THE Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup returns on Tuesday after a 14-month hiatus.
The last match to be played in the competition was the second leg of the delayed 2019-20 final in October last year.
Lowestoft Town defeat Needham Market 2-1 at Crown Meadow, but it was the Marketmen who lifted the trophy 4-3 on aggregate.
The 2020-21 competition had already got under way earlier that month but was then paused, and eventually halted altogether, due to Covid-19.
The 2021-22 edition starts with two first-round ties on Tuesday – Stowmarket Town hosting Lowestoft Town and Whitton United welcoming Walsham-le-Willows.
Whitton United will enter their tie against their fellow Step 5 side on the back of one of the best performances under manager Shane Coldron’s (pictured above, photograph: Hannah Parnell).
The Ipswich side, who sit third-from-bottom of the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division, ended up drawing 2-2 at home to third-placed Mildenhall Town
Coldron, who took over at King George V in May 2017, enthused: “The performance was up there as one of the best since I have been at the club.
“We dominated the first half and led 1-0 at half-time through Asa Milliard.
“We then scored a penalty (converted by Tom Bradlaugh) to make it 2-0 after 81 minutes but conceded two minutes later to let them back into the game and they then equalised in the 88th minute.”
Former club captain Robbie Knott has returned as assistant manager to Coldron, who continued: “The winners will play Needham Market, which is a mouth-watering tie for both ourselves and Walsham.
“Walsham are one of the most improved sides in our league and have done well as they have promoted youth from within the club.”
Coldron is expected to start 18-year-old Sean Bell, who has returned to the club from Achilles and is the son of well-known former local footballer Sean Bell.
“Of course we want to win, but don’t see the cup as a priority right now because of our league position.
“The match will give me the chance to have a look at a few fringe players, including a couple of under-18s,” added Coldron.
Ollie Dunlop is suspended after receiving a four-match ban following his second sending-off of the season at Newmarket Town, while Jamal Wiggins is a long-term injury absentee.
Walsham are enjoying a fine season in the Premier Division and currently occupy fourth place following Saturday’s 1-0 win at Brantham Athletic.
The village side won 2-1 at Whitton in the second round of the competition in the 2019-20 season under then caretaker manager Trevor Collins, who was appointed full-time soon after.
Tuesday’s other first-round tie pits Step 4 Stowmarket Town at home to higher-league Lowestoft Town, with both clubs buoyed by wins at the weekend.
Stowmarket secured a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Aveley on Saturday that moved them up to fourth place in their debut season in Pitching In Isthmian League North.
Lowestoft, meanwhile, won 2-1 at Stratford Town to record their first win in eight matches in Pitching In Southern League Premier Division Central.
Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup First Round: Stowmarket Town v Lowestoft Town (7.45pm), Whitton Utd v Walsham-le-Willows (7.45pm).