EMIRATES FA CUP
EXTRA PRELIMINARY ROUND
Stowmarket Town 4
Rick Andrews says his Stowmarket Town side will not fear anyone ahead of their first game back in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division this weekend.
The Old Gold and Blacks, who were crowned First Division champions last season to earn the club its first promotion in their 134-year history, visit Felixstowe & Walton United tomorrow (3pm).
Stow head into their first campaign in the Thurlow Nunn League’s top flight for 13 years in good spirits, having brushed aside Essex Senior League outfit Barkingside 4-0 in the Emirates FA Cup extra preliminary round on Sunday.
Goals from summer signings Andrew Wood (two) and Ethan Clarke, coupled with a strike from last season’s leading marksman George Bugg, helped Stow to their first win in the famous cup competition since 2006.
It was the perfect start to the campaign for this new-look Stowmarket side, which on Sunday saw eight players make their competitive debuts for the club, including five in the starting line-up, and boss Andrews admits confidence is running high.
“We’re not going to fear anyone,” Andrews claimed. “We’ve had a great pre-season. We’ve played some teams in lower divisions and we’ve played teams in higher divisions and we’ve now kept five clean sheets in six games.
“That speaks volumes for me. The group are absolutely buzzing, everyone’s happy and everyone has played a part today. It’s a nice day for the club.
“We’ve not been in the FA Cup for six years and I think, more than anything, today the quality of the squad showed.
“Angelo Harrop, Billy Clark and Ryan Yallop were on the bench, which just shows the depth of the squad, and when we had to move people around you didn’t notice any difference. We just carried on playing and that’s huge for me.”
Stow broke the deadlock at the Cricklefield Stadium seven minutes before the break, as Wood slotted home from Ethan Clarke’s low cross on the left wing.
Bugg, who topped the scoring charts at Greens Meadow last season with 19 goals, opened his tally for the season just after the hour mark, before Ethan Clarke made it 3-0 with an excellent header from an Ollie Brown cross.
Wood then notched his second from the penalty spot three minutes from time to secure Stow’s place in the preliminary round and a clash with higher league Romford a week on Saturday.
Following tomorrow’s trip to Felixstowe, Stow travel to Gorleston on Tuesday night (7.45pm), while their scheduled home tie with Hadleigh United a week later has been reversed and will be played at the Millfield on August 22.
Stowmarket Town: Brand, Brown, A Clarke, E Clarke, Weavers, Fox, Cunningham (c), Baker (Harrop 62), Wood, Bugg (Yallop 79), Garrett (Clark 72). Subs not used: Carver, Musgrove. Referee: M Mackey. Attendance: 215. Free Press man of the match: Ethan Clarke.