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By Nick Garnham
Thursday, November 22, 2012
FOR a side once languishing at the foot of the table, without a manager and not having scored in the league for more than seven hours, Felixstowe & Walton United have come a long way in a short time.
The Seasiders now sit fifth from bottom of the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division and have two cup quarter-finals to look forward to in the New Year.
As well as reaching the last eight of the Red Insure Cup, formerly the Ridgeons League Cup, where a home tie awaits against Gorleston, Felixstowe will entertain Ipswich Town in the John Banks Suffolk Premier Cup.
The date of that tie has now been confirmed as Tuesday, January 8, for what should be a money-spinning occasion for the non-league side.
Ipswich have played at Dellwood Avenue, now known as the Goldstar Ground, once before in the Suffolk Premier Cup, winning 3-1 in October 2006.
The Town team that day included Jordan Rhodes (now Blackburn Rovers), Scott Barron (now Millwall) and Dean Bowditch (now MK Dons) with Darryl Knights (two) and Sammy Moore scoring the goals.
Tony Barnes, the Seasiders’ vice-chairman and director of football, said: “We were fortunate to experience playing Ipswich before, and we are looking forward to it again.
“We will try to provide some pre-match entertainment, possibly involving our juniors if we can, and hopefully make it a night to remember.”
Town took a strong squad to Walsham-le-Willows last week, where a crowd of 745 saw them win 5-1 and leave the village side banking a “significant amount of money” according to club chairman Mike Powles.
Barnes said: “If Ipswich do bring a similar squad there is no reason why we can’t be looking at a four-figure attendance.
“If we can make some more money on the night it will make up for the poor attendance we had at our fireworks display which was because of the wet weather.”
After appointing Steve Buckle as manager in pre-season and then removing him from post before the end of September, Barnes is delighted with the progress under new joint managers Kev O’Donnell and Rob Charles.
The Seasiders have won five, drawn one and lost one of their seven games since the new duo took over, to move off the bottom of the table and reach their second cup quarter-final of the season.
Barnes said: “We have only had one defeat in the league and won two cup games, which we would have expected to win against Division One sides.
“Most of those games we would have expected to get something out of, but beating second-in-the-table Wisbech was a bonus and proved we are capable of competing with the best teams in the league.
“The coaching has been much more professional and is having a positive impact on the players, although we are always looking for new players to improve the side.”
Hadleigh United will face Lowestoft Town in the John Banks Suffolk Premier Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday, January 9, 2013.
The tie had provisionally been arranged for the previous day, but has been put back 24 hours in order to avoid a clash with Felixstowe & Walton United’s tie with Ipswich Town.