Monday, May 7, 2012
Norwich United’s long-serving chairman John Hilditch is hoping that a 20-year wait for a cup can be ended this afternoon.
Hilditch, who suffered the disappointment of 2006 and 2010 Norfolk Senior Cup final defeats at Carrow Road, is hoping that the the 2011-12 season has a silver lining in the form of the Ridgeons League Cup.
The Planters meet Essex outfit Stanway Rovers at Brewer’s Green Lane, Diss, in the final this afternoon (3pm).
An addition to the trophy cabinet would be the ideal way to mark this August’s 21st anniversary of the club’s move to their purpose-built Plantation Park, Blofield complex.
“It would be nice. We’ve knocked out the holders Wisbech and beaten the league leaders away so we certainly haven’t had an easy route into the final,” commented Hilditch.
Norwich United manager Paul Chick is also savouring the prospect of long overdue silverware success.
During Chick’s first spell at the the helm in 1992 United won the Eastern Counties League Cup, beating Gorleston 5-2 in a replay at Diss after the first game, held at Carrow Road to mark the competition’s 50th anniversary, ended 2-2.
Chick, and trusty right-hand man Donny Pye guided the Planters to sixth place last season. However attempts to improve on that this term have been hit by the loss of key players who have moved up the ladder to join Ryman League clubs, and the retirement of the experienced midfielder Justin Fox. But a rebuilding exercise featuring an influx of youth has produced healthy signs and saw the team finish eighth this term.
A 2-0 league cup semi-final win over Wroxham at Trafford Park, courtesy of two goals from the speedy former Yachtsman Thomas Mustapha, may have come as a surprise to some, but not to Chick.
“In the two games we played them earlier this season we lost 1-0, once to a last-minute goal.”
He added: “To go into their back garden in the semi-final of a cup and get a result was very pleasing and I thought our young players showed great discipline and determination. We were under pressure for long periods but that’s what you would expect.”
Meetings between United and their Colchester-based opponents, who won the League Cup in 2009, and finished fourth in the league this season, suggest today’s encounter should be a tight one. United lost 2-1 at home in August but won 1-0 away in March. Since that defeat Stanway have only lost once in their final 10 games – 3-1 at home to title race runners-up Ely. To reach the final they beat Dereham 3-1 away, after victories over Felixstowe, Brightlingsea and Godmanchester. United beat Walsham-le Willows on penalties, Wisbech, Clacton and Wroxham.