Felixstowe & Walton face Needham Market in Suffolk Premier Cup
- Credit: Archant
There promises to be something of a reunion tonight as Kevin O’Donnell’s Felixstowe & Walton United take on Mark Morsley’s Needham Market in the second of the Suffolk FA Premier Cup semi-finals, at Leiston FC, the winners to face Bury Town in the final at Portman Road.
With a trip to Portman Road against last night’s victors in the Leiston versus Bury clash, a number of familiar faces will pit their wits against each other this evening in what promises to be a feisty and fast-paced encounter.
O’Donnell is held in high regard at Needham after spending five years as a coach at Bloomfields under previous boss Danny Laws, while Morsley has several links at Felixstowe having previously managed several of the current Seasiders’ crop at Needham.
With Felixstowe flying high in the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division and Needham continuing to climb up the Ryman North table, the scene is set for an epic non-league derby in Suffolk, and both managers are looking forward to it.
“Obviously I have a lot of connections at Needham after my years as a coach there so it adds something a bit extra,” said O’Donnell.
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“To be honest, we’re just looking at it as another League game.
“The prize is great but we’ll approach the game like we do any other game.”
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Felixstowe go into the game in excellent form, having lost just once in all competitions since mid-October, and O’Donnell wants his players to make amends for what happened in last year’s competition where the Seasiders famously beat an Ipswich Town side 2-1 in the quarter-finals, only to be kicked out of the prestigious competition days later by Suffolk FA for fielding an ineligible player.
“Yes, what happened last season does give us an extra bit of an incentive,” added O’Donnell.
“But it’s gone now and we don’t really want to focus on what happened – we have a different squad in a different season now.
“All the players and supporters enjoy this competition and the journey it brings with it; playing at Portman Road is the pinnacle so we’re all looking forward to the game.”
For Morsley, it is his first time returning to old club Leiston, and with several ex-Marketmen who played under the outspoken manager in the Felixstowe starting 11, he is certainly looking forward to proceedings.
Lewis Pemberton, Bradley Barber, Ben Cranfield, Danny Thrower, and Seasiders’ assistant manager Danny Smy have all played under Morsley previously, with the manager adding: “It certainly makes for an interesting game.
“Kev has got them well organised and I’m looking forward to the game for many different reasons.
“It’ll be good to see and play against some of my old boys again and everything points to a good game, a good spectacle and a good advert for Suffolk football.”
Having seen his side’s game postponed at the weekend, Morsley wasted no time in scouting tonight’s opponents as he was an interested spectator in the Seasiders’ 6-0 demolition of Brantham Athletic on Saturday.
“I thought they were very good and we shouldn’t underestimate them,” summarised Morsley.
“Offensively, they looked very dangerous, and if Ben Cranfield (scorer of four of Felixstowe’s six goals) plays like he did on Saturday against us then we’ll be in for a test that’s for sure.
“Promotion is and always has been the single aim of the season but we want to win this game and get to the final, of course we do.”
Whereas, O’Donnell has a fully-fit squad to select from tonight, Morsley will be without the cup-tied trio of Ryan Crisp, Luke Hammond and David Cowley, who have all represented Leiston or AFC Sudbury respectively in a previous round of the competition.
Kick-off is at 7.45pm.