Extra fitness will make difference says Town star Darren

PUBLISHED: 10:40 18 February 2009 | UPDATED: 16:05 10 September 2010

Michael Bailey

Captain Darren Cockrill believes Lowestoft Town have the fitness to eclipse last season's FA Vase final appearance at Wembley. The Blues' thrilling 4-3 extra-time win against Hungerford Town on Saturday booked their place in the last eight of the competition, with Western League Premier Division Bideford next to visit Crown Meadow in less than a fortnight's time.

Michael Bailey

Captain Darren Cockrill believes Lowestoft Town have the fitness to eclipse last season's FA Vase final appearance at Wembley.

The Blues' thrilling 4-3 extra-time win against Hungerford Town on Saturday booked their place in the last eight of the competition, with Western League Premier Division Bideford next to visit Crown Meadow in less than a fortnight's time.

Two red cards did not help Hungerford's cause at the weekend, before Russell Stock's late hat-trick sealed victory for Lowestoft, but the Trawler Boys have made a habit of scoring late this season - and it is no fluke.

"Ever since Craig Fleming and Dave Carolan have come in, they've worked extremely hard on organisation and fitness, and it's no coincidence that we're winning games late on," said Cockrill of the former Norwich City duo, who have helped turn a squad of players from Ridgeons League Premier Division also-rans to being nine points clear at the top.

"The players believe in each other, they believe in their own fitness, and we're taking things to sides - and they just can't cope with it.

"You can't ask for nothing else. The quarter-finals, at home, we haven't lost here all season. Everyone's confidence will be sky high come that Saturday, but I think everyone will return their focus now to the league and trying to extend our lead at the top."

Lowestoft put on a stunning run to reach their first ever Wembley final last May, where they led for the majority of the match until two late Kirkham & Wesham goals made Town pay for their heavy legs.

And while there has been little mention of last year's Vase run to date during the current campaign, as the business end of the competition approaches Cockrill admitted his team-mates do harbour a desire to make a return to the home of English football and achieve what they missed out on in May by a matter of minutes.

"I think so, I think deep down in some of the players, yes there is that, especially the ones like myself who are coming to the end of their careers," said Cockrill. "But there is no reason why the young lads can't do it year in, year out. It's such a good set-up and such a good squad, it's just a great place to place football at the moment."

Cockrill was delighted to get on the scoresheet at the weekend, scoring Lowestoft's opener after the home side found themselves 2-0 down after only 10 minutes.

"It was a nice goal to get," said Cockrill. "It was on of those ones where it just flashes across the area and I'm in the right place at the right time.

"But it gives us something to cling to, it gives us hope, and once these players get that little bit in between their teeth, there's no stopping us.

"It was 120 minutes of thrill-seeking stuff but I think once we had control of the game, there was only going to be one winner."

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