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Lakenheath continue to make club history with progression through to third round of the FA Vase

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Manager Ben Cowling believes Lakenheath’s record run in the Buildbase FA Vase is further evidence of the progress that is being made at the club.

Saturday’s 3-0 win (Tom Thulborn 2, Sam Peters) at an experienced lower-league Norwich CBS outfit sent Cowling’s side through to the third round of the national competition for the first time in the club’s history.

And having found CBS to be tricky customers in seasons gone by, the manager was delighted to have overcome that hurdle in relatively routine fashion.

Ben Cowling's Lakenheath are through to the third round of the FA Vase
Ben Cowling's Lakenheath are through to the third round of the FA Vase

“It’s been a brilliant run. It’s nice for the players and everyone associated with the club,” said Cowling. “It’s created a real buzz around the place – everyone is delighted.

“On Saturday 3-0 probably flattered them in all honesty. It could have been four or five-nil at half-time, but we got the all-important third goal just after half-time and that sealed it.

“It shows the improvement because we’ve gone away to them in the last couple of seasons when we were in the same league and not beaten them.”

Lakenheath’s reward for that victory is a home tie against another Step 6 club – Shefford Town & Campton, who travel to The Pit on December 11.

The Bedfordshire-based side started the new Spartan South Midlands Football League Division One campaign poorly, but they have now racked up 10 wins from 11 outings and have already beaten a couple of higher-league sides in the Vase.

Cowling said: “The one thing I love about the Vase is the chance to play sides from outside your league – that’s what it’s all about.

“So far we’ve played three Eastern Counties sides so it’s nice to be playing someone different.

“They’ve improved somewhat and it looks like their position in mid-table is down to a bad start. They were also top of the league last year when Covid hit, so they’re clearly a good side.

“We’ll get people out to watch them and hopefully be able to get hold of some video footage as well.

“I’m glad to be at home and hopefully the people in the village will come out to support us.

“It’s one of those draws where we’ll see it as a good chance to reach the last 32 of a national competition, and they’ll probably be feeling exactly the same about it.”

Before that, 12th-placed Lakenheath return to Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division duty on Saturday at leaders Gorleston (3pm).

The Greens exited the Vase to lower-league opposition last weekend, but have tasted defeat just once in the league this term.

“These are the sort of games why we wanted to get promoted,” said Cowling. “You want to test yourself as a player and I want to do that as a manager as well.

“It was a close game at our place (2-1 defeat). We got level, switched off and they nicked the winner.

“We’ll have a bit of freedom going into it because they’re top, but we’ve drawn at Norwich United and won at Mildenhall this season.

“The potential is there for us to get a good result, we’ve just got to take our chances when they come.”