Norwich United hoping for a silver lining in Ridgeons League cup final

Norwich United manager Paul Chick is savouring the prospect of of a first major cup final win for 20 years and is making a top six league finish as well as silverware success his goal.

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.

And he would love nothing more than to repeat the success against the winners of Saturday’s Dereham v Stanway tie who will be their opponents in the May 7 final at the Brewers Green Lane scene of the Planters’ last cup final success two decades ago.

“It keeps our season bubbling along and it gives our young players something to look forward to at the end of the season.

“If we can get ourselves a top six spot I and, hopefully the chairman too will see that, as progress.”

Chick, and trusty right-hand man Donny Pye guided the Planters to sixth place last season after a run of only three defeats in the last 17 games delivered their highest finish for many seasons.

However attempts to improve on that this term were hit by the loss of three 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 signs that the team is beginning to gel again. 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.

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“In the two games we played them earlier this season we lost 1-0, once to a last-minute goal. And the two teams have the best defensive records in the division so it was not a surprise that it was a tight game. But make no mistake, Wroxham are still a top-drawer side and that’s why they are top of the league.

“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.”

United’s long-serving chairman John Hilditch is hoping that the long wait for a cup can be ended this season after suffering the disappointment of 2006 and 2010 Norfolk Senior Cup final defeats at Carrow Road.

“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,” he commented.

An addition to the trophy cabinet would be the ideal way to mark this August’s 21st anniverary of the club’s move to their purpose-built Plantation Park, Blofield complex.

Meanwhile Hilditch admitted the club is sitting on the fence over the FA’s controversial Step Five proposal which, if adopted, will see a new Eastern League including Midlands-based clubs from 2013-14, significantly adding to costs and travelling times for Norfolk teams. “I think we are sitting on the fence waiting to see what happens,” said Hilditch.

He added: “In these times of austerity it seems rather strange to put clubs through the mill.

“Some clubs can’t really afford to be in the Ridgeons League Premier Division as it is.”