STOWMARKET Town see themselves as underdogs in Tuesday’s Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Semi-Final.
Despite containing a side full of players with experience at a higher-level, Stowmarket manager Rick Andrews says Needham Market will start as favourites.
Stowmarket, who play in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division, face opponents who ply their trade two leagues above in the Southern League Premier Central Division.
The delayed 2019-20 last-four tie, which was originally scheduled for March before the country went into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, is taking place at AFC Sudbury, kick-off 7.45pm.
Andrews said: “I definitely see us as underdogs. We have players who have played at that level, but the advantage Needham have is they are playing at that level week in, week out and we have not got that intensity.
“We have reached the semi-finals of this competition in each of the last two seasons, so the club is progressing nicely.
“However, we have got a few knocks and players not available, but whatever XI we put out will be a strong XI.
“It is a game we could have done without so early on in the season, but it is good that Suffolk FA have continued the competition for the clubs that had reached the semi-finals last season.
“You have to deal with the cards you have been dealt and the youngsters we have brought in have not let us down so far.”
Luke Read is suspended, Craig Parker is cup-tied, having played for Needham Market in the competition, while Christy Finch (cracked ribs), Danny Cunningham (ankle) and Jamie Shaw (hamstring) are all set to be missing.
Shaw injured his hamstring in Saturday’s 2-1 Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round win at Yaxley, a result that put Stowmarket into the First Qualifying Round for the first time since 2001.
That victory against their Southern League Division One Central opponents has earned Stowmarket a tie away to Cambridge City on Tuesday, September 22nd.
Needham, meanwhile, have yet to play a competitive fixture, with their league campaign starting on Saturday with a trip to Redditch United.
However, they have been in good form, winning six of their seven pre-season fixtures, the only defeat coming against higher-league Braintree Town.
Needham Market (red shirts) are pictured above in action in the first round of the competition against Ipswich Town (blue shirts) last September. Needham Market won 3-0 against a youthful visiting side.