Clarke bags a treble as super Stow crush Stanway
Thurlow Nunn Premier
Stanway Rovers 0
Stowmarket Town 4
A classy first-half performance helped Stowmarket Town to a third win in a row away at Stanway Rovers, writes Alex Moss.
The Old Gold and Blacks continued their recent good form with another impressive display, scoring four unanswered goals in the first half to run out comfortable 4-0 winners at the Hawthorns.
Anton Clarke scored his first hat-trick for the club, netting on the quarter and half hour marks to put Stow 2-0 up, before completing his treble on the stroke of half-time, after Josh Mayhew had bagged his 34th goal of the season moments earlier.
The win keeps Stow in third place in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division table, 19 points behind leaders Felixstowe & Walton United and five points adrift of Coggeshall Town, in second spot.
Stow manager Rick Andrews made three changes to the side which started in the 4-2 win against Felixstowe the previous weekend, as new signing Blake Saker, from Leiston, started in midfield, and Angelo Harrop returned to the starting line-up to face his former club.
Goalkeeper Craig Brand was back in goal for his first start in the first team since September 26, and he marked his return with a fifth clean sheet of the season.
Clarke opened the scoring for the Old Gold and Blacks in the 15th minute, when his free kick took a wicked deflection off of a Stanway defender and into the back of the net.
Clarke, who had only ended his near 10-month goal drought by scoring Stow’s fourth against Felixstowe last weekend, then doubled his and Stow’s account in the 30th minute, firing into the far corner beyond the dive of Andrew Plummer, in the Stanway goal.
The visitors went further ahead eight minutes later as Clarke’s cross was headed into the path of Mayhew, who drilled the ball into the corner to make it 3-0.
A minute before half-time Stow had a fourth as Dave Cowley crossed for Clarke and he headed past Plummer to wrap up his first hat trick for the Old Gold and Blacks.
Stow host Walsham-le-Willows at Greens Meadow on Boxing Day (11am).