Stowmarket Town boss Rick Andrews insists seeing their top goalscorer Matt Dixon turn down an offer from a higher level club shows how far they have come.
The Old Gold and Blacks pulled off a surprise 1-0 win away at Ely City in the quarter-finals of the Thurlow Nunn League First Division Knockout Cup at the weekend.
And after guiding Stow to their first cup semi-final in five years on Saturday, Andrews was boosted by captain Dixon’s decision this week to stay at the club, despite receiving interest from elsewhere.
“A Premier Division club approached us for him and he didn’t even listen to the deal,” said Andrews, whose side return to First Division action with a home clash against AFC Sudbury Reserves tomorrow (3pm). “He said he wasn’t interested and that shows where we’re at as a club.
“He’s fitted in really well here and hopefully with the additions we are looking to bring in he could score even more goals this season.”
A wonder strike from Dean Pleasance gave Andrews’ men a 10th minute lead against their promotion-chasing opponents on Saturday.
And despite James Graham being shown a second yellow card to leave Stow with 10 men for the final minutes, they held on to set up a semi-final clash with Halstead Town at Greens Meadow on Tuesday, March 8.
The hosts first came close to a breakthrough when Matty Simpson’s marauding run down the right gave him space to cross for Sam Goodge, whose header was clawed away by Stowmarket goalkeeper Dan Joyce.
The AFC Sudbury loanee would go on to make several more important saves during the contest, but before then it was Stow’s turn to score the opening goal. And they did so in style when Pleasance curled a shot into the top corner from around 25 yards out.
Joyce was brought into action again on 21 minutes to push away Simpson’s shot at goal, before Josh Sewell was well-placed when his header went sailing over the crossbar.
Ely continued to push for an equaliser after the break, as Goodge spurned two inviting chances inside the opening 10 minutes of the second-half.
The hosts thought they had broken Stow’s resistance in the 65th minute following a scramble from a corner, but the visiting defence managed to clear the ball away.
The teenager sprang into action again on 83 minutes to stop substitute James Tricks’ shot with his legs.
Graham then received his marching orders as the quarter-final entered added time, but Stow held on to book their place in the last four.
n Elsewhere, Thetford Town and Walsham-le-Willows remain in the Premier Division relegation zone, while Mildenhall Town are up to eighth in the table.
After losing 2-0 to Felixstowe and Walton United, Walsham are still searching for their first win of 2016 when they host FC Clacton tomorrow (3pm), while Thetford were beaten 5-0 by Stanway Rovers on Saturday and are without a game this weekend.
A first-half header from David Lampshire was enough to see Mildenhall advance through to the semi-finals of the Thurlow Nunn League Cup at the expense of Long Melford on Wednesday.
n In the Kershaw Premier League, Lakenheath marked their first home game of 2016 with a 3-1 win over Sawston United, courtesy of goals from Luke Catchpole, Shane Leech and Aaron Turner.