Bury and Leiston dream of FA Cup glory while Barnet are hit by 10 positive cases for Covid-19
- Credit: Archant
Bury Town and Leiston are both involved in big FA Cup ties this weekend, hoping to get their names in the hat for the first round proper alongside Ipswich Town
Bury Town and Leiston will both be flying the Suffolk flag with immense pride, when they bid to reach the first round proper of the FA Cup this weekend.
Bury take on higher-level opposition in Banbury United (Step 3) away from home in Oxfordshire, while Leiston welcome Step 1 club Barnet to Victory Road, both for fourth qualifying round ties.
The prize on offer is to have their names in the hat for the first round draw, along with the likes of Ipswich Town, Sunderland, Bolton Wanderers and Colchester United.
UPDATE ON BARNET’S COVID-19 PLIGHT
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Barnet now have a total of 10 players who have tested positive for Covid-19 over the last week or so, in addition to their manager Peter Beadle.
Even so, the Hertfordshire club remain confident of fulfilling this weekend’s fixture at Leiston.
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The most recent club statement from Barnet FC read as follows:
‘Further to our club statement on October 21, we can confirm a further six players/staff have presented positive COVID test results.
‘These additional results follow the earlier tests carried out for the entire first team players and back-room staff.
‘Close contact tracing has also resulted in an additional player being required to self-isolate for the full 14-day period, in spite of testing negative.
‘Overall, 10 playing members of our first team have been affected over the last two weeks.
‘With one of these players ending his isolation period ahead of Saturday, there will be nine out of action for our FA Cup tie against Leiston.
‘Manager Peter Beadle has also returned a positive test and will not be able to lead the team for the mandated self-isolation period. Beadle is currently asymptomatic and doing well.
‘Subject to any change in the current situation, the club remains confident of being able to field a team on Saturday and negative testing players will return to training from tomorrow (today).
‘Another round of testing for all will be carried out next week and we remain in communication with the relevant clubs and regulatory bodies.’
IN THE LEISTON CAMP
Leiston’s joint manager, Chris Wigger, believes that Barnet’s struggles with the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in 10 players having tested positive, could make this weekend’s showdown “a more even match.”
However, Wigger has warned against any complacency.
“I guess all of Barnet’s Covid-19 problems have added more spice to the game, but it will still be a very tough proposition for us,” admitted Wigger, last night.
“The communication between the two clubs has been really good, and Barnet have done all they can to keep us updated.
“It’s a really difficult situation for them to be in, but they have always made it clear that they have wanted to fulfil the fixture, even if they had to resort to sending the Under-18s to play us - though I still think that was a bit of a tongue-in-cheek comment.
“I feel for them, but it won’t be in Barnet’s nature to throw in the towel. They have a big pool of high-quality players.
“They might have to include a lot of younger lads in their squad, but then we are a very young team ourselves, with only Rob Eagle and (recent signing) Adam Bailey-Dennis aged over 26.
“It remains a massive game for the club, and it looks like being a sell-out crowd of 600.
“As I said to the lads in the previous round (penalty shoot-out win over AFC Telford United), they have nothing to lose. We are playing a team from two levels higher up in the pyramid.
“Sure, Barnet have had a very disruptive last couple of weeks, but we cannot afford to get complacent. We must not allow that to surface inside our dressing room.
“I have been involved in weakened sides, as a player, where we have come away with results. The players tend to be more resolute on these occasions,” added Wigger.
IN THE BURY CAMP
Bury Town boss Ben Chenery is anticipating a “great cup tie” at Banbury, who are currently mid-table in the Southern League Premier Central, the same division as second-placed Needham Market and bottom club Leiston.
The Blues having been going great guns this season, winning six games on the trot before last weekend’s FA Trophy defeat at Loughborough Dynamo.
“We will start as the underdogs, but then we have already been two Step Three clubs on this cup run,” explained Chenery.
“Banbury are a very good team. They will provide tough opposition, will play their pitch well, and will be quick to the second balls.
“No quarter will be given, and I expect it to be a great cup tie.
“Last Saturday (1-0 defeat at Loughborough Dynamo) was a game too far for the boys, after what has been a hectic start to the season.
“They just ran out of steam. When we picked up a couple of injuries on the opening day at Cogenhoe United (1-0 win in the FA Cup), I knew that it would be a difficult start to the season for us because that meant six long-term injuries.
“We have had to go with the same squad most weeks, and the same 13 players used. I haven’t been able to change it much.
“The previous week’s FA Cup win over Nuneaton Borough (2-0) had taken a lot of the players, and they were emotionally and physically shattered last weekend.
“But we’ve had a week to rest up, and this is a great game to be involved in this weekend.
“Most players don’t get that many opportunities to get through to the first round proper of the FA Cup.
“We’ve had four tough games along the way, and we will be the underdogs again.
“It’s a shame that only 90 of our fans have managed to get tickets. We had 130 season ticket holders alone apply for the 90 tickets available.
“And in normal times, if we had been at home, I reckon we would have got a crowd of around 1,500,” added Chenery.
ROUTES TO THE FIRST ROUND
BURY TOWN: bt Cogenhoe United (1-0 away), bt Brightlingsea Regent (2-1 at home), bt Waltham Abbey (4-1 at home), bt Nuneaton Borough (2-0 at home), v Banbury United (away, 3pm)
LEISTON: be Halstead Town (5-0 at home), bt Biggleswade Town (5-1 at home), bt Leighton Town (2-1 away), bt AFC Telford UNitved (9-8 on pens after a 0-0 draw), v Barnet (home, 3pm)
WHAT ARE THEIR CHANCES?
Both Suffolk clubs have a fighting chance of reaching the first round proper.
Bury Town would have naturally preferred a home tie, but they ooze confidence and have the firepower to unsettle Banbury. A victory is not out of the question.
Leiston, meanwhile, have home advantage on their side, and also the fact that Barnet’s preparations have been seriously disrupted by a spate of positive tests for Covid-19 over the last week.
The Bees were forced to call off last weekend’s National League match against Hartlepool, and have since had a very unsettling last few days.
Leiston, therefore, will feel they have a chance, catching Barnet when they are at a low web.
Call me mad, call me biased, but I can see at least one of our two Suffolk sides reaching the first round proper.
I think Bury have the potential to win at Banbury (by a 1-0 score-line), and I’m hoping Leiston will surprise me and win as well. I did favour a 3-1 home defeat, but recent developments suggest Barnet could be there for the taking.