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Downham take on higher-league Gorleston in the Norfolk Senior Cup final at Norwich City’s Carrow Road





Downham boss Dale Stokes wants his side to embrace the underdog tag as they look to conclude an excellent season with some silverware tonight.

Isthmian League North side Gorleston stand between Downham and Norfolk Senior Cup glory as the two sides lock horns at Norwich City's Carrow Road.

Stokes' Thurlow Nunn Premier Division side are huge outsiders for the showpiece after the higher-league Greens secured a tenth-place finish in their respective league this season.

The joint Downham Town management team of Craig Dickson and Dale Stokes have guided their side to two cup finals and a seventh-place finish in the league this season.
The joint Downham Town management team of Craig Dickson and Dale Stokes have guided their side to two cup finals and a seventh-place finish in the league this season.

Stokes said: "I don’t think we are feeling any pressure going into the game.

“I guess there isn’t any on us and Gorleston are favourites so we aren’t expected to win.

"There’s a lot less pressure when that’s the situation and it’s up to us to embrace the underdog tag, rise to the occasion, enjoy ourselves and see what happens."

The Downham boss would love to win the trophy as a thank-you to the club's ever-growing fan base, who have seen their side reach two cup finals this season as well as secure a seventh-place finish in the league.

“Our supporters have been brilliant for us," Stokes said.

"I don’t know the last time Downham were in a position of taking more than ten people to away games, but we’ve slowly built up a following and the players love it.

"It genuinely does make such a big difference, knowing that these people who come along to watch care about the team and the level of interest they have is appreciated by all of us.

“We’d love to win something for them.

"The club haven’t won anything for a long time. As I’ve said before we went up via the play-offs, so that doesn’t really count.

"Aside from doing it for the fans, I’d love to win something for John Fysh. I think he’s been involved with the club for something like 63 years now."

Norfolk FA’s oldest and most prestigious competition sees Gorleston looking to retain the trophy they won last season.

But Downham are hoping to secure their first Senior Cup final win since the 1960s - the same decade in which the pair last met in the final of the competition.

Although they accounted for higher-league Wroxham in the quarter-finals, the Downham boss is under no illusions about the task facing his side.

"We know Gorleston are a decent side," said Stokes.

"They’ve got quality throughout their team, certainly a few individuals we need to be wary of and it’s going to be a tough task.

"They’ve got lads that have played a lot higher and a really solid mix of youth and experience.

"We know we are underdogs and they’ll be fancying their chances of back-to-back Senior Cups, but we will give everything that we’ve got to try and cause an upset."

Downham last reached the final back in 2018 when they lost 4-2 to Norwich United, and Stokes admitted the final being staged at the home of Norwich City is a huge incentive in itself.

"I’m looking forward to experiencing it myself," he said.

"It’s one of those where for a lot of people it’s just as much about the occasion of being at Carrow Road as it is about being in a final.

"It sounds silly but I think if you remove that carrot then the competition wouldn’t be approached in the same way by a lot of clubs.

"The players can’t wait. We’ve got a few Norwich fans as well so it makes it even better for them."



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