Senior Cup Final Ips Wands Leiston Res May 2022 7

Leiston's Young Guns aiming for final spot

IT’S a ‘big achievement’ for Leiston U23s to reach the Suffolk Senior Cup Semi-Finals.

IT’S a ‘big achievement’ for Leiston Under-23s to reach this season’s CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup Semi-Finals.

Leiston U23s will take on Bungay Town in the last four of the competition on Friday night, kick-off 7.45pm, at the Fosters Solicitors Community Stadium, home of Lowestoft Town FC.



Manager Neil Smye said it was very pleasing for the club to reach the semi-final for the second time in three seasons. 

Playing as Leiston Reserves, the club went all the way to the final in the 2021-22 season, before losing 1-0 to Ipswich Wanderers at Colchester United FC.

The club could potentially be in both the Endeavour Automotive Suffolk Premier Cup and CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup Finals for the second in time in three years.

Smye said: “I think reaching both the Premier Cup and Senior Cup semi-finals has been an achievement, especially with such young players being involved with both squads at various stages.

“I believe the first-team squad had several players between the ages of 16-20 involved in the early rounds due to injuries, so to get through is a great achievement.

“The U23s are a young squad, so to reach the semi final in the first season that the majority of the players have competed at this level is an achievement in itself, so I guess that people at the club will be happy with the players’ development and how far they’ve come.

“As a squad we’ve had great support from Chris Wigger and Darren Eadie (first team management) Dave Williams (operations manager) and from the board in putting their trust in the process of developing young players who will hopefully progress to the first team and possibly bring the club success along their journey.”

Smye admitted he knows little about opponents Bungay Town, who play in Division One of the Fosters Solicitors Anglian Combination.

“I believe that the two leagues are the same level, Step 6, and the only difference between the two leagues is the distance travelled for games. They beat us pre-season, so if anything, I’d say they are favourites.

“Our squad has only one player who is not under the age of 19 so we’ve told them the game is reward for all the tough games they’ve faced so far this season, so there’s no pressure on us as a squad.

“If I’m honest I know nothing about Bungay Town other than being told they are doing well in their league. One of our coaches watched them on an afternoon out, so I’ll be chatting with him during the week.

“With our 23s being a development squad we approach each game the same regardless of what the game is or who we are playing. That’s not a disrespect to anyone but our main focus is to develop these young players for the first team.”

With this in mind, Smye said his side will not be altering their approach to the match just because it is a semi-final.

“Our instructions to the players before the match will be the same as always. To believe in themselves as much as all at the club believe in them, work hard, compete, enjoy the game and the occasion as lots of players never get to play in a semi-final, learn from the experience and come out of the game more experienced than the last game.

“Trust and express themselves and have no regrets thinking about what they could have done, give everything they have and leave nothing behind,” he said.

Only two players remain in the squad from their last semi-final two years ago - Ashdon Fowler and Cameron Rayworth.

Fowler will be in the match-day squad, but Rayworth has played in the Premier Cup for the first team so is now cup-tied.

Smye added: “We won’t have a full squad to select from as six of the U23s squad have played in the Premier Cup for the first team this season, but that gives other players the opportunity.

“It would be very rewarding for the club to reach the final this season. After changing the outlook on our development phase of the club from 13s to 23s (previously Reserve team) and for putting so much trust in the young players I’m sure everyone at the club would see it as a big achievement.”

Leiston Reserves (blue shirts) are pictured defending versus Ipswich Wanderers (white shirts) in the 2021-22 CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup Final at Colchester United FC.



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