Boys U18 Midweek Cup Final AFC Sudbury Leiston May 2021 5

Ipswich Town aiming to rise to challenge

IPSWICH Town are looking forward to their first Suffolk Boys’ Under-18 Midweek Cup Final.

IPSWICH Town’s youngsters will be aiming to rise to the challenge of playing in the Suffolk Boys’ Under-18 Midweek Cup Final.

The club’s Under-16 side have reached the final for the first time where they will face AFC Sudbury, winners of the last five finals, at Colchester United FC on Thursday, kick-off 7.30pm.

In fact, AFC Sudbury Academy have never lost a match in the competition since entering for the first time in the 2015-16 season, with the 2019-20 final not being played due to Covid.

Ben Pugh, who is Lead Youth Development Phase Coach for Ipswich Town’s U13s-U16s, spelt out the importance to the club of reaching the final for the first time.

He said: “I think it’s really important that the players experience occasions like this. Within academy football (9-16), there are no league tables, so to be involved in competitions that give us an added element are great for the players’ learning.

“A number of the players have also played in both the U16s and U18s PDL Cup finals over the last week, so to be involved in another final is great for them and is another opportunity for them to demonstrate their abilities.”

Ipswich Town defeated hosts Walsham-le-Willows 2-1 in their semi-final – a result and performance that pleased Pugh.

“The players showed good bravery in possession and tried to play on a tough pitch against a really hard-working Walsham-le-Willows team, who put us under a lot of pressure.

“Playing older age groups offers the obvious physical challenges and I thought we competed really well with a number of really good individual performances on the night,” he said.

Looking ahead to facing AFC Sudbury, whose players will almost all be a year or two older than his own, Pugh added: “It will be a really good test for the group.

“It’s important that we stretch our players when we can and allow them opportunities to show us what they can do. Sudbury are an excellent set up and we are looking forward to this challenge.

“Similar to previous games, we recognise that Sudbury are older and will have a physical advantage. However, if our players perform as they can and rise to the challenge, they give themselves a really good chance to win the game.

“Our approach is consistent and we will try and play with the style and beliefs that the Academy has as well as being tough to beat. Hopefully it will be a good game and both teams enjoy and benefit from the experience.”

Dave Cannon, who is coach of the AFC Sudbury side, said he doesn’t consider his side will start as favourites.

“We may have a wonderful history in this tournament but to suggest that Ipswich Town’s scholars do not start favourites is a little surprising,” he said.

“Although we’ve been in the final and won it on each occasion, it always feels like the first time. Each group are writing their own legacy and winning it in their own way. Fingers crossed we can keep the run going.”

AFC Sudbury overcame rivals Needham Market 2-1 in their last-four tie and Cannon said: “The most pleasing part is how the same group of boys 24 hours previously were winning away in ESFA knockout trophy semi-final in Leicester at Brooke House School.

“We were nowhere near our best on the night, but this group’s mentally is very robust.”

The AFC Sudbury team are pictured with former Suffolk FA Chair and Honorary Life Member David Porter, who donated the cup, prior to last season’s final in which they defeated Leiston 7-1 at Needham Market FC.


Spectator tickets are priced at £4 for general admission, £2 for concessions, £1 for under-16-year-olds, and free for accompanied under-11-year-olds and carers of those requiring support. All bookings will be subject to a 10% booking fee.

Supporters of AFC Sudbury are requested to purchase tickets in blocks W1-W4 and supporters of Ipswich Town U16s should book using blocks W6-W9.

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