FA Cup draw reunites Stowmarket Town with their former manager
Friendships will be put to one side when Stowmarket Town make the trip to AFC Sudbury for an all-Suffolk Emirates FA Cup tie tomorrow afternoon (3pm).
The hosting Yellows are jointly managed by Rick Andrews, who stepped down as Stowmarket boss last December after seven years and more than 300 games at the helm.
Andrews enjoyed plenty of success – particularly in the latter stages of his stint – at Greens Meadow, much of which he shared with his assistant Paul Musgrove, who subsequently replaced him in the hotseat.
The pair remain good friends, but all of the focus will be on their respective sides when they battle it out for a place in the third qualifying round at the MEL Group Stadium.
Musgrove said: “Rick and I obviously worked closely together and we were thick as thieves back then.
“But we’ll both have to put that to one side on Saturday because winning is all that matters.
“I’ve got a huge respect for Rick, both as a person and as a manager, and we still get on really well.
“Obviously there has to be that little bit of distance footballing-wise now, but I’m sure we’ll have a good catch up after the game.”
The Old Gold & Blacks will be up against a side likely to be smarting from having suffered their first defeat of the season at the hands of Dereham Town on Tuesday evening.
And with that in mind – as well as having home advantage – Musgrove feels the hosts, who are co-managed by former Stowmarket midfielder Angelo Harrop, are favourites.
“I’ve said it before, but these are the sort of games we’ve wanted for a long time,” he added.
“We want to be playing the best sides in Suffolk and Sudbury have been one of those for a long time.
“We’ll be up against a young and hungry side that like to get the ball down and play.
“They’ve had a good start and will be looking to bounce back. They’re at home, it’s on their 4G pitch so you’d probably make them favourites, but we’ll look to cause them problems.”
Stowmarket got some useful preparation for the artificial playing surface in midweek when running out 2-1 winners on the recently-installed 4G pitch at Heybridge Swifts’ Scraley Road ground.
Robbie Sweeney and Ollie Brown were on target for Musgrove’s men, who played out a 1-1 draw (Josh Mayhew) at Brentwood Town on Saturday.
“We were a little bit disappointed on Saturday because we should have got three points there,” said Musgrove.
“It was better at Heybridge and that’s a tough place to go. Their league position doesn’t do them justice and they’ll soon start picking up points, especially at home on that new pitch.
“In terms of preparations for the weekend it was ideal. You have to look at a lot of things on a pitch like that, and sometimes change the way you play because it’s free flowing and the surface is true.”
A win for Stowmarket would see them advance into the third qualifying round for just the second time in their history – something they will have to achieve without Dom Docherty (injured) and Emmanuel Osei (cup tied).