Cup triumph would be a miracle after sorry season

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STOWMARKET Town’s season has been little short of a disaster to date, but they could still end the season with a trophy in the cabinet.

Shane Austin’s resurgent charges host high-flying Whitton United in the quarter-finals of the First Division Knockout Cup tomorrow (3pm) on the back of two unbeaten league matches to move them off the bottom of the league.

But the Stow chief admitted it would be ‘nothing short of a miracle’ for his side to see off the promotion-chasing Greens and reach the last four of the divisional cup competition.

Speaking of the reasons behind his team’s improved form, Austin said: “We’ve finally got the squad we wanted. That’s it in terms of players leaving — everyone is here to stay and looking to move in the right direction.

“With the season we’ve had, winning a cup would be nothing short of a miracle.

“Whitton are a good side and they are flying in the league, but we will just have to give it our best shot.”

Guy Dugdale — Stow’s man of the match in their 2-0 win over Cornard United last month — is back to boost the Green and Blacks’ numbers.

While Stowmarket have had an upturn in form, Thetford Town have now failed to win any of their last three matches to slip to fourth in the Ridgeons First Division, although they have games in hand on all the sides above them in the table.

Matt Dixon opened the scoring at Team Bury on Saturday from Liam Bolton’s cross, only for Evan Key to level from the penalty spot.

The Brecklanders will be looking to keep their treble hopes alive when they host March Town United in the quarter-finals of the First Division Knockout Cup tomorrow (3pm) before welcoming Cambridge University Press (CUP) to Mundford Road on Tuesday (7.45pm).

They look set to welcome back key men Bruno Tavares, Matt Howard and Luke Bailey to their squad.

Thetford manager Mark Scott said: “It’s a welcome break from the league for us that will allow us to take the shackles off, go out and play with a bit of freedom.”

On the back of their draw with Thetford, Team Bury host CUP in the last eight of the First Division Knockout Cup tomorrow (3pm).

Boss Ross Wilding said: “The boys have a bit of a point to prove because they are not happy with their league position.

“The cup is definitely something they are looking to win.”

Mildenhall Town — whose squad is nearing full-strength with just Michael Harvey (suspended) unavailable — return to Ridgeons Premier action at Gorleston tomorrow (3pm) after leaping from 11th to seventh with their 4-2 win at FC Clacton on Saturday.

However, manager Christian Appleford was left fuming at the decision for Tuesday’s Cambs Invitation Cup quarter-final with Ely City to go straight to a penalty shootout, which Hall lost.

He said: “The referee didn’t consult me — he just said he was going straight to penalties, which is not what the rules say.

“I’m not looking for Ely to be kicked out, but Cambridgeshire FA need to make an apology. We weren’t supposed to go to penalties at that point and if I had know that I would have brought Owen Paynter on.”

n The Ridgeons Group has announced its sponsorship of the Eastern Counties League will cease at the end of the season, while league officers are set to offer their own proposal to the Football Association and keep travelling for their clubs at a similar level to what it is now.