Cup final appearance would be ‘icing on the cake’ for Stanway boss Steve Pitt

REACHING the final of the Ridgeons League Cup in his first season in charge would be the “icing on the cake” for Stanway Rovers boss Steve Pitt.

Stanway travel to Norfolk today to face Dereham Town in the semi-finals, with Norwich United waiting to face the winners in the final.

Pitt, who left FC Clacton in the summer to take over at The Hawthorns, has guided his side to seventh place in the Premier Division – just two points behind this afternoon’s fifth-placed opponents but with a game in hand.

He said: “In reality this is one of the biggest games the club has had for a long, long time and it is one we are all looking forward to.

“Apart from the FA Vase it is the only winnable cup competition for sides at our level. We are not going to win the FA Cup or the Essex Senior Cup, so after the Vase it is the premier cup competition for us, and making the final would be the icing on the cake in my first season at Stanway.

“I would think by virtue of Dereham having home advantage we will be slight underdogs, but that doesn’t worry me or faze my players. It is a nice set-up there and it is a decent pitch.

“From my point of view it doesn’t matter that we are away from home – we have players who like to get the ball down and play, so the pitch should suit us.”

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Stanway, who won the cup in 2008/09, defeating Leiston 5-4 on penalties following a 2-2 draw, enter this afternoon’s tie on the back of three consecutive league victories.

Left winger Ben Newson has scored eight of their nine goals in those three games to take his total to more than 20 for the season, and increase the chances of him following twin brother Sam, who plays for Ryman League Needham Market, in stepping up the non-league ladder.

Pitt said: “That is a great return; he does consider himself to be more of a forward-oriented player and I believe the system we play suits him as a player. Players like Ben are expressing themselves and are part of the success we are having.

“If we can finish this season well that creates the right mind-set going forward, but I would not deny Ben, or anyone else, the opportunity to move up if the opportunity arises.”

Stanway have doubts over two players – Lee Townrow, who has had a groin injury, and Danny Slatter, who has had a problem with his glutes as well as illness.

“They have not trained all week, so will probably both have fitness tests before the game. They are both big players for us.”

Pitt, who set his side a top-six finish at the start of the season, said: “Sadly, winning the league is a bridge too far for us this season, although as a club we are not ready for promotion anyway.

“We are well-placed to finish in the top six – winning any silverware will be a bonus.”