Stowmarket Town net 15 without reply in last three league encounters
Rick Andrews believes his side are approaching a club record, after securing their fourth consecutive clean sheet in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division.
The current league leaders beat Hadleigh United 3-0 on Tuesday to continue to assert their dominance in the league, having dropped just two points – on the opening day – from the first 21 on offer.
And they have also found a rich goalscoring vein, with 15 unanswered league goals in a week – from Tuesday to Tuesday, including Saturday’s 7-0 home win over Kirkley & Pakefield; they have not conceded in the league since facing Hadleigh in the reverse leg on August 14, a 3-1 win.
But, despite the comfortable scoreline, the Brettsiders offered plenty of resistance, with the visitors having the best chance of the first half as it remained goalless until past the hour mark – with Ollie Brown breaking the deadlock – as late drama unfolded.
There was a penalty, a sin bin, a red card and two late goals as Stowmarket found space in the latter stages.
The scrappy result ‘pleased’ the Stowmarket boss ahead of what he sees as a ‘particularly difficult run of fixtures in September’, starting with Mildenhall away on Saturday (3pm).
He said: “Four or five clean sheets on the bounce and that’s got to be getting close to a club record so I’m very pleased.
“Hadleigh gave us a tough game at their place not so long ago so we knew we would have to be patient.
“They were well organised and had chances in the first half which we defended very well but needed to pick up the pace a bit in attack. Soon as we got the first, the game opened up and allowed us to play.
“It was a good result ahead of a tough one on Saturday that will kick off a particularly difficult run of fixtures in September.
“We have Mildenhall away and then Woodbridge Town, Stanway Rovers and Norwich United –and all those teams can be expected to be up there.
“Mildenhall have some ex-Stow players as well, so that will add an extra edge to it. Mildenhall lost two or three but I think they’ve now won two or three and not conceded, so they are a threat. And it will be a measure of where we are too.
“They were obviously playing the league above last season, so that’s an exciting challenge.”
He said he hopes to have Dominic Docherty and George Quantrell fit and available, having noticed their absence as they were rested on Tuesday.
Andrews said: “They have a different tempo to their game and are more hustle and bustle and we missed them, it’s something I thought we just lacked at times tonight.
“We dominated possession, but there weren’t so many chances.
“Our first touch was often taking us back the way we came and we needed to open up, but other teams aren’t as fit as us, so we should expect the first 45 to 60 minutes to be competitive.
“But what the boys must never lose sight of is that when we are moving the ball from full back to full back, the teams are getting tired and we’ve seen that time and time again this season, we are dominating the final 20 minutes. It certainly wasn’t an easy win and perhaps the score does suggest it was easier than that.”
Hadleigh’s Kieran Turner missed an open goal in the 23rd minute before Stow scored in the 61st minute, chipping Nick Punter in goal.
Jack Ainsley was shown the first yellow of the match in the 78th minute and drama soon followed with a penalty just a minute later, with Turner’s objections seeing him sent to the naughty corner for 10 minutes.
Ainsley converted before a Matt Paine tackle on Stow’s Christy Finch descended into ugly scenes, punches and scuffles breaking out before Paine was sent off and Finch yellow carded.
Brown then smacked the post in the 90th minute before Finch netted in the first minute of added time to wrap up the win.
Stowmarket: Bradbrook, Brown (c), A. Clarke, Jefford, Bullard, Ainsley, Read (Quantrell, 61'), Sweeney, Mayhew (Nunn 43’), Cowley, Finch. Attendance: 298
Free Press Man of the Match: Ollie Brown – unlucky not to get two in his pocket after clattering the post on the stroke of full-time (it may still be shaking). A constant thorn in Hadleigh’s side down the right.
More by this authorHannah Dolman