Big day for Suffolk's semi-finallists

SIX footballers have games at Anfield and Portman Road firmly in their sights.No, you are not on the wrong page - this is your local Friday football preview.

Elvin King


SIX footballers have games at Anfield and Portman Road firmly in their sights.

No, you are not on the wrong page - this is your local Friday football preview.

Even a full blown professional would welcome the chance to play at the home of Liverpool and Ipswich Town before this season is out.

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But this is the opportunity that presents itself to half a dozen members of the Brantham Athletic squad who face Hadleigh United in the semi-finals of the Touchline Sports Suffolk Senior Cup at Dellwood Avenue, Felixstowe tomorrow.

Victory will confirm a place in the final at Portman Road against either Grundisburgh or Leiston St Margarets.

And six of manager Tony Hall's squad will be included in the Brantham Colts party for their FA Carlsberg Sunday Cup semi-final against Coundon Conservative (Durham) at AFC Sudbury on March 16.

The winners will qualify for the final that is being held at the home of Liverpool.

First things first, with Hall looking to make it an all-Metaltec SIL Senior Cup final for the first time for ten years - when Grundisburgh beat Stonham Aspal.

Hadleigh are the only remaining Ridgeons League side left in a competition that has not seen an SIL winner since Grundisburgh eight years ago.

“We are up to Hadleigh's standard,” said Hall, who has experience of both leagues. If we believe in ourselves and get in their faces we will have every chance. But it will be all about what happens on the day. In semi-finals anything can happen.”

Hall makes no secret that his priority is the league - with a top three finish in the SIL Senior Division, and a move up to the Ridgeons League.

“I would like to win the league, but if the Senior Cup comes along with that I will take it,” he added.

Brantham have had their ground inspected by the Ridgeons League and are close to agreeing an FA grant to get the recommended work completed in time.

Brantham, who have doubts over the fitness of Patrick Brothers and Andrew French, have the following four other players in their squad who are also involved with Brantham Colts: Jon Jorgensen, Ryan Bedingfield, James Long and Sean Gunn.

Hadleigh manager Steve Jay is expecting a tight game for his fourth-in-the-table side. Mark Porter and Tommy Irving, who recently joined the Millfield-based outfit, are cup-tied after playing for Debenham and Ransomes respectively, while Pat Fleming is also out after injuring a knee last week.

IF tradition means anything then Grundisburgh will beat Leiston St Margarets in their Touchline Sports Suffolk Senior Cup semi-final at Melton St Audry's tomorrow.

Losing finalists last season, Grundisburgh have enjoyed five victories in seven finals over the last 20 years.

In contrast, Leiston St Margarets are seeking to reach their first final. They have never even reached the semi-finals before in their 110 year history.

The Saints surprised Ridgeons League Whitton United in the last round - when leading scorer Ross Pemberton was serving a suspension.

He is missing again serving a one-match ban while key player Daniel Threadkell is struggling with an injury sustained last Sunday.

Jamie Spatchett, who scored twice against Whitton, will again step up as manager Neil Cole looks to write a new chapter in the history of a Leiston St Margarets side that won the Suffolk Junior Cup three years ago.

Grundisburgh will be at full strength apart from Matty Fitch, who is attending a wedding in Newcastle. Striker Rene Swann, signed from Whitton United last month, is eligible as Grundisburgh look to continue their quest for the treble.

They top the SIL, and are in the quarter-finals of the Omnico Cup with joint manager Kevin Cunningham saying: “Leiston beat us earlier in the season, and it will be close.

“We will be going into the game expecting to win, but it will be about who wants it most. The standards of all leagues have dropped in recent years, but it is a feather in the cap of the SIL to have three sides in the Senior Cup last four.

“Losing in the final to Stowmarket Town last year was a painful experience, but losing in the semi-finals hurts more. A Portman Road final provides a wonderful day out - and we want some more.”

NEEDHAM Market manager Danny Laws says that he will be quite happy to pit his wits against whoever qualifies for the semi-finals of the FA Vase.

Laws' Ridgeons League, Premier Division outfit take on Combined Counties runaway leaders Merstham in the quarter-final in the Surrey countryside tomorrow.

“They are the bookmakers' favourites to win the Vase, and I am looking to my players to see us through to the last four,” said Laws.

“Our preparation will be spot on and I shall be looking for another hero.

“Whoever else goes through I will be quite happy to pit my wits against any of them for a place at Wembley.”

Laws has a full squad to select from apart from skipper Mark Bailey, who is suspended. His representatives have watched Merstham three times with Laws grateful for the best wishes he has received from Suffolk FA and the Ridgeons League.

“We want to do the county of Suffolk proud,” added Laws.

Thirteen points clear at the top of the table, Merstham missed out on a move up to the Ryman League last season because their new stand was delivered two weeks too late.

Runners up in the Combined Counties Premier Division they kept 19 clean sheets last season.

Managed by Mick Sullivan, Merstham have twins Rob and Joe Hill in their defence. Last season they were knocked out of the Vase at the first attempt, and the year before at the second attempt.

Metaltec SIL recent transfers: Richard Carter (Achilles to Waterside), Adam Giles (Meadlands to Old Newton), Gregory Nunn (BT Trimley to Felixstowe United), Wayne Pannell (Capel Plough to Old Newton), Ashley Parker (Stowupland Falcons to Mendlesham), David Sutton (Achilles to Waterside), Colin Waggott (Stowupland Falcons to Stowmarket Stag).