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Lakenheath manager confident his side will provide sterner test for Mildenhall Town during this weekend's FA Vase tie

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For the second season in a row neighbours Mildenhall Town and Lakenheath will lock horns in the Buildbase FA Vase.

Saturday’s first round proper match-up at Recreation Way (3pm) comes almost a year after Mildenhall recorded a relatively routine 3-1 victory at the home of their opponents.

Lakenheath were a Thurlow Nunn League First Division North side then, but this weekend it is an all-Step 5 affair after promotion to the Premier Division was confirmed in the summer.

Lakenheath manager Ben Cowling
Lakenheath manager Ben Cowling

And Lakenheath boss Ben Cowling is confident his side are much better equipped going into the latest meeting.

He said: “Last year they beat us pretty comfortably. We pulled a goal back with about half an hour left, but when you’re three down against a side like that you’re not coming back.

“Before the game I remember saying it was one that would show where we were. We had ambitions of getting promoted, being at their level and to be honest we got put in our place.

Mildenhall's Charlie Hitch and Lakenheath's Kelvin Enaro battle it out during last season's Vase clash. Picture: Mecha Morton
Mildenhall's Charlie Hitch and Lakenheath's Kelvin Enaro battle it out during last season's Vase clash. Picture: Mecha Morton

“We had a busy summer in terms of recruitment and that match played a part in doing that.

“But we deserve to be in the Premier Division now. Aside from the first half against Wroxham and away at Woodbridge, we’ve been pretty good.

“It’s a different unit now and we may have only five or six starting on Saturday that played the last time we faced them.

“We’ve shown what we’re about in the wins at the likes of Ely and Newmarket, now it’s about finding that consistency.

“Maybe this isn’t the draw we wanted, but it gives us another chance to show what we can do against a top side and top players.”

Lakenheath will be travelling to take on a team that has kept five clean sheets in a row following Saturday’s 0-0 home draw with Whitton United.

Such form makes the challenge that little bit tougher, yet Cowling feels there is enough quality within the Lakenheath ranks to cause problems.

“They’re a unit that has been together a little while now and we make no bones about the task in front of us,” said the boss, who saw his side lose 2-1 to Kirkley & Pakefield at The Pit at the weekend.

“But we’ve got some individuals capable of producing some magic. Nobody expected us to score six at Newmarket a few weeks ago, but we did and that’s what we’re capable of doing.

“They haven’t conceded in around a month, but it comes down to what happens on the day.

“We know we’re the underdogs, but we go there knowing we’re capable of getting a good result.”

From a Mildenhall perspective, the weekend’s goalless draw with Whitton ended a sequence of four straight wins.

Nevertheless, manager Ricky Cornish was pleased with another shut-out – and had particularly praise for goalkeeper Josh Pope, who returned to the club from Soham Town Rangers in the summer.

“We’ve been organised, there is a real togetherness and a willingness to keep the ball out of our net,” he said.

“We defend well, starting with the front lads, but Popey has been magnificent.

“I said when we signed him that he is the best ‘keeper at Step 4 and 5 and I haven’t changed my mind on that.

“He’s done everything we’ve asked of him and he’s a big character in our squad.”

After hosting Lakenheath, fifth-placed Mildenhall will make the short trip down the A11 on Tuesday evening to take on Thetford Town (7.45pm).

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