LONG Melford are proud to be among such celebrated sides in the last eight of this season’s Endeavour Automotive Suffolk Premier Cup.
The Villagers, who are the lowest-ranked side left in the competition, travel to holders Needham Market in one of three quarter-final ties taking place on Tuesday evening.
Long Melford, who currently sit eighth in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division – two steps below their hosts on the non-league pyramid – defeated Fakenham Town 2-1 on Saturday.
Victory came at a price as substitute Ben Judge was carried off with suspected ankle ligament damage and misses the tie.
Long Melford manager David Hennessey said: “We are proud to be in the quarter-finals, and among such celebrated sides in the last eight.
“When the draw was made, we really wanted a home draw, as our record at Stoneylands is quite impressive and we’d have fancied our chances against anyone there.
“Sadly, it wasn’t to be, and we travel to in-form Needham on the back of two very impressive wins for them.
“We know it’ll be a tough game against very good opposition, but we go there as the lowest-ranked side in the competition knowing that there is no pressure on us whatsoever.
“With that in mind we can play with a bit of freedom and look to express ourselves and let the lads enjoy the experience and on the day who knows what can happen across the 90 minutes.
“It’s a big night for the club and a great opportunity for us to test ourselves against Step 3 opposition. Bring it on, I say!”
Bury Town host fellow Isthmian North side Lowestoft Town in arguably the tie of the round, according to Bury Town Chair Russell Ward.
The competition represents the only chance of winning silverware this season for Bury, who will be staging interviews for their vacant manager’s position this week.
Ward said: “It’s a big game. We have a good record over the years in the competition, as have Lowestoft Town, and even though they are above us in the league we will go into it thinking we have a good chance, especially as we are at home.
“They will be looking at our respective league positions and thinking they have a good chance, but on paper it is quite even.
“I am sure they will go strong, although they will have one eye on the play-offs, and we will be as strong as we can be. As we are mid-table in the league the Premier Cup is our last chance to win something this season.
“Although we have not had as good a season as we wanted to, the crowds have still kept coming in. Although there would have been a bigger crowd if it was a Saturday game, we still expect several supporters from Lowestoft, so we are anticipating a good crowd and a decent atmosphere.
“It is arguably the tie of the round and in some respects a shame it is not the final, but we will be looking to go through to the semi-finals.”
Isthmian North sides AFC Sudbury and Stowmarket Town, who meet at the MEL Group Stadium, have already faced each other three times this season, and Tuesday’s meeting could be the first of a further three!
They are scheduled to meet at the same venue in the league on April 1st and could meet for a sixth time in the Isthmian North Play-Offs.
Both sides had impressive victories on Saturday – AFC Sudbury beat Basildon United 5-0 and Stowmarket recorded their fourth win in a row with a 4-1 success at Great Wakering Rovers.
The remaining quarter-final tie will see Leiston host Ipswich Wanderers, the only other Step 5 side among the last eight, next Tuesday, March 28th.
Bury Town (blue shirts) are pictured above in action against Felixstowe & Walton United (red & white striped shirts) in the second round of last season’s Suffolk Premier Cup. Photograph: Thomas Bradford
Endeavour Automotive Suffolk Premier Cup Quarter-Finals: AFC Sudbury v Stowmarket Town, Bury Town v Lowestoft Town, Needham Market v Long Melford.
Veo Suffolk Boys’ U18 Midweek Cup Semi-Final: Cornard Utd v Needham Market at Long Melford FC.