KIRKLEY & Pakefield player-manager Jack Herbert would love another Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup run.
The 31-year-old was captain of the Kirkley side that reached the semi-finals of the competition in the 2017-18 season, before losing 3-1 to eventual winners Leiston at Lowestoft Town FC.
After receiving a bye in the first round The Royals start their Suffolk Premier Cup campaign with a home second-round tie on Tuesday night against fellow Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division side Long Melford.
Herbert, who took over the managerial reins after Gary McGee left the club just before the start of last season, said: “I would love to emulate that cup run and get to at least the semi-finals again.
“The semi-final was the highlight of that cup run – there was a good crowd at Crown Meadow and we always seem to grow as a team when there are a lot of people watching and raise our game by five per cent.
“I remember we took the lead early on (after just two minutes) through Kyle Haylock and Leiston didn’t score their third goal until just before the end.”
After a run of four straight defeats in November Kirkley have lost just once in their last eight games, winning three and drawing four, including a 2-2 draw at Ely City on Saturday.
Leading scorer Haylock, who has netted 11 times in 30 appearances so far this season, scored both goals for the visitors, who sit in 14th place in the table, three above Long Melford but with ten points more from the same number of games played.
Herbert said of the tie side: “Fingers crossed we can get through, but they are a tricky team to play against.
“We have played them three times already this season – twice in the FA Cup, when we won in a replay, but then we lost at home to them in the league, so we owe them one.”
Herbert himself is a doubt with a calf strain and regular central defensive partner Lewis Flower is ruled out after dislocating a knee, while goalkeeper Jordan Smith twisted his knee at Ely on Saturday.
“Alex Blowers, who we signed to give Jordan competition, is away on holiday, so Reserve goalkeeper Liam Bruce will be in the squad, while other lads who got some minutes with the Reserves on Saturday will be in contention.
“We have several niggles, so will rest some players but have others who are coming back from injury and that will be a massive help between now and the end of the season.”
There are two other all Thurlow Nunn League ties – Hadleigh United at home to Lakenheath, who will be playing their first match in the competition and Haverhill Rovers versus Woodbridge.
Three Thurlow Nunn sides are away to higher league opposition – Brantham travel to Leiston, Mildenhall Town are at AFC Sudbury, while on Wednesday, Walsham-le-Willows visit Needham Market.
Tuesday’s other two ties see Stowmarket Town host Ipswich Town and Isthmian League North rivals Bury Town and Felixstowe & Walton United face off against each other.
Jack Herbert (far left, maroon shirt) is pictured above playing for Kirkley & Pakefield against Leiston in the Suffolk Premier Cup Final against Leiston in the 2017-18 season. Christy Finch, who scored two of Leiston’s three goals, is about to receive the ball. Photograph: Steve Wood.
Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Second Round: AFC Sudbury v Mildenhall Town, Bury Town v Felixstowe & Walton Utd, Hadleigh Utd v Lakenheath, Haverhill Rovers v Woodbridge Town, Ipswich Town XI v Stowmarket Town at Stowmarket Town FC, Kirkley & Pakefield v Long Melford, Leiston v Brantham Athletic.
Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Second Round: Needham Market v Walsham-le-Willows (7.45pm).