Saturday Vase Fever
TOMORROW sees the last 16 of the FA Vase and once again the Eastern Counties League is heavily represented. The heady days of AFC Sudbury's Vase exploits may be behind us, but Wembley is in the sights of Needham Market, Stanway Rovers and Lowestoft Town.
TOMORROW sees the last 16 of the FA Vase and once again the Eastern Counties League is heavily represented. The heady days of AFC Sudbury's Vase exploits may be behind us, but Wembley is in the sights of Needham Market, Stanway Rovers and Lowestoft Town. MIKE BACON looks ahead to tomorrow's big clashes.
Stanway v Coventry Sphinx
THESE two teams will probably be the first to admit they have punched well above their weight to find themselves in the final 16 of the Vase.
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But make no bones about it, on their day both Sphinx, and especially Stanway, are very good footballing sides, and both will be pleased with this draw.
Stanway joint boss Rob Bate, pictured below, said: “It has been a bit of a rollercoaster season, but at times we have put on some pretty decent performances to say the least.
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“It's the old cliché about one game at a time, but that's where we are at right now.
“We always pay our opponents plenty of respect and we have had Coventry watched. It won't be easy.”
For both clubs this is a massive tie and Rovers will be hoping for plenty of good home support, especially as Colchester United are not at home tomorrow.
Not an easy one to call, but this is very much where home advantage will count.
Mike's prediction: Stanway 2 Coventry Sphinx 1.
St Ives v Needham Market
HAVING seen off three Eastern Counties (Ridgeons) League teams so far this season, St Ives will be confident of making it four out of four against Needham Market.
With Kirkley & Pakefield, Leiston and Gorleston already accounted for, the big St Ives team will not fear taking on Needham, although Danny Laws side are sure to be the toughest test yet for the Cambridgeshire side.
Needham are still involved on six trophy fronts and chairman David Bugg, pictured below, knows the importance of the Vase.
“The Vase is high on our priority list,” he said.
“It's simply got to be. You don't get a chance to play at Wembley Stadium very often and this competition offers that. But we have the St Ives game which will be tough and there are other tougher ones along the way should we win.
“We beat a good team in VCD Athletic in the last round and on paper we are probably slight favourites for this one. But you can never be sure.”
Needham are set to take a large following up the A14 to Cambridge against a United Counties Premier side who are currently ninth in their division, but have lots of games in hand.
Needham are going to bow out of a competition soon, but not this one yet.
Mike's prediction: St Ives 1 Needham 2.
Lowestoft v Dunston Federation
WE are down to the nitty-gritty stages now . . . stages where AFC Sudbury used to excel so much on their way to three FA Vase final appearances.
And Lowestoft Town face just the type of clash that Sudbury were renowned for getting through.
So can Ady Gallagher and Mick Chapman guide the Trawlermen into the last eight?
Certainly Lowestoft have, with all due respect, more pedigree and guile than either Stanway or Needham to get through. But this round has eluded them on too many occasions in the past.
“Over the years we would have hoped to have gone further, but a whole host of reasons and bad luck have not helped,” assistant manager Ady Gallagher, pictured above, right, said.
“Our league form has been disappointing so far and the Vase has offered us a bit of an escape this season.
“I don't think people realise how much of a transition we are in right now. We have lost four key players from our title-winning side of two years ago, but we are still good at Crown Meadow.
“Dunston will be tough, they are a well established, highly-respected club. But we have a good tradition as well.
“Hopefully we will get between 500-800 people there and that can make a difference.”
Mike's prediction: Lowestoft 3 Dunston 0.
Don't miss this weekend's GREEN'UN for a full match report from Mike Bacon on Stanway's clash with Coventry Sphinx.
And in Monday's EADT the full reaction from all the local ties.