RICHARD Wilkins has admitted that his troops will need to be firing on all cylinders when Bury Town go head to head with rivals Needham Market – in what is one of the most eagerly-awaited Suffolk Premier Cup finals for many years.
The Blues boss is expecting nothing other than a fast and furious war, but firmly believes his side will prevail in front of a bumper crowd at Portman Road (writes Mark Williams).
“The players are fired up and we are all really looking forward to this eagerly anticipated game,” said Wilkins, who is yet to win a cup competition in his 11 years at Ram Meadow.
“If we play to the levels we are capable of then we should win. That means collectively we have to be patient, pass the ball and be clinical in front of goal when it matters.”
The Ipswich showpiece was given added spice when the two teams descended into a war of words over the date of the fixture and Wilkins insists that will make for an even more exciting occasion.
“There is a little bit of needle there if you like,” he said. “Not just because of the date but also because Needham have so many former Bury players in their ranks - it is almost half a team.
“But it is essential we pay them respect. This is their fourth straight cup final at Portman Road and they will be going for it. They are a very good attacking side and Craig Parker scores a lot of goals for them.”
Bury have a full squad to choose from with the exception of long term absentee Callum Kearns, but Wilkins is still pondering his starting XI as the club bid to land their first Suffolk cup since 1996 when they beat Woodbridge 5-4 on penalties.
Since then the Blues have reached the final on two occasions - losing to bitter rivals AFC Sudbury 4-0 in 2004, before getting edged out 4-3 by Lowestoft Town the following year.
“There is a big interest in the game from supporters and officials and it would be nice if we could take nearly 1,000 of our own fans,” said Wilkins.
“I have always said that the league is where our priority lies but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to win this game, because I do.
“I want to win every game I am involved in and this is no different.”
Less than 40 hours later, Bury face a crucial Ryman League Premier Division trip to Cray Wanderers in Bromley, Kent (3pm).
Wilkins added: “I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. The only way our fans will be happy is if we win both games so that is what we aim to do.”