Reaction, report and pictures: Stowmarket Town enter uncharted territory with club history-making win in latest round of the FA Vase
Stowmarket Town manager Rick Andrews admitted he has always had one eye on this season’s FA Vase competition as he said the last 16 is the point it ‘gets exciting’.
The Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division leaders have been drawn away to divisional rivals Wroxham in the fifth round, due to be played on February 8, in their first ever foray beyond the last 32 stage.
The side made club history on Saturday as they made light work of their fourth round clash, with a 3-0 home win over Southern Counties East League Premier Division side Glebe.
The bookmakers’ favourites demonstrated their quality with a determined and level-headed performance against the well-organised visitors.
In front of a competitive fixture attendance record of 510 spectators, goals from Luke Read, Matt Blake and Christy Finch sparked a party atmosphere at Greens Meadow as the home fans had plenty to cheer about.
Andrews said: “I’m very chuffed and very proud. And we’re now just three rounds from Wembley so it’s getting exciting.
“The group knows the importance of this competition to the club, they knew they were a game away from creating history and that’s something that can never be taken away from them now.
“They will always be a part of the first time the club have been in the last 16. So I knew what they would bring. When we put the squad together, an eye was on the Vase.
“We know what we’re capable of in the league and we said to the boys, if your work rate and determination – your application – is there, then your talent will shine through.
“And, if we’d taken our chances, the game would have been out of sight in the first-half; it wasn’t and they applied pressure, which you’d expect, so I’m extremely happy.”
Stowmarket started the stronger, with Matt Blake and Josh Mayhew combining well up front while midfielder Luke Read put quality ball after quality ball into the area.
Tom Bullard and Mayhew had early half-chances before Stow’s goalscoring account was opened by Read after just 18 minutes.
A Dean Bowditch free kick into the box reached Read, with his first shot blocked but falling fortuitously back to him for a second chance, which he took, for a 1-0 lead. Matt Blake missed a couple of opportunities late on in the half as Stow went in with a narrow 1-0 lead at the break.
The first 15 minutes of the second-half were dominated by Glebe, who looked hungry for an equaliser, while Stow looked nervous and at risk of conceding.
But it was Blake who finally found reward for his efforts in the 70th minute, as he rounded the Glebe keeper before putting the ball into the back of the net on the counter.
Glebe fought on, and Bradbrook was needed on a few more occasions, before the home side had the last word, with substitute Christy Finch firing in his side’s third in the 88th minute, from a Robbie Sweeney assist.
Andrews said: “It was a hard game, but that’s what you expect at the last 32. I knew they were going to be hard work and technically they were very good. And I thought they gave us a great game, so I’m chuffed.”
Stowmarket: Bradbrook, Brown (c), Dunbar, Ainsley, Bullard, Jefford, Read, Bowditch (Sweeney 73’), Blake (Finch 76’), Mayhew, Dochert. Attendance: 510
Free Press Man of the Match: Luke Read – He stood out in the first half with a playmaker’s performance as he set the team’s fast tempo and opened the scoring.
* The result saw Stowmarket crowned Iliffe Media East Team of the Weekend in our Twitter poll.
Return to the Thurlow Nunn League
Meanwhile, Stowmarket Town will return to league action on Saturday still buzzing from their FA Vase club history performance last weekend but cautious of remaining focused.
The Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division leaders will host 18th-placed Ely City tomorrow (3pm), with manager Rick Andrews fully aware of the threat the relegation-threatened side will pose.
He said: “Ely have new management and they always give a tough game anyway.
“This league is a bit unforgiving too, we went to Haverhill and they thoroughly deserved their point, so that was a reminder that we have to be on it every week.
“But we do have fresh legs so we will be looking to make some changes. We had a big squad last year and probably had our worst injury crisis ever, so we’ve had a little bit of luck but we’ve also managed the squad better.
“The boys are doing me proud, doing the club proud, doing the town proud and long may it continue.”