Leiston’s big FA Cup tie against Barnet is thrown into doubt

PUBLISHED: 10:30 19 October 2020 | UPDATED: 19:08 21 October 2020

Jamie Eaton-Collins celebrates scoring Leiston's only goal with Dylan Switters (2) during Saturday's 4-1 home defeat to Peterborough Sports. Picture: HANNAH PARNELL

Jamie Eaton-Collins celebrates scoring Leiston's only goal with Dylan Switters (2) during Saturday's 4-1 home defeat to Peterborough Sports. Picture: HANNAH PARNELL

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Leiston’s eagerly-awaited FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie against Barnet, scheduled for this Saturday, is in further doubt because of new Covid-19 concerns surrounding the Hertfordshire club.

Leiston keeper Sam Donkin makes a crucial save for Leiston, but the Suffolk club went down 4-1 at home to Peterborough Sports on Saturday. Picture: HANNAH PARNELLLeiston keeper Sam Donkin makes a crucial save for Leiston, but the Suffolk club went down 4-1 at home to Peterborough Sports on Saturday. Picture: HANNAH PARNELL

The Bees had no option but to postpone their home match against Hartlepool United, in the National League, less than 24 hours before Saturday’s kick-off time due to a positive Covid-19 case, and now two more players have tested positive for the virus.

Barnet FC had been awaiting the results of tests involving two other players who had been recently in close contact with the original positive-testing player.

Those tests came back positive today, supporting the club’s decision to call off last weekend’s home fixture against Hartlepool.

There is therefore a possibility that Barnet might not be able to fulfil this Saturday’s fixture, in terms of sending a first-team squad, because of Covid-19 rules and restrictions, which could see the match forfeited and Leiston progress through to the first round proper, as has happened with several clubs in previous rounds.

Leiston players and fans celebrate after their famous penalty shoot-out success over AFC Telford United in the FA Cup third qualifying round tie. Picture: PAUL WESTLeiston players and fans celebrate after their famous penalty shoot-out success over AFC Telford United in the FA Cup third qualifying round tie. Picture: PAUL WEST

However, it is still likely that the Bees will be keen to send any sort of squad to Victory Road, with such a big prize at stake.

Barnet released the following statement earlier today:

‘Further to the postponement of our match against Hartlepool United on October 17, two further Barnet FC players have now presented positive test results.

‘The further two players are those who were in close direct contact with the player who tested positive on Friday, and were tested on Saturday morning.

Leiston joint manager Darren Eadie, the former Norwich City winger, pictured at Coalville Town from earlier in the season. His Leiston team are set to entertain Barnet this weekend. Picture: CARL MARSTONLeiston joint manager Darren Eadie, the former Norwich City winger, pictured at Coalville Town from earlier in the season. His Leiston team are set to entertain Barnet this weekend. Picture: CARL MARSTON

‘These results confirm the Club’s concerns ahead of the game, and provide further support for the best practice approach taken and the League’s decision to postpone.

‘All of our first team players and backroom staff have now been tested and have been self-isolating since last week. We are currently awaiting their results.

‘Unlike last weekend, we should have all test results back in advance of Saturday’s FA Cup tie with Leiston FC.

‘As such, the Club are hopeful that should negative results be returned, we will be able to return to training ahead of the fixture - in line with practice at other clubs.

Leiston players are hoping that this weekend's FA Cup game against Barnet still goes ahead. Picture:: HANNAH PARNELLLeiston players are hoping that this weekend's FA Cup game against Barnet still goes ahead. Picture:: HANNAH PARNELL

‘We are in communication with Leiston FC, and the status of our participation will be confirmed with the home club and with supporters once we know further.

‘Thank you for your continued understanding at this time.’

At the start of this week, Leiston chairman Andy Crisp commented with regards the original positive test at Barnet: “We have had contact with Barnet over this matter, but we are obviously carrying on as normal preparing for the game and selling tickets.

“Their secretary has been in touch with ours, and certainly Barnet are giving no indication that they will not be fulfilling the fixture.

Action from the first leg of the Suffolk Premier Cup Final, between Needham Market and Lowestoft Town. The second leg is tonight.Action from the first leg of the Suffolk Premier Cup Final, between Needham Market and Lowestoft Town. The second leg is tonight.

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“Their secretary said that they would even send their under-18s to play the fixture, if they had to, to make sure the game took place, though I don’t know whether this was said tongue-in-cheek. But they definitely want to play the match

Joe Marsden celebrates Needham Market's opening goal against Lowestoft Town in the first leg of the Suffolk Premier Cup Final. He went on to score the crucial goal in the second leg as well, last night. Picture: TERRY HUNTERJoe Marsden celebrates Needham Market's opening goal against Lowestoft Town in the first leg of the Suffolk Premier Cup Final. He went on to score the crucial goal in the second leg as well, last night. Picture: TERRY HUNTER

“We have so far sold more than 400 tickets, and we are still carrying on with our preparations for what is such a big game,” added Crisp.

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Leiston’s progress into the fourth qualifying round had been achieved through wins over Halstead Town, Biggleswade Town, Leighton Town and AFC Telford United.

The winners of this weekend’s tie, if it goes ahead, will go into the hat for the first round proper with the likes of Ipswich Town, Sunderland and Colchester United.

The Bees clash has already attracted big interest, but if Barnet are unable to proceed with next Saturday’s game, due to Covid-19 concerns, then Leiston are likely to be handed the tie.

The date for the first round proper is set for the weekend of November 7-8, which is only two weeks after this weekend.

A few Suffolk clubs have been directly affected by Covid-19 concerns in the FA Cup earlier in the campaign, with ties being forfeited.

Ely City were forced to do so against Stowmarket Town in a preliminary round tie, as did Walsham Le Willows in an extra-preliminary round tie at Newmarket Town, either due to positive cases or players showing symptoms of Covid-19.

AFC Sudbury also made progress in the FA Cup without kicking a ball against Burton Park Wanderers, due to the home club having a player tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of an extra preliminary round tie which had been due to be screened on the BBC sports website and red button.

- Needham Market lifted the Suffolk Premier Cup trophy for only the third time in their history, beating Lowestoft Town 4-3 on aggregate over the two legs despite losing last night’s second leg tie 2-1 at Crown Meadow.

The Marketmen were 3-1 up from the first leg at Bloomfields a week ago, but the Trawlerboys had levelled the aggregate score at 3-3 by the half-hour mark.

Two set-piece goals inside a two-minute spell put the cup final in the balance, Jacek Dielonka converting a 28th minute penalty and Louis McIntosh firing home a free-kick.

But Joe Marsden’s superb goal, just three minutes into the second half, was to prove crucial. His curling shot reduced the deficit on the night to 2-1, and sealed a 4-3 aggregate win despite a late red card for substitute Luke Ingram.

Needham had also beaten Lowestoft in the 2016-17 final, over just one leg, after first winning the competition in 2007-08 via a penalty shoot-out success over Leiston.

The Marketmen made all the early running. Jake Dye fired narrowly over on 13 minutes. while four minutes later and Billy Hunt dragged a shot across the face of goal and wide

However, Lowestoft almost broke the deadlock, midway through the first period. Parsons’ corner caused problems with keeper Marcus Garnham punching skywards. The ball was eventually cleared off the bar.

The Trawlerboys did get their noses in front on 28 minutes, thanks to Dielonka’s precise penalty. Dielonka himself had earned the spot kick.

Just two minutes later and it was 2-0 on the night, and 3-3 on aggregate, when McIntosh directed a 20-yard free-kick into the top corner of the net.

But Needham restored their aggregate advantage, just three minutes into the second half, thanks to a quality strike by Marsden.

Fresh from his superb goal in the first leg at Bloomfields, Marsden repeated the dose by curling home an unstoppable shot past keeper Warren Burwood on 48 minutes.

And Needham nearly levelled the scores on the night, after the hour mark, when Billy Hunt’s header from Dye’s cross clipped the top of the bar, while at the other end Garnham did well to divert a shot by Kieran Higgs over the bar.

The visitors suffered a blow when Ingram, just five minutes after coming on as a substitute, was sent off for foul and abusive language in the 75th minute.

Lowestoft searched for a late goal to level the aggregate, and Zielonka nearly did just that when blasting over late on, but Needham held on to win the cup.

Squads

LOWESTOFT TOWN: Burwood, Zielonka, Murphy, Jarvis, Andoh, Curry, McIntosh, Fisk (sub Lopez, 82), Oppong (sub Cox, 69), Higgs, Parsons. Unused subs: Wells, Tibbles, Barbor.

NEEDHAM MARKET: Garnham, Dye, Sturgess (sub Mills, 62), Collard, K Morphew, D Morphew, Page, Heath, Hunt, Marsden (sub Fletcher, 90), Fowkes (sub Ingram, 69). Unused subs: Northwood, Elsdon

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