Batch’s eyes on the prize

SUPER SUB: Ben Thompson scored AFC's opener in the 2-0 FA Trophy victory over Worthing on Saturday after coming on for the injured James Baker
SUPER SUB: Ben Thompson scored AFC's opener in the 2-0 FA Trophy victory over Worthing on Saturday after coming on for the injured James Baker
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AFC Sudbury go into Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Needham Market (3pm) as underdogs, in boss David Batch’s view — but he believes they can win it.

Victory in the third qualifying round match is worth £7,500 in prize money, and a place in the final qualifying round with the chance of being drawn against a Conference club.

“You very rarely get a side at your own level at this stage of the competition,” said Batch. “I feel we are the underdogs, so the pressure is not on us.

“It’s a local derby, we are level on points in the league. It’s a magnificent opportunity for us. We’re capable of winning the game.”

Batch rested his key players on Tuesday, making nine changes in all, for the home Suffolk Premier Cup tie against Felixstowe and Walton United.

“The priority was to protect people for the weekend with an important game coming up,” he said. “You don’t risk players in a game like Tuesday’s.”

James Baker, who went off early as a precaution in the FA Trophy victory over Worthing on Saturday with a tight hamstring, is expected to be fit for the Needham game.

Michael Shinn and Ross Watson, both of whom have been out for longer spells, may also be in the squad.

The teams drew 1-1 at Sudbury in the league earlier this season.

Batch described the victory over Worthing as ‘a comfortable 2-0 win,’ and AFC will now host Crawley Down Gatwick in the first round qualifying on October 19.

AFC lost the Premier Cup tie 3-2, ending their nine-match unbeaten run. “I felt we still had enough to win the game. We aim to win every game,” added Batch. “We had 17 shots in the second half, and should have scored.”

The league, which is taking a back seat at present, is Batch’s first priority, with the FA Cup and the FA Trophy next in order of importance.

If the Needham tie is not settled on Saturday, the replay will be at the MEL Group Stadium on Tuesday (7.45pm), otherwise AFC will visit Bury Town in the second round of the Ryman League Cup.

Three players have joined the club recently. Ricky Spriggs, formerly with Chelmsford, was a substitute against Worthing, and in the team on Tuesday.

Jack Cawley, at Maldon last season, has moved to AFC from Leiston, and the experienced Greg Crane has signed from Lowestoft. Both were in the team on Tuesday.