Diss Town preparing to return to action in the Norfolk Senior Cup against Bradenham Wanderers
The circumstances are from ideal, but Diss Town are ready to resume their 2020/21 Norfolk Senior Cup campaign.
The Tangerines, who have not played since the 4-3 defeat to Sheringham on December 12, will play host to lower-league Bradenham Wanderers in the second round of the competition tonight (7.45pm).
However, due to government guidelines, no supporters will be able to attend the Brewers Green Lane fixture, while those involved will have to adhere to a large number of different restrictions.
It’s football but not as people will know it, yet Diss boss Michael King feels that on balance it was right to come back.
“In a way I would have been happy to return in the summer when things are hopefully close to being back to normal and then go from there,” he said.
“But the reason for coming back was justified last week when the lads saw each other again at training after so long, there was a real excitement.
“I just felt like if the competition got the go ahead and the players found out we had decided not to play – when they are all keen to do it – it sends out a poor message.
“There is a real buzz around the place and the lads are looking forward to playing.”
With the likes of Norwich United, Wroxham and Dereham Town all in the tournament, the Senior Cup is traditionally tough to win.
Diss have won it on four occasions, but the most recent of those came back in 2005 – the last time they reached the final.
But with all of the sides having been sidelined for a number of months due to the pandemic, King believes that it could be more of an even playing field this time around.
“You’ve got to be honest and say with sides like Norwich, Wroxham and Dereham – and Gorleston with the signings they’ve been making – you look at them as the favourites,” he added.
“But we’ve all been in the same situation with the lockdown; there’s been no training or matches for anyone.
“It could be a leveller and while that could help us, it’s also something we will need to guard against against Bradenham.
“In normal times most people would probably expect us to beat Bradenham, but this is a strange time.
“I wouldn’t be shocked to see a surprise or two at the weekend – hopefully it doesn’t involve us.”
It has been a previously unimaginable first campaign in charge of the club for King, who took over last July when the vast majority of the 2019/20 squad had headed for the exit door.
He got a competitive squad together at the 11th hour but only oversaw 12 Thurlow Nunn League First Division North games before a second successive season was scrapped.
The most recent lockdown has provided a chance for some reflection, with King potentially implementing some alterations going forward.
“We’ve used the last three months to look at everything – right back to our first day at the club,” he said.
“It was a tough situation, we needed to get players in and not just any players, they had to be of the right standard.
“We’ve looked at what we’ve produced on the pitch since then, our points tally, how we’ve played, what we’ve done well and what we haven’t done so well.
“I’ve made mistakes as a manager and we have as a management team as well. You’re always going to be learning as a manager.
“There has been a lot of time talking things through on the phone about how and what we want to change.
“There was a certain style of play that work well at Waveney (previous club), but just because it’s worked before doesn’t mean it will work again.
“We’ll look to implement some different methods and tweak a few things. The plan is also to use this cup run – however long it lasts – and the training sessions to gear up for next season. Hopefully that will give us a little headstart.”