STOWMARKET Town manager Rick Andrews has conceded that the Suffolk Premier Cup represents the club’s last realistic chance of winning any silverware this season.
At the turn of the year, Stowmarket were well-placed in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division, still involved in the FA Vase and through to two cup quarter-finals.
They are now all but out of the title race, lost 1-0 to Biggleswade in the fourth round proper of the FA Vase and exited the Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup 3-1 at the hands of Long Melford last Wednesday.
Stowmarket entertain Brantham Athletic in the last eight of this season’s Suffolk Premier Cup at Greens Meadow on Tuesday evening, kick-off 7.45pm.
The Old Gold & Blacks have already beaten Step 4 sides Mildenhall Town (4-1, away) and AFC Sudbury (3-1, home) to reach this stage of the competition.
Stowmarket sit fifth in the table – three places and four points better off than Brantham, with whom they played out a goalless draw just over a fortnight ago.
Andrews said: “We know each other, so from that aspect it is more difficult because we are something of an unknown quantity to the higher-ranked teams.
“There are teams from two divisions higher left in the competition, so we will be seen as one of the weaker teams, but we are in the quarter-finals and hopefully we can put in a performance and keep our season alive.
“The semi-final is then a one-off game at a neutral venue and anything can happen and it would be great to get to the final.
“If you look at our fan base and how it is growing, we would be extremely well supported if we were to get to the final at Portman Road.”
Andrews accepts that coping with levels of expectation goes hand-in-hand with being a successful side.
He said: “If you want to be successful you have to learn to cope with playing in big matches and finals at any level. The likes of Manchester United and Manchester City have to deal with that, and if we want to be in cup finals, enjoy good runs in the FA Vase and be top of the table you are going you are going to be a team that other teams want to beat.
“I would rather be in that position than looking over my shoulder trying to stay up, so we are embracing that and I think we are getting there.”
Long-term injury victims Josh Mayhew, last season’s leading scorer in the Thurlow Nunn League, Ollie Canfer and Luke Read all got valuable minutes under the belts in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Woodbridge Town.
However, while they are all likely to be involved versus Brantham, Jack Baker is ruled out after picking up a hamstring injury.
Hadleigh United, buoyed by four straight wins in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division, travel to Bostik League North Felixstowe & Walton United in Tuesday evening's other quarter-final tie.
The Seasiders, who play a step higher than their visitors, will be favourites to reach the last four, but will be wary of Hadleigh's recent upturn in fortunes.
Suffolk Premier Cup Quarter-Finals: Felixstowe & Walton Utd v Hadleigh Utd (7.45pm), Stowmarket Town v Brantham Athletic (7.45pm).
Suffolk Premier Cup Quarter-Final: Leiston v Lowestoft Town (7.45pm).