STOWMARKET Town go into the battle of the bottom two knowing a victory over Ipswich Wanderers at Greens Meadow tomorrow (3pm) would lift them off the foot of the Ridgeons League First Division.
Shane Austin’s charges crashed to a 2-1 defeat at Downham Town on Saturday, but he commended his team’s spirit following Chris Gray’s free-kick at the start of the second half.
“We’ve still got a good team spirit and it showed on Saturday with 10 men battling,” said Austin. “Hopefully with 11 men on the pitch this week we can win the game.”
Stow missed the chance to rise as many as three places in the lower echelons of the First Division table with Saturday’s loss to Downham, which was dogged by late controversy.
An injury-time handball was not seen by the assistant referee, denying Stow the chance to level late on from the spot having faollen from 1-0 up to 2-1 behind.
“It was very controversial,” said Austin. “We were down to 10 men so it was always going to be an uphill battle.
“I was proud of the boys because they did really well and should have had a penalty.”
The Gold and Blacks departed West Norfolk still searching for their first away point of the season.
Carl Pearson made his debut in goal and the ex-Haughley keeper made two smart saves to keep the scores level before Wayne Proctor made up for profligacy in front of goal from Stow to head in Yani Duka’s cross.
The lead lasted until 12 minutes into the second period with the visitors paying the price for needlessly losing possession in midfield as Matthew Calvert blasted in an equaliser.
In a frantic spell, Ross Myhill had the opportunity to restore the advantage, but instead Downham broke to the other end with Luke Plumb’s low drive putting the home side ahead.
Worse was to follow with Stow reduced to 10 men, Gray receiving a straight red card.
A reorganised Stow needed substitute Ben Atkinson’s last-ditch goal-saving tackle as the platform to mount sustained late pressure.
Both Ross Myhill and Dean Pleasance had chances before an injury-time handball was waved away by the assistant amid furious penalty appeals.
Still Stow pressed and Downham keeper Lee Brooks pulled off two great saves to deny James Graham and ultimately Stow a share of the points.