THE mindset of Lakenheath’s players has changed ahead of their CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup Semi-Final.
Disappointment that this season’s showpiece final will not take place at Portman Road has been replaced by the prospect it could be the club’s last chance to win the competition in the foreseeable future.
The club received the news on Tuesday that they will be playing at Step 5 next season, after applying for promotion to the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division following the curtailed 2020-21 season.
Confirmation of their promotion means there will be cause for a double celebration if they can overcome opponents Framlingham Town in Saturday’s semi-final tie at AFC Sudbury, kick-off 3pm.
Lakenheath manager Ben Cowling admitted: “Everyone should be buoyed by the news we received on Tuesday as we now know what we will be doing next season.
“There had been a lot of ‘we hope, we think’ over the last six weeks, so it is nice to have our future sorted ahead of Saturday.
“A lot of players are disappointed the final is not at Portman Road, but it is an achievement to get to a county cup final and that opportunity doesn’t come along very often.
“The mindset of our players has now changed because we won’t be playing in the competition next season, so it is our last chance to get to a Senior Cup Final for hopefully a long time.”
Cowling is predicting an open game against their Thurlow Nunn League Division One North opponents.
“I think it will be an entertaining game as both sides score lots of goals and we have not been as watertight defensively as in previous years,” he said.
After defeating Felixstowe & Walton United Reserves 2-0, Lakenheath knocked out Haughley United 3-1 on penalties following a 1-1 draw, before coming from 2-0 down at half time to beat Beccles Town 4-2.
Cowling continued: “We have not played very well in this competition so far this season, even going back to our first tie.
“Against Haughley United we had a lot of the ball but struggled to finish it off and our goalkeeper Charlie Beckwith saved the day in the penalty shoot-out.
“Then Beccles Town should have been out of sight at half time before we roused ourselves and came back to win. We made a couple of changes and responded well.
“We played very well in the second half, but we can’t afford to keep giving teams a head start.
“We know we have a good group of players who will take to the pitch and if they perform they will get their rewards.
“If we don’t, we know how dangerous Framlingham’s front three are and we fully respect them, so if we are below-par we won’t be playing in the final!”
Lakenheath will be without Ben Grogan, who signed from higher-level Wisbech Town and is ineligible, while Luke Corbyn has damaged knee ligaments.
Lakenheath goalkeeper Charlie Beckwith is pictured above saving a penalty in the shoot-out win at Haughley United in this season’s quarter-final tie. Photograph: Neil Dady
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