Leiston can concentrate on chasing Suffolk Premier Cup glory now, says manager

Leiston boss Steve Ball

Leiston boss Steve Ball - Credit: Lucy Taylor

Leiston’s starting XI against Bury Town tonight will reflect the fact that Steve Ball’s rescue mission at Victory Road is almost complete.

Leiston were two places off the Ryman League Premier relegation places when Ball took over from Steve Pitt in December, but are now 22 points clear of the bottom four and just nine points off an unlikely tilt at the play-offs.

While Ball accepts making the top-five isn’t mathematically impossible, he is realistic enough to know that the Suffolk Premier Cup represents his team’s best shot at glory this season.

“Our mindset has changed a hell of a lot,” said Ball.

“With total respect to the Suffolk Premier Cup, which is a great competition, it didn’t feature high on my list of priorities when I took over.

“The aim was to keep the team up and now the players have almost done that, this cup has become a good one for us to win.

“I would have probably rested a few players for this game at one stage, but I have gone from that to probably being in the position where I will put out a full-strength team.

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“You can never say never with respect to the league, but I do think it would be a big ask.”

Ball’s team pulled off an impressive 2-0 victory against Bury, at Ram Meadow a month ago, and go into tonight’s game off the back of a 2-0 win at Hampton & Richmond Borough at the weekend.

In contrast, Bury have lost four of their last five in the league but despite that, Ball says there is nothing between the two teams.

“Bury are a much more experienced side at this (Ryman League Premier) level than we are,” said Ball.

“They didn’t have Tom Bullard and Adam Bailey-Dennis available in the league game against us a month ago and with the other departures there, they still have a strong side.

“It’s a really ‘even-stevens’ kind of game and we are not the favourites in my opinion.”

Kick-off tonight is 7.45pm, while Felixstowe & Walton United face Needham Market at Leiston tomorrow evening.

In the Red Insure (League Challenge) Cup semi-final tonight, Ely host Newmarket, the winners to play Brantham or Felixstowe & Walton.

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