ESSEX SENIOR LEAGUE: Rival bosses Rob Small and Colin Cook have said the Essex Senior Cup tie between Bowers & Pitsea and Basildon United “couldn’t have come at a worse time”.

The first-round clash between the rivals comes only three days before Bowers FA Cup preliminary round tie against Colney Heath and Bees trip to Aveley, worth almost £2,000 to the winners.

And Bowers coach Small said he had no choice but to prioritise the FA Cup because of the financial incentive, but said tonight’s game at Basildon was still one he was determined to win.

“The game has come at a terrible time for us and Basildon and it couldn’t have been a worse draw either as we don’t want to lose this one,” said Small. “The FA Cup will have to take priority, but I am lucky as I have about 17 players I could pick for the first-team so whoever comes in against Basildon will be ready.”

Bowers strikers Rob Whitnell and Lewis Manor are doubts for tonight’s game at the TLM Stadium.

Bees manager Cook has echoed Small’s words, with Saturday’s clash at Aveley his main focus.

“The FA Cup has pitted us up against a very good side, but it is a game we can win if play at a high level. We have four or five players doubtful at the moment and I won’t risk them against Bowers.”

Cook coached Small when he was in charge at Bowers & Pitsea four years ago and said he hopes his former charge hasn’t picked up too many tips from him.

“Smallsy is a fantastic bloke so to see him doing well is great. I hope he didn’t learn much from me though, otherwise he might use it against me!”

l Elsewhere Hullbridge Sports travel to Ilford in the Essex Senior League. Sports dropped to 12th in the division after throwing away the lead twice at the weekend as they lost 3-2 to Newham FC.

Ilford are unbeaten and currently sit in 4th.