AFC Telford boss Gavin Cowan wants to make more FA Cup memories

Gavin Cowan has enjoyed some thrilling cup memories with AFC Telford United.

Telford's Jon Adams, right, celebrates with team mates after he scored Telford's 1st goal against Southend in the FA Cup. (Andy Cunningham)
Telford's Jon Adams, right, celebrates with team mates after he scored Telford's 1st goal against Southend in the FA Cup. (Andy Cunningham)

The Bucks boss needs no second invitation to recall FA Cup ties against Southend United – twice – and Lincoln City in his two-year playing spell, writes Lewis Cox.

And, in his first season as a manager, Cowan’s Telford captured national attention in a stunning run to the FA Trophy semi-final, where they pushed Leyton Orient all the way.

Off the back of their long trip to Blyth Spartans, Telford make the considerable journey to Suffolk tonight where they will meet step three Leiston for a place in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round.

A victory tonight against the Southern Central Premier hosts, who are winless from their opening five league games this season, puts Cowan’s Bucks just 90 minutes away from the heralded first round.

“It’s not so much from an ego point of view,” Cowan said of a will to reach that FA Cup landmark. “The football always does it talking.

“But from a club and business level we want to get to that next level, which becomes national coverage and that’s what we want.

“We want people to see everything we’re doing for our club, town and county and be respected as we have been in past years.

“If I go back to Essex and speak to friends and family everybody knows of Telford and the amazing Cup runs. I want to put us on that map again.”

Cowan reached the first round twice as a youngster, making his way in the game with Canvey Island. He also enjoyed a couple of ding-dong local ties against Hereford after moving to Shropshire with Shrewsbury Town.

But it is the dates with Southend, where a New Bucks Head crowd of 3,361 saw the Bucks within seconds of a famous Jon Adams and Andy Brown-inspired victory over the Shimpers that stands out most.

The replay, which Telford lost 2-0 in Cowan’s home county of Essex, still rankles with the boss.

He added: “My best memories were with Telford. We made our way through some very good sides and encountered league sides and dare I say more than matched them.

“I felt we were robbed at Southend away when the referee gave a throw-in on halfway against Stuart Whitehead and to this day I can’t understand what he did. We were dominant, I think Andy Brown ran them ragged, he was unplayable. We should’ve won the home leg and away leg.

“They’re brilliant memories and I’m still in touch with most of those lads and get a text every time the FA Cup comes around.”

Aside from memories and romance of the great competition, there is a cold, hard reality of £5,625 prize money available for tonight’s winners – a significant figure in any campaign, let alone one affected by a global pandemic.

Defeats to lower-ranked opposition in Warrington Town and Nantwich Town have so far denied Cowan of leading Telford into the first round proper as manager.

And he knows more than most that it would be foolish to take Leiston, nicknamed the Blues and managed by Darren Eadie and Chris Wrigger, for granted.

“You’re a fool and naive if you want to take Leiston for granted,” said Cowan, who has no injury concerns other than the absent Brendon Daniels.

“They’ve come three rounds already. They’ll have a lot of belief, they’ll think it’s their year. It’s our responsibility to make sure we’re fully prepared.

“We’re not Liverpool playing in the Carabao Cup. Every game for us is a massive one. There are no easy games, these are just different challenges.

“Blyth wasn’t an easy game compared to Brackley, just a different challenge.”

On the prize at stake, he added: “Financially it is undoubtedly huge for the football club and that’s on our minds because of how we run the club and the way things are at the moment.

“We did well in the FA Trophy a couple of seasons ago and everybody remembers what a journey that was – we want to recreate that sort of Cup run.”

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