Stage set for a grandstand finish for Suffolk sides in Ryman Premier
The final month of the Ryman Premier season promises to be one of the most exciting and dramatic in the history of Suffolk football.
With just weeks to go, Needham Market and Leiston are thoroughly in the play-off mix, while, at the other end, AFC Sudbury’s odds of escaping the drop are dwindling by the game, Jamie Godbold’s team four points from safety with six games to go.
Tonight, Glenn Driver’s Leiston, third in the table and level on points with fourth-placed Needham, play one of the three games in hand they have on Mark Morsley’s Marketmen.
However, they will have to be at their very best to get a result, as the Blues travel to league leaders Bognor Regis.
The Suffolk duo are four points clear of Dulwich, the team just outside the play-offs, and both managers are targeting at least four wins between now and the end of the season, Needham having five games remaining and Leiston eight.
Ahead of his team’s game at Bognor tonight, Driver said: “I don’t think the penny has dropped with me yet, just how big a level this is, as I have never managed or played there before.
“I think it might sink in if we reach the play-offs, when it becomes a lottery, and if we get there, I think I might realise what a big job I took on in the summer.
“There were some doubters when I took this job, but I know the game as far as pressure goes, so I am taking it all in my stride.”
Morsley’s men do not play again until Saturday, when they travel to Staines Town in a must-win fixture.
After that, the Marketmen play Met Police and Harrow Borough, before finishing off with significant games against AFC Sudbury and Billericay.
“I think we have got to win our next four games as by the end of the season, Billericay will probably have half the England team in their squad,” joked Morsley, in reference to the Essex club’s recent signings of former Premier League stars, Paul Konchesky and Jamie O’Hara.
A former Sudbury manager, Morsley added: “I want to beat Sudbury and I hope they win every game they play apart the one against us.
“I have been involved in some great games there and I want that to continue.”
Morsley led Needham to the Ryman North title on a dramatic last day in 2015, and enthused: “I have become known for being involved in some incredible last-day performances.”