REACHING the Suffolk Senior Reserve Cup Final is a 'great achievement' for both teams.
Walsham-le-Willows Reserves face Stowmarket Town Reserves in this season’s final at Bury Town FC on Saturday, kick-off 2pm.
Mark Cook, who is assistant manager of Walsham-le-Willows Reserves and will be taking charge of the side in the absence of manager Chay Budd, spelt out what it meant for their young side to reach the final.
He said: “It’s a great achievement for us as a squad to reach this season’s final, especially considering that is our first season in charge.
“Integrating a whole new and youthful squad is very rewarding and a great achievement from such a young but very talented group of players.”
Stowmarket Town finished third in the Thurlow Nunn Reserve League – one place and five points ahead of Walsham-le-Willows Reserves.
Cookie, as he is known, is expecting a closer match than when Walsham-le-Willows Reserves won 3-0 against the same opponents in the 2018-19 final at the same venue.
He said: “I think both teams have evolved as a club since that last meeting. Both teams possess many great and exciting young players.
“We have shared the spoils in the league this season, so it looks like being a greatly contested final. May the best team win.”
Walsham-le-Willows Reserves won 6-0 in their semi-final against Lakenheath Reserves and Cook said “We played a team we hadn't faced before and knew very little about.
“We did know their squad contained good players. We expected a hard game as reaching that stage is not a given, but we gave one of our best performances to date this season and ran out 6-0 winners to reach our first final as a squad.”
It will be Stowmarket Town Reserves’ fourth Suffolk Senior Reserve Cup Final in six seasons, and manager Craig Brown said: “It’s a great achievement.
“We take this competition very seriously, and this season is no exception.”
Brown is not looking to avenge that final loss as such to Walsham-le-Willows Reserves three years ago, rather concentrating on trying to win the cup for a second time.
“We will be going into this game wanting to win against a very good side – let’s hope we can take our current form into the final and get the right result,” he said.
Like their opponents, Stowmarket Town Reserves have a young side and Brown hailed the character they displayed in overcoming semi-final opponents Long Melford in their last-four tie at Claydon FC.
He said: “We beat a very well organised Long Melford side, with ten under-18 players in the squad showing great character to hold on to a 1-0 lead with ten men.”
Players from Walsham-le-Willows Reserves are pictured above celebrating after winning 3-0 against Stowmarket Town in the 2018-19 final at Bury Town FC.