Stowmarket still have plenty to play for despite cup defeat
Tom Parke insists there is still plenty left to play for at Stowmarket Town this season, despite bowing out of the Buildbase FA Vase at the weekend.
The Old Gold and Blacks were edged out 1-0 at Biggleswade in the fourth round of the national competition on Sunday, after Pat McCafferty’s 87th-minute header denied Stow from progressing to the last 16 for the first time.
But with two cup quarter-finals, in the Suffolk Premier Cup and Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup, to come next month, as well as a Premier Division campaign which sees them sit in third place, first-team coach Parke believes the season is far from over.
“It was a heart-breaking way to go out,” said Parke, who faces his former club Wroxham at Greens Meadow tomorrow (3pm).
“I thought it was going to extra-time, but I think we were just a victim of our own injuries and we just didn’t have the strength in depth.
“We’re still thin on the ground, with people suspended and injured in the squad, but we’ve got to muck in and everyone’s got to dig deep.
“We’ve still got a lot to play for. This league isn’t over and we’ve got two important cup competitions we’re still in.”
Stow trail Premier Division leaders Godmanchester Rovers by one point, and are level on points with second-placed Histon, but both of the top two sides have several games in hand on Rick Andrews’ men.
Saturday’s opponents Wroxham sit in seventh place, but in a congested top end of the table are only four points behind table-toppers Goddy.
Parke, who joined Stow in January last year after leaving Wroxham, says it is likely his players will still be hurting from Sunday’s Vase defeat, but expects them to respond positively.
“We’re hurt from Sunday,” he said. “The players won’t have any emotion towards Wroxham, but what I do expect is that we remember they didn’t beat Wroxham last season.
“And, unfortunately, whoever’s in the way next is going to get the wrath from that.”
Stow were boosted last Sunday by the return of leading goalscorer Ollie Canfer from injury, and last season’s top goalscorer Josh Mayhew and midfielder Luke Read are closing in on returns too.
Read has been out of action since late October, while Mayhew, who scored 56 goals in his debut campaign at Greens Meadow last season, has been on the sidelines since mid November.
“Josh is not far away,” Parke said. “We could see him before the end of the month, possibly through substitute appearances and Luke Read will be a similar time frame.
“They were an integral part of what we done last season and will continue to be an integral part going forward. It will be like having two massive signings.”