AFC Sudbury Reserves manager Dave Cannon has inside knowledge of their CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup Semi-Final opponents – he taught five of them at school!
Cannon was a teacher at Leiston High School (now Alde Valley Academy) when the quintet were young schoolboys.
He will come up against his former pupils when AFC Sudbury Reserves take on Halesworth Town in Friday’s semi-final at the Atalian Servest Stadium, home of Bury Town FC, kick-off 7.45pm.
Cannon said: “A sub-plot to the semi-final is that I taught five of their boys from the age of 12 or 13 while I was at Leiston High School, so I know them well.
“I was spotted by one of my former pupils, Will Ridgard, when I went to watch Halesworth recently. They are a really solid SIL team who have a fairly settled side and are well organised.
“They will want to reach the final as much as we do, so it will come down to what happens on the day.”
Cannon’s charges went on a 13-match unbeaten run up until early March and occupied one of the Thurlow Nunn League Division One North play-off positions until recently.
He said: “The nucleus of the group have been doing well in the Thurlow Nunn League since November. They are probably going to fall short of the play-offs but are one point away from the highest ever points total achieved in the Thurlow Nunn League by our Academy side since we first joined the league.
“The recent run of results has coincided with being involved in the Suffolk Boys’ U18 Midweek Cup as well as two national cup quarter-finals at U18 and U19 level.”
Despite being an Academy side, Cannon said his players are not fazed by competing in men’s football.
“We have four U19s in the side who have been playing adult football for three years and the other boys who have been playing for one or two years, so they are used to the physical side of men’s football.
“Eight of our outfield players against Ransomes Sports (who they defeated 3-0 in the quarter-finals) were six-foot plus,” said Cannon, who will have a full squad to choose from.
He said: “I have got 23 boys I can pick from but only 16 will be in the squad. Everyone is fit at the same time and one of the hardest things is having to say to a lad you are not going to be involved, but that is all part of their football development.
“We are usually the favourites in Youth football and the underdogs in men’s football, but we know we have a really good opportunity to move a step closer to winning this competition.
“As an Academy we have targets every season – our points totals in the Thurlow Nunn League and the Border League, how far we can go in national cup competitions, retaining the Suffolk Boys’ U18 Midweek Cup and winning the Suffolk Senior Cup is one that has always been up there.”
AFC Sudbury Reserves’ Jamie Bennett is pictured above (yellow shirt) riding a tackle in their recent Thurlow Nunn League Division One North match against Whittlesey Athletic. Photograph: Steve Screech