Players up for semi final test

ROYALS REVIEWTO score in the last minute of the game at Haverhill obviously felt like a point gained at the time, bit on reflection we had five or six good chances opposed to their two - so in total fairness it was a case of a couple of points lost.


TO score in the last minute of the game at Haverhill obviously felt like a point gained at the time, bit on reflection we had five or six good chances opposed to their two - so in total fairness it was a case of a couple of points lost.

The game itself was a physical encounter on a difficult pitch, which did not help us. But we kept going right to the end of the game as our fitness got us through in the end as we definitely got what we deserved on the day.

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At the very least we deserved a point so when Russell Stock got on the end of a really good delivery from Andy Key's corner in the 90th minute we were pleased.

There were mixed emotions in the dressing room in that we were pleased to get a point from the position we were in, but we realised we could have done better and got the win as well.

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The ten days break did not help us and before the game on Tuesday (at Dereham) we told the lads we had to be far more ruthless in the penalty area and take the chances that came our way.

Obviously Hendo (Chris Henderson) did this in some style at Aldiss Park. It was strange in that he didn't have his best game on Saturday and we told him that before Tuesday's match as we'd identified their right hand side as a key area for them - so he needed to do a bit more defensively as well.

Chris responded with the quality display we've come to know from him. When he came in at half time with a hat trick, as well as having a goal disallowed, we told him he'd not put a foot wrong defensively while also being devastating up front.

It was a really fine individual performance, but all-round it was a great display and a really good showing. We were solid all over the pitch, strong in midfield and devastating on the break.

We'd been to Dereham the last two or three seasons and not done so well, so to win and win so convincingly with four goals and a clean sheet sets us up really well for tomorrow.

To be honest, we did have one eye on next Wednesday night and we were going to make a few changes and rest one or two tomorrow, but that is likely to change now. From our point of view, and having played at Harwich in the past, it is sad times as they are a very good club.

But without doing too much we've moved up into fourth place and that is the hand that's been dealt to us and the other sides. We want to finish as high up the league as we can and there is still a long way to go this season with a lot of teams still to play each other - so there could be one or two twists and turns as yet.

We move forward therefore and now have to face a tough Felixstowe side, who we drew with 1-1 earlier in the season.

They've strengthened since then in signing five or six new players, including keeper Liam Jones from Needham Market and the lad Ainsley who was formerly at Ipswich's academy - so they are good acquisitions and we know we're in for a tough game tomorrow, make no mistake about that.

But also we know we're in good form and we're looking far more solid and a real threat. Lewis Blois is not available tomorrow, but will be back for Wednesday's semi final, Ian Dawson will come into contention tomorrow after being away at university in midweek. Scott Martin had to come off injured on Tuesday after he took a hefty challenge so he is a doubt for tomorrow, but apart from that everyone else is fit and available.

When Jon and I took the job on at the start of the season we said we wanted to bring some success to the club and we have an ideal chance of that with a home draw in the cup next Wednesday.

There is a big challenge ahead for everyone to get to a May final, which would be great for the team and great for the whole club. But we won't underestimate Newmarket. We know we've beaten them in the Vase and league already this season but that counts for nothing as it is another cup game, which is all about what happens on the day.

We want to get to a final as it is progression for the club - but it will be all about who can handle it next Wednesday. It will be great for some of the young lads to be able to taste being part of a team that makes a final and it is our jobs to make sure we are in the final come next Thursday as no one remembers sides that go out at the semi final stage!

Stewart Larter was speaking to Mark Boggis

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