Match Preview: Norwich United (A)
Stowmarket Town head on the road for the first time in 2020-21 with a trip to Norwich United in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division tonight.
It has been more than six months since Rick Andrews’ men have been on their travels for a competitive fixture, with Stow’s last away tie the 4-2 win at Newmarket Town back in February.
The Old Gold and Blacks made a pleasing start to the new season last week, picking up two wins at Greens Meadow, starting off with a 2-1 win against Rothwell Corinthians in the Emirates FA Cup.
And a Christy Finch goal was enough to earn all the points against Gorleston in Stow’s league opener this past weekend.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of tonight’s trip to Plantation Park…
Norwich United v Stowmarket Town / Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division / Plantation Park / Tuesday 8th September 2020 / 7.45pm kick-off
Setting the scene: The top two sides from the curtailed Premier Division table last season collide at Plantation Park tonight. Before the season was cut short, Stow held a 15-point lead over second-placed Norwich, who had a game in hand and were due to still visit Greens Meadow during the final stretch of the campaign. Both sides kicked off their new league season with narrow victories on Saturday, and will be keen to build on that tonight.
What’s the team news? It has been a juggling act for manager Rick Andrews in these early days of the new season. The boss will be boosted by having newly-appointed captain Tom Bullard and Anton Clarke both available tonight, after the pair served the last two games of their bans last week. However, Christy Finch, Saturday’s match winner, fractured his ribs in the win against Gorleston and is likely to be out for six to eight weeks. Craig Parker and Robbie Sweeney are also doubts for tonight through injury, and Luke Read’s suspension for being sent off against Rothwell begins with this evening’s game.
How are Norwich doing? It has been a busy off season at Plantation Park, with manager Cedric Anselin stepping down in June due to personal reasons. Steve Eastaugh has returned to the hot seat, with his first spell from 2016 to 2018 including a ninth-placed finish in their debut season at Step 4 in 2016-17. Norwich were beaten 2-1 at Haverhill Rovers in the FA Cup last Tuesday, but bounced back with a 4-3 win at Long Melford in their league season opener at the weekend.
Replacing the firepower? A big talking point among Norwich fans heading into this new campaign is how would they replace the goals of Liam Jackson, Ben Fowkes and Finlay Barnes, who all left for pastures new during the off season. Jackson (33), Fowkes (26) and Barnes (16) bagged an impressive 75 goals between them during 2019-20, but all left the club, with Jackson and Barnes both heading for Leiston and Fowkes departing for Needham Market. Manager Eastaugh has looked to Natty Stewart and Matt Doyle to take up the mantle, and told the Eastern Daily Press: “Natty Stewart has hit the ground running – he scored seven in pre-season and is already up and running in the league. We’re confident we can replace the goals that we lost.”
What happened last time we met? The two sides only met once in 2019-20, back in September last year at Plantation Park. The day was best remembered for the Stow debut of Matt Blake, who came off the bench and scored and set another goal up against his former club in a 3-0 win for the Old Gold and Blacks. Josh Mayhew and Joe Jefford also found the target as Stow won the top-two clash and moved eight points clear at the top of the Premier Division table.
One to watch: Former King’s Lynn Town striker Natty Stewart has hit the ground running since returning to Norwich in the summer. The young frontman made his mark during his first spell at the club with a man of the match display in their Norfolk Senior Cup final victory over Downham Town at Carrow Road, when he scored a free kick in added time. Stewart was on target at the weekend in their 4-3 win at Long Melford, scoring to make it 3-3, before Andy Eastaugh grabbed the winner in the final 15 minutes.
Full programme tonight? After three of the 10 opening weekend ties were postponed due to Coronavirus concerns, there is a full 10-game line up of fixtures for tonight in the Premier Division.
Tuesday 8th September
Ely City v Thetford Town
FC Clacton v Brantham Athletic
Gorleston v Walsham-le-Willows
Haverhill Rovers v Godmanchester Rovers
Kirkley & Pakefield v Woodbridge Town
Newmarket Town v Mildenhall Town
Norwich United v Stowmarket Town
Stanway Rovers v Long Melford
Swaffham Town v Wroxham
Whitton United v Hadleigh United
All games kick-off at 7.45pm
Coming to the game tonight?