ON PAPER it is a mis-match, but football is not played on paper.
Those are the words of Leiston Reserves manager Ryan Honeyman ahead of his side’s CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup Final versus Ipswich Wanderers.
The two teams meet in the showpiece final at the Jobserve Community Stadium, home of Colchester United FC, on Friday, kick-off 7.30pm.
Honeyman’s young side, who finished ninth in Thurlow Nunn League Division One North, will be aiming to upset the form book against the side that won Division One South.
He said: “To lose only one game all season, have a plus 100 goal difference and to be the best side in terms of goals conceded in the whole country, tells us what a good side they are.
“We have watched them and we have listened to what other sides who have played against them have said, and we know what a challenge we face.
“If the last two seasons had not been interrupted by Covid they would have probably gone up the first year, but if not then last year, so in theory we are playing a Step 5, if not Step 4, side at Step 6 level, and the size and experience in their squad reflects that.
“Names like Dev (Danny) Cunningham and Matt Blake jump off the page at you while Ben Stannard, who was one of our more senior players before deciding to join Wanderers last September, struggles to get into their starting line-up, so that shows you the gulf between the two sides.
“It is a one-off game and we have beaten teams who are top of the league before, but we will have to be at the top of our game to give ourselves a chance and see where it takes us.
“On paper it is a mis-match but football is not played on paper and whatever happens the boys have given me everything this season.
“Although fingers point to Ipswich Wanderers winning, we will give it a really good go.”
Leiston Reserves reached the final for the first time thanks to winning a penalty shoot-out 3-1 following a 2-2 draw against Macron SIL Senior Division side East Bergholt United.
Seventeen-year-old goalkeeper Harrison Podd, who saved two of the four penalties he faced, is delaying travelling to Scotland in order to play in the final.
Honeyman said: “It came up after the semi-final win that his mum and partner will delay leaving to go to Gretna Green so they can watch him play in the final before taking him with them.
“Harry came into the side at the end of the calendar year and has been absolutely fantastic for us. He has only just turned 17 but we have high hopes for him within the club that he will push on.”
Honeyman said he expects to be at full strength apart from Iuri Fernandes, who is cup-tied after playing for the first team in the Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup against Brantham Athletic.
Leiston Reserves’ goalkeeper Harrison Podd is pictured above making a fine save against East Bergholt United in their semi-final tie at Woodbridge Town FC. Photograph: Paul Voller.