Draw took my breath away - Aldis

DEBENHAM Leisure Centre, who were still playing junior football in the First Division of the Metaltec SIL three years ago, have been handed a dream FA Cup second qualifying round draw.

By Elvin King

DEBENHAM Leisure Centre, who were still playing junior football in the First Division of the Metaltec SIL three years ago, have been handed a dream FA Cup second qualifying round draw.

They will entertain AFC Wimbledon from the Ryman League Premier Division on Saturday, September 29 - with the visitors regularly taking over 1,000 supporters to away games.

“It took my breath away when I was told the draw,” said Debenham manager Mel Aldis.

“We will have a meeting on Thursday and discuss how best to stage the game.

“We will talk to Haverhill, who staged a match against Aldershot last season, and also Steve Clark from the FA Competitions department and Martin Head, secretary of Suffolk FA.”

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Aldis is currently on one of his regular coaching sessions in the south of France, where he takes charge of youngsters from top French clubs Nice and Monaco.

“I was going to go on to the beach after the morning session, but heard the draw and decided to have a few drinks instead,” added Aldis, who led Earl Soham Victoria to win the Carlsberg Pub Cup at Wembley Stadium in 2000.

“We won't get to Wembley in the FA Cup but we relish the Wimbledon game and will give it our best shot.

“It will be our cup final in this competition.

“Winning 2-0 at Holbeach in the previous round on Saturday gave me one of my biggest football thrills.

“We took 120 supporters and it was a great performance by Debenham both on and off the field.”

This Saturday, Debenham play in a competition where they can realistically enjoy a long run - the FA Vase - with a home match against fellow Ridgeons League First Division Long Melford.

Aldis returns to England tomorrow after having pals Nigel French and Ali Foster for company on his four-day trip to France.

Needham Market will be looking to make home advantage count in their FA Cup replay against Unibond Northern League Grantham Town at Bloomfields tonight (kick-off 7.45pm).

Victory will see Danny Laws' side pocket £2,250 and reach the second qualifying round for the first time with a visit to Blue Square North Hinckley on Saturday week, a side that has yet to win a league match this season.

Laws, who will select from an unchanged squad tonight, was pleased with his side's display on Saturday.

He said: “I'm very proud of my players who did enough against higher league opposition. This will give them plenty of confidence for the replay.”

Needham chairman David Bugg added his praises saying: “Our support at Grantham was truly outstanding and our players responded well.

“Our gates are improving but it would be nice to pull in a few more supporters as the quality of football we are playing deserves that.”

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