Wick showdown: Little Stoke braced for big Les James Cup final bout with AEK Boco
LITTLE Stoke manager Ash Coles says excitement and anticipation levels are rising as they approach their big cup final day with AEK Boco, writes Simon Parkinson.
The teams enter combat for a Les James Cup spectacle, which this year takes place at Wick’s Oldbury Lane facility this Sunday, April 28 at 2.30pm.
It is the first time since their admittance to the Step 7 league in 2016 that Little Stoke have unearthed a route into the final of the Marcliff Gloucestershire County League’s annual knock-out competition.
And Coles is determined to ensure it is an occasion to savour, however events unfold on the afternoon.
He enthused: “Everyone’s buzzing; the players, supporters, management and committee. We’re all looking forward to it immensely in only our third season in the County League.
“We feel we have a chance of making it a successful one too although Boco will no doubt feel the same way.
“We know it won’t be easy. Boco will be bang up for it without a doubt, so we’ll have to work extremely hard for each other over the full 90 minutes.
“Only last weekend they beat us 1-0 in a close league match at their place so we know this will not be the sort of game to be carrying any passengers.
“Of course we as a club enjoyed plenty of successes during our years in the Suburban League, including a league and cup double a few years back which was an amazing feeling.
“Little Stoke have never been in a cup final at this level, though, and it’s great that we have made it there.
“Beating Stonehouse (2-1) in the semi-finals was fantastic but were we to win on Sunday, I’m sure it would be an even better buzz.”
Coles has been satisfied enough with his team’s form over recent weeks which has lifted them to a commendable eighth in the standings.
The Stoke supremo wasn’t so enamoured by his side’s recent showing in falling prey 2-0 to Gala Wilton visitors who gave themselves an unexpected chance of maintaining their place in the league on the strength of it.
“We were poor although Gala came down to us all guns blazing knowing they would need to fight for everything to try and stay in the league,” Coles said.
“We did miss a few chances, one inside the first 50 seconds, but both their goals, including the first from a penalty after only a minute, were down to our mistakes.
“It reminded me of our early-season difficulties when we’d be punished for anything we didn’t get right.
“Fair play to Gala, though; they fought for everything and got what they needed.”