Newmarket Town ready for Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup semi-final against Fakenham Town
Newmarket Town player-manager Michael Shinn is confident that winning the Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup this season will do wonders for levels of belief at the club going forward.
The Jockeys can take a big step towards getting their hands on the trophy for the first time since 2014 when they play host to lower-league Fakenham Town on Tuesday (7.45pm).
Since replacing long-serving manager Kevin Grainger in January 2018, Shinn has set about building a predominantly young squad at the Bloorie.com Stadium, with Tom Newman the latest to return following a stint at Step 3’s Royston Town.
And if they can overcome the hurdle of Fakenham, followed by either Long Melford or Benfleet in the final on the first bank holiday Monday of May, Shinn feels it will point to a bright future for all concerned.
“When I was manager at West Wratting we won the Cliff Bullen Trophy in the first season and that gave us the belief we could win more trophies,” he said.
“The next season they went on to win the league and while I am not saying we will definitely be challenging for the title next year, it provides that extra belief to the players, supporters and everyone at the club, which is what you need.
“As a player you might not get too many chances to play in semi-finals and cup finals, so you have to take those chances when they come.
“If you are lucky enough to win something – and we have a big opportunity to do that this year – the confidence it will give to the squad for next season and beyond could be crucial.”
While Fakenham may operate a level below Newmarket in the First Division North, no side has picked up more points in the league over the last six games than the fourth-placed Ghosts, who head to Lakenheath tomorrow night (7.45pm).
They have also already claimed one Premier Division scalp on their run to last four, knocking out Kirkley & Pakefield in the previous round on penalties.
Shinn said: “It is obviously a huge chance for us to reach a final but we will not be taking them lightly.
“They might be a league below but they are in the top four and that means they are used to winning and will have some momentum behind them.”
Midfielder Joe Bennett will miss the encounter through suspension following his red card at the weekend, while Shinn will also be without the cup-tied pairing of Max Melanson and Martyn Farrant.