PREVIEW: Cuckoos impress under Furnell, Tigers aiming for the top, Vase tie for favourites Fenmen

Yaxley manager Andy Furnell.
Yaxley manager Andy Furnell.
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Andy Furnell has enjoyed an excellent start to life as Yaxley manager.

The Cuckoos are unbeaten in six United Counties League Premier Division games since Furnell succeeded Brett Whaley in late November.

Holbeach manager Seb Hayes.

Holbeach manager Seb Hayes.

It’s an impressive streak which features five wins - the latest of them a 7-0 rout of struggling Sileby Rangers last Saturday (December 30), when Dan Cotton hit a hat-trick - and has launched them into the top six of the standings.

“We’ve been getting results and creeping up the table unnoticed which is just the way we like it,” said Furnell, who was named manager-of-the-month for the top flight earlier this week.

“We have so many creative players it is no surprise we’re scoring plenty of goals. I still believe we have more to offer, but we know we have much bigger challenges around the corner.”

Furnell is referring to home clashes against the current Premier Division top two - Newport Pagnell and Holbeach - during January.

They also entertain the Tigers in a UCL KO Cup semi-final next Tuesday (January 9). Yaxley are holders of that trophy after beating Wisbech Town in the final last season.

“We’ve probably left ourselves too much to do to be contenders for the title, but we’re determined to try and better what we achieved when finishing third last season.

“It would obviously be nice to retain a cup we won last season, and we’ll be judged on what we do in these bigger games.

“We didn’t compete when we lost at Holbeach in the league early in the season. I’d like to think we have a bit more about us now in terms of physicality.”

Yaxley, who are the top scorers in the Premier Division, are at Kirby Muxloe tomorrow (January 6) when third-placed Holbeach host struggling St Andrews.

The Tigers will move up to second with a point as title rivals Wisbech Town are in fourth round FA Vase action at home to Bromsgrove Sporting of the Midlands Premier Division. Bromsgrove are second so a cracking cup tie is anticipated.

Holbeach are determined to take advantage of their game in hand on the Fenmen. For the first time this season Tigers’ boss Seb Hayes has admitted his side are title contenders.

Holbeach underlined their credentials with a fine 2-0 success at table-toppers Newport Pagnell last Saturday, a win earned by a brace from leading scorer Lewis Leckie.

City-based Hayes said: “We fully deserved to win a game we controlled for long periods. We also defended brilliantly during the times Pagnell were on top.

“It is definitely up there with the best wins during my time in charge of Holbeach and it shows we are in the title race. It would be doing my players an injustice to deny that any longer. We now need to stay in the race for as long as possible.

“We have taken points off all the top teams except for Wisbech and they are now favourites for me.”

Deeping Rangers still have designs on the title, but they will need to win at Wellingborough Town to stay in touch.

Peterborough Northern Star continue to tick over nicely under Steve Wilson, but they have a tough game at home to Leicester Nirvana tomorrow (3pm).

Runaway Division One leaders Pinchbeck are at Lutterworth Town.

FIXTURES

Saturday, January 6

EVO STIK LEAGUE

Division One South: Lincoln Utd v Stamford, Romulus v Peterborough Sports, Sheffield FC v Spalding Utd.

UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE

Premier Division: Holbeach United v St Andrews, Kirby Muxloe v Yaxley, Peterborough Northern Star v Leicester Nirvana, Wellingborough Town v Deeping Rangers

Division One: Bourne Town v Bugbrooke St Michaels, Buckingham Town v Huntingdon Town, Lutterworth Town v Pinchbeck United, Potton United v Blackstones.

THURLOW NUNN EASTERN COUNTIES LEAGUE

Division One: Cornard United v Wisbech St Mary, Downham Town v March Town United.