FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL BY THE SEASIDE. Suffolk non-league duo Felixstowe & Walton and Hadleigh United meet tonight in the first of the four ‘Groundhoppers’ fixtures this weekend

Felixstowe & Walton's Ben Cranfield will look to fire his team to success tonight

Felixstowe & Walton's Ben Cranfield will look to fire his team to success tonight - Credit: Archant

Friday night football hits Suffolk tonight as old Thurlow Nunn Premier Division foes Felixstowe & Walton United and Hadleigh United pit their wits against one another in what promises to be a fastly-paced and keenly-contested encounter.

Hadleigh centre-half Mark Goldfinch (blue) will try to keep Ben Cranfield as quiet as possible tonig

Hadleigh centre-half Mark Goldfinch (blue) will try to keep Ben Cranfield as quiet as possible tonight - Credit: Archant

Tonight’s fixture, held at Felixstowe’s Goldstar Ground, between two sides expected to be up at the top end of the spectrum again come the end of the season, is the start of the ‘24-hour Groundhoppers Day’ – whereby spectators have the chance to watch four non-league games at various grounds in less than 24 hours.

There is no doubt that tonight’s eagerly-anticipated game is the pick of the bunch though – after all, Kevin O’Donnell’s Felixstowe & Walton chased eventual 2013/14 Thurlow Nunn Premier Division champions Hadleigh all the way in a nail-biting finale to last season, with Duane Wright’s 86th minute header on the final day seeing the title go to the Brettsiders in dramatic fashion.

Consistent performances and results up until the very end saw the Seasiders of Felixstowe mount an almighty challenge, particularly when they defeated Hadleigh 4-1 towards the end of the campaign in this fixture last season.

Brettsiders boss Stuart Crawford admits he still has nightmares over that result, and will hope his side can put those memories to rest tonight.


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“We got well and truly beaten that day,” admitted Crawford.

“We were taught a lesson in finishing. I think Ben Cranfield got two that day, and he’s a class act.

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“In my opinion, he is the best striker in the league, he scores goals, he has fantastic movement, he holds the ball up, and he’s a big asset to Felixstowe. He’ll be difficult to stop.”

Crawford will hope centre-half Mark Goldfinch can keep him quiet on an evening that promises to be a good advert for Suffolk non-league football – something new Felixstowe assistant manager Danny Bloomfield is particularly looking forward to.

“I like Friday night football, it adds something different,” added Bloomfield.

“Both teams play the right way and hopefully we can attract lots of local non-league fans and players to what is a big game for both sides.”

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