‘Dramatic’ last-gasp goal sends Stowmarket Town through in FA Vase
Matt Blake believes his last-gasp winner at Colney Heath on Saturday could be the start of a long run in this season’s Buildbase FA Vase for Stowmarket Town, writes Alex Moss.
The Stow striker, who joined the Old Gold & Blacks after leaving Leiston in September, struck in the 93rd minute of his side’s second-round tie in Hertfordshire at the weekend.
Rick Andrews’ side had been reduced to 10 men early in the second half following Dave Cowley’s straight red card, but Blake’s late intervention sent Stow through to the last 64 and a home tie with Essex Senior League outfit Stansted on November 30.
“It was dramatic wasn’t it?” Blake joked. “It was a tough game. The weather played havoc. The rain really started to come down just after half-time and the pitch turned into a shepherd’s pie!
“I missed a chance early doors which I should have put away. But the conditions were tough. JJ (Joe Jefford) has headed it down from the corner and I don’t know if it’s going on target or not, so to score and do a (Jurgen) Klinsmann dive in front of all the fans who have travelled and paid their money, it’s class.
“We’ve won the game and we move on to the next round. We were the better team and I think the better team won with 10 men.
“The main thing is we’re in the hat for the next round, and I’ve been telling the lads I don’t think there’s any better teams than us at this level.
“It doesn’t matter who we come up against, it’s down to us. I don’t see teams picking us off. I really feel with the team Rick has put together here that it’s down to us. If we turn up and perform week in, week out we’ll win.
“If we don’t perform, and it was similar to the Swaffham game (1-1 draw), and we don’t put our chances away then we’ll fall short.”
After beating Kirkley & Pakefield 3-0 the previous weekend to stretch their lead at the top of the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division to 13 points, Stow turned their attention to the Vase on Saturday, a competition which provides the prize of a final at Wembley.
Backed by a large away following for their first foray into this season’s Vase, Stow got off to a quick start and twice came close to an early breakthrough inside the opening five minutes.
Blake fired wide with his first sight at goal, while Cowley also went off target with a shot after Josh Mayhew’s header fell to him.
Hosts Colney, who had started their Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division campaign with nine straight wins, before losing their 100 per cent record in a 1-0 defeat at Oxhey Jets during the week, then took the initiative.
Jon Clements saw his header come back off the post on 21 minutes, while at the other end Stow captain Ollie Brown’s cross was headed by Mayhew into the hands of Colney goalkeeper Connor Samson on the half-hour mark.
Blake was then denied by Samson as the two sides went in level at the break. Stow once again came out of the blocks quickly at the restart, with Mayhew’s header, from Anton Clarke’s cross, kept out, and then Blake headed wide from Brown’s delivery early in the second half.
Stow’s early momentum following the interval was dealt a blow on 56 minutes, as Cowley was shown a red card for a sliding tackle on Colney’s Brett O’Connor. It left the visitors, who had themselves played against 10 men twice after two Colney players received 10-minute sin bins, a man down for the rest of the second half. With the prospect of extra-time, and another 30 minutes to play with 10 men, Stow struck the winner deep into added time. Seb Dunbar’s corner was headed towards goal by Joe Jefford and fell to Blake, with his back to goal, to guide the ball home.
Stow host Haverhill Rovers in the Premier Division tomorrow (3pm) and then entertain Leiston Reserves in the League Challenge Cup on Tuesday (7.45pm).
* After stuttering in the First Division North of late, Lakenheath continued their negative run of form with a 5-1 defeat at holders Crane Sports in the CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup on Saturday.
Ben Cowling’s third-placed side will aim to arrest their slump at home against Cornard United on Saturday (3pm), followed by the visit of Halstead Town in the First Division Knockout Cup on Wednesday (7.45pm).