Royal and Mills do battle in Woods Cup final

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UNION Mills kick off what could be a memorable Easter weekend when they face Douglas Royal in the final of the GH Corlett Woods Cup at the Bowl tonight (Thursday) at 7pm.

Because of the Millers involvement in the Easter Monday Cu-Plas FA Cup final against St George’s, the battle for the Woods Cup has been switched from the traditional Good Friday day to Thursday evening.

Playing two finals in the space of four days is a big ask for any team, but the Garey Mooar side also go head-to-head with Onchan next Thursday in what could be a pivotal match in the race for promotion and possibly even the destination of the JCK Division Two title, so it all adds up to a momentous week.

With the Millers second in the league, they will be favourites to win the trophy but their opponents Douglas Royal will certainly make life difficult for them and have some pedigree in the annual second division cup competition - the Ballafletcher outfit have won the competition twice in the last three seasons, having been in the Premier League during the 2010-11 campaign.

The two sides have met once in the league this season when Mills got the better of Royal 3-0 at Garey Mooar in September thanks to a brace from Chris Kelly and one from silver boot contender AJ Suckling.

Royal manager Nicky Smith finally has full-strength to chose from after a season of unavailability and injuries so has a number of options to consider for the final.

The defence will have to be up to the task against the free-scoring Mills players so big performances, particularly from the long-serving duo of Kevin Ballard and Craig Dolman, could be crucial to the outcome of the game.

Greg Hoskisson and Aaron Quinn will provide the energy and experience from the midfield while Gavin Gawne, top scorer Paul Whitley and Andrew Lancaster will be the ones trying to unlock the Mills back line come Thursday evening.

The Millers also have a full squad available for the match but the starting XI could well be influenced by the impending match with Grand Slam hopefulls St George’s.

Christian Cellamare is expected to don the goalkeeping gloves as per usual, despite nursing an injury, but sub goalie Danny Christian is available if needed. Karl Dobbin will once again skipper the side while Kenny Magee and Kyle Uren, who both played for the combination side at the weekend, are included in the first team squad.

The only casualty is Lee Christian who misses out through injury but Chris Kelly, Ste Quine, Matty Cain and AJ Suckling are all expected to provide the creative spark and finishing prowess for the Millers.

Form would suggest a win for Union Mills but Royal are in the final on merit, having impressively dumped out favourites and league leaders Marown via a penalty shoot-out in the semi-finals, so don’t be surprised to see them push the Millers all the way in what should be an intriguing match at the Bowl.

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