ST IVES look to continue their FA Vase success of last year when they take on Stanway Rovers in the fourth round on Saturday. Last year the Ives reached the last 16 of the competition, and gained many admirers of their style of football as they were only
ST IVES look to continue their FA Vase success of last year when they take on Stanway Rovers in the fourth round on Saturday.
Last year the Ives reached the last 16 of the competition, and gained many admirers of their style of football as they were only three games away from Wembley.
They will be hoping to enter the pot for the fifth round draw on Monday, but must first overcome the Essex team.
Managers Warren Everdell and Jez Hall know that no games are easy in the competition, they both expect a crowd in excess of 500 at the game that kicks off at 3pm. Last year saw a record attendance at the Needham Market tie when 767 crammed into Westwood Road.
Hall said: "All the local school kids have been invited and every player will take to the field accompanied by a local mascot. St Ives Rangers under 13 players will be ball boys on the day."
The managers have watched Stanway a couple of times and recognise that they have a very attacking style of play. "We need to be sharp at the back but I am confident that we can get among their defenders as they seem to leak goals from time to time," said Hall.
Ives will be without leading marksman Scott Fielding who is suspended and Jason King who is injured, but otherwise they will be at full strength with both Everdell and Hall feeling they have a squad capable of winning the tie in 90 minutes.
Everdell said: "In our current run of form we should look to see Stanway off first time. The ground will be heavy after the recent frost but nothing we aren't use to and if the crowd get behind us we can be another step towards our Wembley dream."
St Neots Town are currently languishing in 15th in the UCL Premier Division, 11 places and 19 points behind rival St Ives, who beat them 2-1 in their last game at Westwood Road on December 27.
They start the second half of the campaign with a tricky away game to seventh placed Boston Town, and a win could move Marvin Johnson's men up to 11th. "They will be favourites to win the game as they are a good experienced side and at home," said Chairman John Delaney. "We go into this game as underdogs but we are confident that we can win."
The Rowley Park side have made a few new signings to add experience. Neil Smith (goalkeeper) and Ashley Richards (right back) debuted against St Ives, and Josh Sozzo (forward) and Parys Okai (fullback or midfield) have also joined the squad.
"We can definitely pick up in the second half of the season. We have a number of tough fixtures but it's so open in this league that anyone can beat anyone. We have good form against the top teams and with the exception of one or two results our matches against them have been pretty tight.
"I certainly expect a top half finish and right now we are not where we want to be. Marvin [Johnson] is targeting a top three finish within the next 18 months so I expect us to improve significantly.
"I think performance wise we have been playing well. We haven't had the rub of the green and the table doesn't lie as we have suffered from inexperience. We knew that would happen as we wanted a young side to blood them and get wool on their backs and get the heart of the team to develop. Our football has been fantastic and technically we are probably the best side in the league and so I expect a better performance in the second half of the season.
"We need more consistency and when we achieve that we'll have better results. Having a young team is an exciting prospect to see them develop and anyone in the UCL who has seen our style of play will know we play great football. Anyone that plays us knows we are capable of scoring goals and nobody will relish playing us. If we can kill games off and get some better finishing and more solid defending then we will be a better team."
Huntingdon Town currently sit at 14th in the UCL Division One, level on points with AFC Kempston Rovers below them and eight points above bottom placed Irchester United in a tightly packed table. Huntingdon host fifth place Whitworths at Jubilee Park on Saturday.
"It's a big game, they all are for us at the moment," said Town manager Martyn Ray. "We will see if we can get the New Year off to a good start. We've been a bit unlucky in a few games and we haven't been playing too badly.
"It's only half way through the season so there's all to play for and we hope to start picking up the points. I know we can win the game on Saturday without a doubt. We can match anyone on our day it just depends on how we perform."
Mark Barry has just joined Huntingdon from league leaders Peterborough Northern Star, and the centre back will provide Ray with more options.
"I want to keep within touching distance of the leading teams and a mid table finish would be nice. We'll just have to see how Saturday goes."
Eynesbury Rovers travel to Thrapston Saturday in the re-match of their last game on December 27. In that game they squandered a 2-0 lead, and scored late on for a 3-3 draw. Rovers sit fourth in the table, seven points adrift of league leaders Peterborough Northern Star, and will be looking to beat their mid table opponents.
Co manager Pat O'Keefe said: "In the last game we wasted chances, defended badly and were lucky at the end to get a point. We must tighten up and make our chances count and we will win these games.