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Biggest game for Maltings Meadow

PUBLISHED: 11:53 23 May 2008 | UPDATED: 07:25 01 August 2010

THE Maltings Meadow sports ground at Ditchingham is to play host to a national soccer side tomorrow.

The feather in the cap for the Bungay and District Sports Association comes because FA Vase Wembley finalists Lowestoft Town, who were to host a match against Antigua and Barbuda at their Crown Meadow home, cannot do so because of work on the pitch.

THE Maltings Meadow sports ground at Ditchingham is to play host to a national soccer side tomorrow.

The feather in the cap for the Bungay and District Sports Association comes because FA Vase Wembley finalists Lowestoft Town, who were to host a match against Antigua and Barbuda at their Crown Meadow home, cannot do so because of work on the pitch.

And the standard of facilities available at Bungay led the club to ask to stage the game, which should attract a crowd of up to 1000, at the Maltings.

With the Trawler Boys, who narrowly missed out on lifting the FA Vase a fortnight ago, meeting one of the colourful Caribbean national sides, it is set to be the most prestigious game ever staged at the ground.

Antigua are ranked as the 127th best national side in the FIFA list, and feature three full-time professionals.

They will be travelling to Suffolk to play two friendlies, the other against Ipswich Wanderers. The matches come ahead of a crucial double-header for Antigua, in the CONCACAF qualifying section on the road to the World Cup finals in 2010.

As members of the Caribbean zone the side, managed by former player Derrick Edwards, will take on Cuba home and away next month.

With Lowestoft's Crown Meadow pitch out of action as an upgrade of facilities takes place in preparation to get the ground ready for Ryman League standards, the match will be played at the home of Bungay Town FC (ko 1pm).

The Antiguans may be more used to the sultry sunshine of the Caribbean as opposed to the biting Bungay winds,

but they are using their UK trip to prepare for the biggest matches of their lives next month.

Lowestoft Town chairman Geoff Price revealed he was delighted to be part of the international friendlies.

“It's a great opportunity to play a national team and help them in preparation for their game against Cuba, while raising some money as well.

“The players are looking forward to it and it's a nice way to finish the season after their superb efforts at Wembley.”

Tickets for the match at Maltings Meadow cost £5 for adults, £3 for concessions and £2 for children.

“We are hoping to attract a crowd of around 1,000, and if we could do that it would be fantastic,” Price said.

As a medium-sized Caribbean nation, which is made up of two islands - Antigua and Barbuda - the team's best performance was in the 1998 Caribbean Cup, where they were fourth.

Renowned for being a side that, according to manager Edwards, “takes advantage of our power and speed” they are banking on the addition of a trio of overseas professionals to bolster his squad of part-timers.

These are Trinidad and Tobago Premier League strikers Peter Byers and Gayson Gregory and veteran defender and captain George Dublin. Byers finished as the league's top scorer in 2007, with 15 goals for San Juan Jabloteh - a side managed by ex-England international Terry Fenwick.

After knocking out Bermuda in qualifying for the 2002 World Cup qualifying rounds, they eventually went out to traditional Central American powers Guatemala.

In the next cycle of qualifying, for Germany 2006, the men from the island just lost out to the Netherlands Antilles. On the way to setting up a clash with Cuba, Antigua and Barbuda beat Aruba 4-0.

If successful here, the Antiguans will progress to the semi-final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualification.

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