Leiston U23s yel Bungay Town sky blue Senior Cup SF March 2024 4

Cup final is reward for the hard work

REACHING the Suffolk Senior Cup Final is a reward for Leiston U23s hard work.

REACHING the CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup Final is a reward for the hard work Leiston U23s players have put in this season, says manager Neil Smye.

Thurlow Nunn League Division One North Leiston take on Trimley Red Devils of the Macron SIL Senior Division in the final at Portman Road on Wednesday, kick-off 7.30pm.




It is the second time in three years that Leiston, playing then as Leiston Reserves, have reached the final, losing in the 2021-22 season 1-0 to Ipswich Wanderers at Colchester United FC.

Since beating Bungay Town 2-1 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in the semi-final, Smye said the team’s focus had bene on preserving their Step 6 status.

Smye said: “I think all at the club have quietly been looking forward to the final. But from a personal point of view, the focus after the semi-final was making sure we secured our Step 6 status for the U23s so our focus has been on league games.

“Personally I’ve not had many people approach me regarding the final, as they have been allowing us to continue our focus on the remaining league games.

“But there is definitely interest within the club, especially from those who have been involved for a long time. It is only 20 years ago that the first team were competing at this level. So, yes, the interest has been building since the last league games took place.

“As for level of support, in terms of numbers I have no idea how many will be attending the game, but what I do know is we have the backing and support from the people above and hopefully we will get lots of support from the young players within our YDP and their families, and hopefully our young team can put in a performance to repay their backing and support.”

With only Ashdon Fowler remaining from the squad that lost in the final two years ago, Leiston will field a young side in the showpiece final.

Smye said: “With the majority of the team playing their first full season in senior football, and most still being eligible for U18 and some U16 football, every game we’ve played this season has been a big test.

“So we will approach the game the same as every game we’ve played this season, stick to our philosophy, work hard, express yourselves, enjoy the game, have no regrets, and learn from the experience.

“In terms of ensuring they don’t ‘freeze’ on such a big stage, that’s down to each individual’s emotions. What I do know is that we have a good team of coaching staff that will do all they can to help them relax and enjoy the experience.

“We know Trimley are a good team, they have good movement, score goals, and have done well in their league. We had them watched so know what we are up against.”

Smye said his players, some of whom are Ipswich Town supporters, were excited at the prospect of running out at Portman Road, but from a coaching point of view it will be how they perform.

“Personally the biggest thing from the coaching staff point of view that we’re looking forward to is this being a reward for all the hard work the players have put in this season, and seeing how the boys handle the occasion and perform.

“And the fact that we’re competing in the final itself. From the players’ point of view, I believe they are excited about playing at Portman Road with some of them being Ipswich fans”

Smye said it would mean a lot to the club and all involved if the U23s were to win the Senior Cup.

“I’m not sure the players are old enough to understand the history of this competition or if their parents have told them of the history.

“But I do know they will give everything they have, and hopefully put in a performance the club can be proud of.

“In terms of adding to the history of the Senior Cup, they may be one of the youngest teams to play in the final and could possibly become one of the youngest teams to win it so far,” he added.




Leiston U23s players celebrate after winning the penalty shoot-out against Bungay Town 2-1 following a 1-1 draw at Lowestoft Town FC. Photograph: Shirley Whitlow

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