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Player-manager Chris Casement on guiding Stowmarket Town to a first Suffolk Premier Cup final in 26 years





It has been a season which has carried with it some uncertainty but for Stowmarket Town it will finish with an appearance in the final of Suffolk’s leading cup competition.

Since making their return to the Endeavour Automotive Suffolk Premier Cup in 2017, the Old Gold & Blacks have enjoyed several deep runs, making the semi-finals in 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2021/22.

A final at Colchester United was taken away last term when, after beating higher-league Leiston 3-0 in the semi-finals, the club had fielded two ineligible players and withdrew from the competition.

Stowmarket Town players celebrate reaching the Suffolk Premier Cup final Picture: Mecha Morton
Stowmarket Town players celebrate reaching the Suffolk Premier Cup final Picture: Mecha Morton

Stow’s first foray into this season’s Premier Cup was not until February, in the early weeks of player-manager Chris Casement’s reign in charge.

Off the pitch the club had seen boss Paul Musgrove resign in January, followed by a raft of player departures, as long-time donor Tom Morley also took a step back.

While on the pitch, Stow found themselves once again back in the final four of the Premier Cup after recording wins against Lakenheath (3-0) and AFC Sudbury (3-1).

In Tuesday’s semi-final, second-half goals from Ed Upson, Josh Curry and Jack Ainsley helped Stow to a 3-0 win against league rivals Bury Town at Needham Market’s Bloomfields.

It set up a first-ever Premier Cup final between Stowmarket and the holders Needham (at Bury Town on Friday, April 28), while for the Old Gold & Blacks it will be a first appearance in the decider of Suffolk’s biggest cup in 26 years.

Chris Casement has guided Stowmarket Town to a first Suffolk Premier Cup final since 1997 Picture: Mecha Morton
Chris Casement has guided Stowmarket Town to a first Suffolk Premier Cup final since 1997 Picture: Mecha Morton

“It hasn’t been plain sailing this season, certainly for me personally,” Casement said.

“I’ve learnt a lot in the last two or three months and I’ll take plenty of positives out of it. It’s good now we can finish the season with a cup final.

“Goodness knows what’s going to happen next season, but this is first and foremost the work of Tom Morley who has supported us the last four or five years.

“It’s for the volunteers around the club, the fans, there are so many people.

“I haven’t been here as long as Jack Ainsley, JJ (Joe Jefford), Tom Bullard or Bradders (James Bradbrook) and people like that.

“It’s nice to be in the final and we want to compete and to win hopefully and give those guys behind the scenes and the fans some good memories for going forward.

“I thought the whole team was terrific tonight, especially after the stuff that’s gone on this season.

“The players conducted themselves immensely. I’m very proud of them and it was great to get the win.

“I think in the first half it was a pretty even game. They had bits and we had bits.

“The first goal was always going to be important for either side and thank God we got it!”

Ed Upson opened the scoring for Stowmarket Town Picture: Mecha Morton
Ed Upson opened the scoring for Stowmarket Town Picture: Mecha Morton

Ahead of Tuesday’s semi-final, a run of five straight defeats, the latest a 3-1 reverse away at New Salamis on Saturday, had ended Stow’s hopes of finishing in the Pitching In Isthmian League North Division play-offs.

Kieran Morley had opened the scoring inside the first 10 minutes, before the hosts responded with three goals after the interval.

Stow host Bury at Greens Meadow on the final day of the North Division season tomorrow (3pm).