Stowmarket Town boss Rick Andrews reacts to FA Vase defeat with message that promotion has always been the main goal
Wembley would have been a very nice bonus, but this season has always been about winning the league.
That was the defiant message from Stowmarket Town manager Rick Andrews after watching his side bow out of the Buildbase FA Vase to fellow Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division Wroxham on Saturday.
The Old Gold & Blacks had already made club history by reaching the fifth round of the national competition, and many expected them to go all the way to the final at the home of English football.
As it transpired, the hosting Yachtsman had other ideas at Trafford Park, but for Andrews and his squad, ensuring that Step 4 football will be played at Greens Meadow next term remains the club’s ultimate goal.
Stowmarket showed no ill effects from their Vase exit on Tuesday evening with a 2-1 home win over FC Clacton – a result that extended their lead at the summit to 17 points.
And by chance, tomorrow presents Andrews’ men with a rapid opportunity to right some of the wrongs from last weekend when they head back to fifth-placed Wroxham (3pm) in the league.
“If you said to me at the start of the season you can have one thing, it would have been the league,” said Andrews.
“The Vase is a bit more historic and you probably get talked about for longer if you win that, but the club needs to go up.
“When we put together the squad that we have, going up was always the number one aim.
“It was always going to be tough to win the league, the Vase, and we are also in two other cups – it is a lot to ask.
“Games are coming thick and fast and you cannot get too high or too low. We are back at Wroxham and we will be very keen to turn this result around.
“If we can do that – and we are more than capable – I think it will go a long way to us winning the league.
“If we do go on to win it, we will celebrate that and the loss to Wroxham will be a distant memory.”
In front of 206 hardy souls on a bitterly cold Tuesday evening, Stowmarket continued their unbeaten start to the season (21 wins and four draws) with an odd goal in three victory over Clacton.
The Seasiders from the Essex coast are one of the four sides to have taken points off Stowmarket this term, with the two sides playing out a 2-2 draw on the opening day of the campaign.
This time around it took Stowmarket just four minutes to break the deadlock through centre-back Tom Bullard, who reacted quickest after a corner from Dean Bowditch had been cleared off the line.
Eleventh-placed Clacton then called home goalkeeper James Bradbrook into action on a couple of occasions to keep out Kyelan Marvell and Harry McDonald.
And those saves looked all the more crucial when Stowmarket doubled their advantage in the 28th minute.
Captain Ollie Brown sent in a cross from the right flanks that was cleared as far as Anton Clarke and he drilled in the rebound.
Strikers Matt Blake and Josh Mayhew both went close to scoring a third before the break, while in the second half the latter saw a goal chalked off for a push in the build.
Clacton halved the deficit in the 63rd minute when former AFC Sudbury winger Jordan Blackwell kept his cool to wrong Bradbrook from the penalty spot.
The away side then pushed hard for an equaliser but were ultimately kept out, while up the other end Brown struck the crossbar.
After travelling back to Wroxham, Stowmarket will also be on the road on Tuesday when they head to Swaffham Town in the League Challenge Cup quarter-finals (7.45pm).
More by this authorLiam Apicella