Premier Cup final preview: Victory could help build promotion momentum

ONE side still has a fight on their hands to secure a promotion play-off spot. The other needs to rebuild momentum after two big defeats cost them the title.

But tonight is all about cup glory and local bragging rights as Bury Town and Needham Market meet in the final of the LB Group Suffolk Premier Cup at Portman Road (7pm ko).

The build-up has been dominated by understandable squabblings over the date of the final – with Bury forced to play a must-win league match just 48 hours later, which will affect manager Richard Wilkins’ team selection.

But Needham boss Danny Laws is under no illusions of the higher-league challenge facing his players in their fourth consecutive Premier Cup final.

Laws said: “I see us as underdogs again after the last two cup finals against Lowestoft and Ipswich Town Reserves.

“I think we need to learn from both those defeats, we need to be a little bit more cautious. The two teams know each other very well and Bury have had a fantastic season. Whoever they put out, we will give them the respect they deserve.”

For Bury, Wilkins revealed he empowered his side with the decision over whether they could play a cup final and a massive league match at Cray Wanderers within two days.

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The Town boss said: “I can’t deny that the Cray game is more important. But all my players are keen to play in the final and the fact that they played three games in a week at the end of last season will come into my thinking. I have not won the Premier Cup since I have been at Bury so it is a big game for us as well.”

Wilkins wasn’t giving too much away about the identity of his starting line-up but it could turn out to be stronger than he first voiced. The big question marks will revolve around the senior members of his squad, namely Roscoe Hipperson, Neil Andrews and former Ipswich Town favourite James Scowcroft.

Unlike his opposite number in the dugout, Laws is expected to field virtually his strongest team. Two league defeats in four days has all but cost them the Ryman League Division One North title, but he is now calling on his players to build momentum going into the end of season play-offs where Needham have home advantage in the semi-final, after securing second spot.

New signing Jamie Goldbold is cup tied for Needham while Kevin Horlock, another former Town player, might have to be content with a watching brief, as Laws’ number two, rather than taking up his usual left-back spot.

Final facts

- Bury and Needham are going for promotion in the Ryman League Premier Division and Division One North respectively, albeit through the play-offs after they both lost top-of-the-table matches last weekend.

- It will be the fourth consecutive year Needham have appeared in the final of the Suffolk Premier Cup and they will be looking to make it third time lucky after losing to Lowestoft and then Ipswich Town Reserves.

- Bury lost in consecutive finals in 2004 and 2005 and have actually not tasted success in the competition for 15 years.

- There are close links between both sides, especially among the Needham ranks where Danny Laws was a former youth team manager at Bury, and some of his current side came through the West Suffolk side’s academy.

- This might be a kiss of death but tonight’s final comes with a fair expectation of goals as both teams between them have scored more than 150 times in their leagues this season.

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