Stow look to inflict home defeat on injury-hit Stanway
- Credit: Archant
Stowmarket Town can take another giant stride towards achieving their ultimate goal, of promotion to Step Four, when they travel to Stanway Rovers this afternoon.
Rick Andrews' men have taken the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division by the scruff of the neck this season, opening up a gap of 15 points over their closest rivals, following 15 wins and three draws in their first 18 fixtures.
Wroxham are currently installed in second spot, with today's hosts Stanway back in fifth place. Rovers are a distant 19 points behind Stow, although they do have five games in hand.
That's why today's game is such an intriguing affair. A win for Stanway would at least keep them in the promotion frame, but any other result would be another huge fillip for their Suffolk visitors.
In fact, with Stow also going great guns in the FA Vase - they have been drawn at home to Glebe in the last 32, after thumping Stansted 4-0 last weekend - everything points towards an exciting second half of the campaign at Greens Meadow.
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Stow boss Andrews was at The Hawthorns on Tuesday night, to watch Rovers crash out of the FA Vase, well beaten (4-0) by Woodbridge Town in a one-sided third round replay.
"Injuries played a big part in that fixture. Stanway were missing several important players," explained Andrews.
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"But fair play to Woodbridge, they thoroughly deserved to win.
"I don't think that many, if any, of Stanway's injured players will be back this weekend, with the likes of Curtis Haynes-Brown, Jamie Shaw, Jordan Blackwell and Danny Cunningham all out, I believe.
"I also think that Jack Baker is struggling a little, so I don't envisage Stanway being any stronger on Saturday.
"However, they are one of our closest rivals and it will be a tough test. It was a very tight game at our place (2-1 home win, in September).
"We dominated the first half, but they then scored early in the second half and they put us under pressure. We managed to see it out in the end," added Andrews.
Injury-wise, Stowmarket have virtually a clean bill of health.
Andrews confirmed: "Joe Jefford took a knock the other day, but otherwise there are only a few niggles in the camp."
With regards the impact made by recent acquisition, Dean Bowditch, the former Ipswich Town and MK Dons attacker, Andrews said: "Dean has settled in really well.
"He's a great guy, off the pitch as well as on it. He's mixed in with the others really well."
Rovers have lost just twice in the league to date, at Stowmarket and also at home to Whitton United by a 2-0 margin in August.