Suffolk need to stop free-scoring Cambs

SUFFOLK will have to stop free-scoring Cambridgeshire if they are to lift the FA County Youth Cup at Portman Road tomorrow.Cambridgeshire have racked up some impressive results as they have rattled in 23 goals in just five matches on their way to the final.

Nick Garnham

SUFFOLK will have to stop free-scoring Cambridgeshire if they are to lift the FA County Youth Cup at Portman Road tomorrow.

Cambridgeshire have racked up some impressive results as they have rattled in 23 goals in just five matches on their way to the final.

Alan Elbrow, the Cambridgeshire manager, said: “In the first three rounds we won quite comfortably and, without being disrespectful to the counties we played, we were not seriously tested.

“However, we have started off slowly in the majority of games and it has taken us 20 or 25 minutes to get going, so it will be good if we can hit the ground running in the final.

“In the quarter-final against Bedfordshire at Dunstable we struggled early on until we adapted to the conditions.

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“We then met Middlesex, who had an impressive route to the semi-final, including beating Liverpool away in the previous round, and they fancied their chances against us.

“We conceded an early penalty which was saved by our keeper, but within two minutes we were 1-0 down. After that our boys dug in and showed character to prove what a good side they are as we won 4-1.”

Cambridgeshire, who won the FA County Youth Cup in 1997, draw the majority of their players from just two clubs - CRC United and Histon - which means that most of their squad are playing regularly in the Premier Division of the Ridgeons League.

Elbrow, who is assisted by Mark Trimmer, said: “Because the boys are getting good coaching it makes our job much easier. All we have to do is motivate them on the day.”

The two sides have already met once this season, although Cambridgeshire use the East Anglian Counties Championship to blood under-16 players as well as those on the fringe of the under-18 side.

A goal in injury time by David Lorimer earned Suffolk a 1-1 draw at Histon in October and proved vital in Suffolk retaining the title they also won last year.

Elbrow, who also saw Suffolk play in their semi-final at home to West Riding, said: “I don't think there are any favourites come the final. It is about what happens on the day, although our form would suggest we are favourites. However, talented players can freeze on the big occasion.

“We have seen what Suffolk can do. They are a very organised side who work hard for each other.”

Elbrow picked out Chris Henderson, who scored in both the quarter-final and semi-final wins, as the danger man for a Suffolk side who will have home advantage.

He said: “They know what to expect, but we don't so that may give them an advantage. It will be great for the lads to play at somewhere like Portman Road. It will probably be the highlight of their career as most of them won't play that standard again.”

Elbrow said Cambridgeshire will be bringing a full squad of 23 players, although only 16 will be involved on the day.

“They all deserve to be involved on the day, but there are going to be some disappointed faces in the dressing room,” he added.

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