Long Melford happy to be underdogs in Suffolk Senior Cup final
LONG Melford manager Jason Maher is quite happy for his side to be underdogs going into tonight’s Suffolk Senior Cup final at Portman Road.
The west Suffolk side face the holders and fellow Ridgeons League First Division side Whitton United in the showpiece final at Portman Road, kick-off 7pm.
Maher said: “We know all about them, after playing them twice this year and twice last year. We know they are a good side and that we start as underdogs, but I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing for us.
“We have some experienced players in our squad and players who will rise to the occasion. All the pressure will be on Whitton as they are expected to win, but we will be well organised and have a game plan.
“If we play to our strengths and do what we are good at, we will cause them trouble,” said Maher, who targeted a top-ten finish and a good run in the cup at the start of the season.
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Long Melford, who are expecting to have the backing of several hundred supporters at the final, are 11th in table, after winning three of their last four league games.
Maher said: “We lost 1-0 at March, where we deserved at least a point but didn’t take our chances, but having everyone available has made a difference.”
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Long Melford will be without strikers Danny Twyman and Adam Rickwood, who are both cup-tied, while the final has come too early for Danny Grindrod, who is a couple of weeks away from returning after suffering a broken leg.
“He has been with the club for six or seven years, so it is a bitter pill for him to swallow to miss the final,” added Maher.
Rival boss Ian Brown, whose side sit third in the table and have also reached the First Division KO Cup final, is not worried about Whitton starting as favourites.
Brown, whose professional clubs included Birmingham City and Bristol City, said: “The game is played on grass, it is not played on paper, and it is all about what happens on the night.
“If we play to our potential we should win, but if they play to their potential and we don’t then we will get beaten.
“Form goes out of the window in a cup final, and you hope you get that little bit of luck that you need.
“It is lovely to get there again. It is a good day out, but we will not be going there just for a day out – we want to retain the trophy.
“Whatever team I put out we hope they will do themselves justice and play to their potential.”
Whitton will be without defender Danny Swain and striker David Lorimer, who are both on loan from AFC Sudbury and are cup-tied.
Follow @nick_garnham for updates on tonight’s match