Long Melford sit in 15th place, but the visitors will be mindful of the fact that they lost 3-1 at Long Melford in the League Challenge Cup Quarter-Final last season.
Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Second Round: AFC Sudbury v Hadleigh Utd, Bury Town v Felixstowe & Walton Utd, Haverhill Rovers v Needham Market, Kirkley & Pakefield v Lowestoft Town, Mildenhall Town v Brantham Athletic, Whitton Utd v Walsham-le-Willows.
Suffolk Boys’ Under-18 Midweek Cup Second Round: Bungay Town v Long Melford.
Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Second Round: Long Melford v Stowmarket Town, Woodbridge Town v Leiston.
Suffolk Boys’ Under-18 Midweek Cup Second Round: Hadleigh Utd v Whitton Utd, Needham Market v Brantham Athletic.
Suffolk Boys’ Under-18 Midweek Cup Second Round: Cornard Utd v Waveney, Haverhill Rovers v AFC Sudbury, Ipswich Town U16s v Lakenheath, Kirkley & Pakefield v Woodbridge Town, Stowmarket Town v Framlingham Town.