Stow mentally prepared to host league leaders

TOUGH TEST: Stow boss Rick Andrews
TOUGH TEST: Stow boss Rick Andrews
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Rick Andrews believes any mental block his Stowmarket Town side had of beating the big teams has gone, ahead of hosting runaway leaders Felixstowe & Walton United tomorrow (3pm), writes Alex Moss.

Stow produced a remarkable comeback from 2-1 down — scoring three times in the last five minutes — to win 4-2 at Brantham Athletic on Saturday and move back up to third in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division table.

And ahead of hosting table-topping Felixstowe at Greens Meadow, Stow boss Andrews says his side have what it takes to inflict what would be only the Seasiders’ second league defeat of the season.

“We’ve had some good games with Felixstowe already this season,” Andrews said.

“In the first one we were 3-1 up at their place with 20 minutes to go and they came back and beat us 4-3.

“Then we played them in the Premier Cup and over the 90 minutes I thought we deserved to win, but they dug in after they had a man sent off and defended well.

“We huffed and puffed without troubling them and maybe we could have been a bit braver.

“But after Saturday’s result, if there was a mental block there with the big teams, maybe that’s been removed, not only because we got the win, but the way we played too.”

Stow are 24 points adrift of Felixstowe heading into this weekend’s clash, while Coggeshall, in second, are five points clear of Andrews’ men with five games in hand.

Finishing in the top two may be a step too far for the Old Gold & Blacks in their first campaign back in the Premier Division since 2004/05, but a victory this weekend would certainly send a message to the chasing pack below them that they are the team to beat for third spot.

Stow have seen Billy Clark (Needham Market) and Ethan Clarke (Felixstowe) both leave the club in recent weeks, but the return of Ace Howell has been a welcome one for Andrews’ side.

The striker, who made his first start for the club in almost a year at Brantham, was the first Stow player to find the target last weekend, and he could prove to be a key player in the second half of the season.

“The boy has got all the ability in the world, everyone knows it,” Andrews enthused.

“People forget how old he is too. I think he’s still only 20, which is ridiculous. The way we set up today suited the players we had available.

“I thought Amar Lewis was outstanding, I don’t think Brantham knew how to handle him.”