Sporting 87 manager Jon Warnock has set his sights on a historical milestone for the club by reaching the Suffolk Junior Cup final.
The club are gearing up for their semi-final clash with Oulton Broad at Kirkley and Pakefield’s Walmer Road ground tomorrow (3pm), in a repeat of last year’s match at the same stage of the competition in which Broad sealed a 2-0 victory.
With the added incentive of securing a place in the showpiece final at Ipswich Town’s Portman Road stadium — to face either Bungay Town or Claydon — Warnock is well aware of the magnitude of reaching the final and what it would mean to the club.
“Getting through to the final would be a historic milestone for the club,” he said. “We never have done it before and to get there would be brilliant for us.
“Five or six of our squad have played at Portman Road before with other clubs so they know how special it would be to get there again.
“We also have several Ipswich Town fans so it would be special for them, but for the club as a whole it would amazing.
“I’m sure we would have a huge following with us if we got to the final, it would be a really great occasion for the club.
“Last year Oulton beat us fair and square, they are a very good side.
“However, so are we and if we perform how I know we can on the day then we have a very good chance of winning.
“Revenge may be on the minds of some of our players as motivation, but the fact is if you’re not motivated for a semi-final as it is then you shouldn’t be playing.”
If Sporting are to banish the demons of last year’s exit, they will have to overcome a side who have been a daunting prospect for most opponents over the last two seasons.
Last year the Lowestoft-based club enjoyed a perfect campaign, winning all 18 of their domestic games on their way to the Lowestoft and District League Division One title.
This year, the club have suffered just two defeats in their opening 14 games and currently sit second in the table, three points behind league leaders DK Consultants FC.
Warnock is well aware of the threat that tomorrow’s opponents pose, but remains confident his side — who are currently fourth in Suffolk and Ipswich League Division One and overcame Kirkley and Pakefield 2-1 in the previous round — can fulfil their ambitions of lifting the cup.
“The facts are that Oulton deserved to win the match last year,” he added. “They went the whole season undefeated, so they are obviously a good side, the facts don’t lie.
“They may not be as strong as they were last year, but they are still a very good side and we have to be aware of that.
“However, every team at this stage of the competition will feel they can go on and win it and we are no different.”