Unlucky Stow fight on

SITTING near the upper echelons of Eastern Counties 1, you would think there is little reason to feel sorry for Stowmarket.

But the side who has lost just twice all season have seen their seven-point lead at the top dwindle, largely through no fault of their own.

The club has twice been hit by withdrawals in the league - once when Fakenham pulled out and again when Haverhill were forced to withdraw earlier this month.

So from sitting pretty at the top and contemplating next season in the London leagues, Stowmarket are once again fighting for the one automatic promotion spot with West Norfolk and Cantabrigian.

The players could be forgiven for moaning about the situation and struggling to lift themselves against unfortunate circumstances elsewhere. But not a bit of it, according to 1st XV senior coach Gavin Hogg.

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“It has been a strange season and through no fault of our own,” Hogg admitted. “Since Christmas, we have stayed around the 50-point mark as every time we build up a gap, it seems to get closed because a side has pulled out.

“But we are not moaning and I am sure these things will balance out. When I took over this role, we aimed to get promotion within two years - at the end of this season - and we are ready to achieve that goal.”

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After finishing second last season, Stowmarket missed out on promotion to London 3 North East after an agonising play-off defeat to Essex-based Bancroft.

But Hogg believes the bitter experience can work in the club’s favour this time around, adding: “We were a young side last year and maybe missing out was a blessing in disguise. We are now ready for promotion, on and off the pitch, and we would welcome the challenge.”

Despite the setbacks, Stowmarket moved to second in the league with a win over Cantabrigians on Saturday leaving a likely winner-takes-all encounter with West Norfolk next month.

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