AFC Sudbury have chance to clinch silverware in Robert Dyas League Cup at Maidstone

David Batch

David Batch - Credit: Andy Abbott

AFC Sudbury’s opponents in Tuesday’s Robert Dyas League Cup Final are flying high in the division above and will have the advantage of playing at their home ground, but that doesn’t bother the Suffolk side.

David Batch’s team face Ryman League Premier high-flyers Maidstone at the Stones’ Gallagher Stadium (7.30pm), knowing they will be big underdogs.

Sudbury, 10th in Ryman League Division One North, had the chance to object to tonight’s venue, following Maidstone’s offer to stage the final, but Batch says his players are relishing the challenge ahead.

“Maidstone offered their ground to the league and we put it to our players,” said Batch.“They had no problem with it. Maidstone are averaging attendances of about 1,600 this season and it will be nice for my players to play in front of more people than usual. It adds to the occasion and the football club is putting on free buses to the game which is a nice touch.

“We are leaving early afternoon and stopping for a pre-match meal on the way and it is nice that we can do these extra things.” He added: “On the night we have nothing to lose. We’re playing a team in a higher division that are flying high and they should win the game. We just need to make sure we ask the right questions of Maidstone and hopefully they will give some wrong answers that we can turn into positives.”

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Sudbury will contest the game on Maidstone’s 3G surface which is housed at their new 2,226-capacity stadium and opened in 2012.

The pitch has achieved a FIFA two-star rating but the club, fourth in Ryman Premier, have yet to receive permission to play in the Football Conference.

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“The pitch is not a problem and lots of my lads have come up playing (on pitches like that) in academy football,” Batch added. “It’s not a surface we play on every week, although we have played at Harlow’s (3G pitch) a couple of times, and it should be conducive for more football to be played.”

Meanwhile Batch says Sudbury’s appearance in the League Cup Final, after they were runners-up in 2008, is a sign of progression.

The club reached the FA Vase Final three times in succession during the 2000s and have hit good form in knock-out football this term.

“I think the club finished 17th last season and went out at the first hurdle in each cup competition, whereas we have had tremendous runs in three cups this season,” said Batch. “We are not a million miles away and we are working on things off the pitch which we will announce in the coming weeks, which is pleasing.”

Read Carl Marston’s match report in Wednesday’s EADT

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