MATCH REPORT: Stowmarket Town win 3-0 to progress to last 16 of FA Vase for first time including VIDEO interview with goalscorer Matt Blake
Stowmarket Town have booked their place in the last 16 of this season's FA Vase with a 3-0 win at home to Glebe FC.
It is the first time the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division leaders have made it into the hat for the fifth round, but are already the bookmakers' favourite to win the trophy.
And they showed why, with a determined and level-headed performance against a well-organised Southern Counties East League Premier Division side.
In front of a competitive fixture attendance record of 510 spectators, goals from Luke Read, Matt Blake and Christy Finch just added to the atmosphere at Green Meadow as the home fans enjoyed the occasion with plenty to smile about.
Stowmarket Town started the stronger, with Matt Blake and Josh Mayhew combining well up front while midfielder Luke Read put quality ball after quality ball into the area.
Tom Bullard and Mayhew had early half-chances before Stow's goalscoring account was opened by Read after just 18 minutes.
A Dean Bowditch free kick into the box reached Read, with his first shot blocked but falling fortuitously back to him for a second chance, which he took, for a 1-0 lead.
There were chances for Glebe, a side that played well and they will be disappointed not to get on the scoreboard with their efforts, with James Bradbrook making more than a handful of key stops to record a clean sheet.
The first of these came in the 23rd minute, with Bradbrook first parrying a Ridwan Ajala shot before needing to deal with Vance Bola's effort.
A minute later and he again get the visitors out with a tricky corner almost curling straight in, but for Bradbrook's intervention.
A wonderful through pass from Read to Blake on the half hour mark led to a golden chance for the forward, but his shot was saved.
Glebe's Jamie Philpott headed wide and hit it over before a rare error from Pat Ohman in the Glebe goal; he made a bit of a hash of his clearance but was fortunate to escape punishment with the ball getting caught under the Stowmarket players' feet in the box.
He quickly redeemed himself with a full stretch save to tip Blake's shot out for a corner in the 42nd minute; as the striker was disappointed not to net one of a number of chances falling his way in the final five minutes of the half.
It was an entertaining half of football, narrowly edged by the side who went in a goal ahead.
The first 15 minutes of the second-half were dominated by Glebe, who looked hungry for an equaliser, while Stow looked nervous and at risk of conceding.
Some nimble footwork by Ajala led to chances for Philpott which, had any been converted, could have changed the game drastically.
Instead, chances went begging until Blake finally found reward for his efforts in the 70th minute, as he rounded the keeper before putting the ball into the back of the net on the counter. The goal, against the grain of the second half, provided a goal cushion for Stow to banish their nerves.
Glebe fought on, and Bradbrook was needed on a few more occasions, including tipping Ajala's 79th minute free kick away, before getting up quickly to make a second save.
But Stow had the last word, with substitute Christy Finch firing in his side's third score in the 88th minute, from a Robbie Sweeney assist to leave few in doubt who would be progressing.
Stow held on for the clean sheet and a place in the next round.
* The draw for the fifth round is due to be made on Monday, keep an eye on the Bury Free Press website for news of Stowmarket's opponents – and if it will be at home or away.
* Reaction from boss Rick Andrews plus a look ahead to next Saturday's return to the league in this week's print edition
More by this authorHannah Dolman
This website and its associated newspaper are members of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO)