Tonight the Sapphire Engineering Newcastle Diamonds travel to Suffolk for the first leg of this season’s League Cup Final at the Ipswich Witches’ Foxhall Heath Stadium with a 7.30pm start.
It’s Newcastle’s first chance to get their hands on some major silverware this season and success will perpetuate a fine run in recent years of taking a top trophy.
Plus Diamonds are still in with a chance of the Premier League title itself.
The second leg is at the Newcastle Stadium (Brough Park) on Sunday September 29
The ideal for Diamonds tonight is to make sure the Witches don’t build up a big lead ahead of that second leg, and preferably take a win if at all possible in order to make the return fixture an easier prospect.
Team manager George English said: “We have had a good run of late of meeting Ipswich in late-season trophies and we know we can do a good job.
“However, we are also very aware this is a strong and tough side as you don’t finish in second place in the Premier League table for nothing.
“Recently we’ve been reaping the benefits of having a solid scoring reserve in Lewis Kerr backed up magnificently by his skipper Richie Worrall.
“But to get this prestigious trophy in our cabinet , all our lads will have to be firing on all cylinders as Ipswich boast Ben Barker, one of the League’s very best, leading their charge and experienced veteran Brit Leigh Lanham to lead his side well.
“So while we can do this, we dare not treat this match as a normal meeting – we have to be on top form from the off to contain the Witches.”
The Witches lost the League Cup Final to Somerset last season by just five points – so they are aiming to go one better this year and lift the trophy.
Ipswich team manager Pete Simmons said: “I have told my team that they must make sure they take a healthy lead to Brough Park in two weeks time for the second leg, as the Northern side are very difficult to beat on their own track.”
So with both team managers respecting each other intensely and both injecting a feeling of urgency to get big score on both sides, the action is sure to be hot and heavy in both legs – starting tonight – in the quest for a major trophy.
IPSWICH WITCHES: Ben Barker, Cameron Heeps, Rohan Tungate, Leigh Lanham, Morten Risager, Adam Ellis, Ritchie Hawkins
NEWCASTLE DIAMONDS: Richie Worrall (captain), Stuart Robson - Rider replacement, Andrew Tully, Ludvig Lindgren, Anton Rosen, Chris Schramm, Lewis Kerr