LAKENHEATH FC have a ‘wonderful opportunity’ to continue their Buildbase FA Vase adventure.
The club, who are Suffolk’s sole remaining side in this season’s competition, have reached the Fourth Round Proper following Saturday’s last-gasp 3-2 victory over Shefford Town & Campton.
Shaun Avis scored a 92nd minute winner to complete his hat-trick, after the Bedfordshire side had fought back to draw level in the second half from being 2-0 at the interval.
Lakenheath will now travel to Rugby Town, who play in the Uhisport United Counties League, after they won 5-4 on penalties following a 2-2 draw at Stourport Swifts.
It is only Lakenheath’s third season in the competition and manager Ben Cowling said: “For the last four or five years we have been striving towards having days like Saturday. It was a proper cup-tie.
“There were 131 paying customers but it seemed like there were around 200 inside the ground and the supporters of both sides helped to create a great atmosphere.
“The game swung as we almost threw it away after being 2-0 up but having seen the winning goal again it was a great first touch from Shaun Avis which enabled him to take the shot.”
Suffolk FA Honorary Life Vice President Allan Girot (second right) is pictured above at the official opening of the stand with Lakenheath FC officials (left to right) treasurer Chris Phillipson, vice-chair Steve Peasey and chair Kevin Fincham. Main photograph: Shaun Avis (green shirt, partially obscured) is pictured forcing home his second goal from close range.
Cowling was not too disappointed that Lakenheath have been drawn away to Rugby Town in the Fourth Round Proper, to be played on Saturday, January 15th 2022, when the club will be competing for a place in the last 16 of this season's competition.
“We have won more games at home in the FA Vase on a Saturday than we have in the league, whereas we have had some good results on our travels,” said Cowling.
“It would have been lovely to be back at The Nest in the next round and re-create the atmosphere we had on Saturday, but it is always nice to go to new grounds and play new teams.
“They are a proper football club who historically have played at a higher level and have the budget and ambition to play at a higher level again.”
Cowling continued: “We have already spoken to Dean Greygoose (the ex-Mildenhall Town manager) at Godmanchester Rovers as they play in the same league and I will go and watch them on Saturday.
“We will try to watch them a couple of times before we play them but I have already Googled them and it is a wonderful opportunity for us to go and play at a ground with a 6,000 capacity with 800 seats.”
Saturday’s tie also marked the opening of a new stand on the opposite side of the ground to the clubhouse at The Nest.
Suffolk FA Honorary Life Vice President Allan Girot officially opened the stand, which is sponsored by Julian Edwards, owner of the Pancake and Waffle Shack at Barton Mills.
The stand cost £28,132 and was made possible by a £19,692 grant from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, which is funded by the Premier League, through the Football Foundation.
A further £6,400 had been set aside from a parish council grant of £9,000 given to the club pre-Covid, with the remainder coming from club funds.
Work on the stand, which has capacity for 120 standing spectators, started at the end of September and took around ten weeks to complete.
The club now also have a continuous hard-standing all the way round the ground, with this having been extended from the dug-outs on the far side back round to the main stand.
The new Pancake and Waffle Shack Stand at The Nest which was officially opened before last Saturday's Buildbase FA Vase Third Round Proper tie at home to Shefford Town & Campton.