WCT Raiders 3 Tenbury United 2

PLAYER-manager Nicky Stocker is confident Tenbury United can hit the ground running - after a narrow cup exit in Worcester.

United led twice in Saturday's Worcestershire FA Saturday Minor Cup quarter-final tie before bowing out to the holders.

It was United's first defeat of the season - and their first match since December 14.

Jamie Insall, who normally plays for Westfields, struck the winner for 10-man Raiders with 10 minutes remaining.

"We had quite a few players missing and we might have beaten them had we fielded our strongest team," said Stocker.

"We really wanted to do well in the competition but, in the end, we are glad to get the match out of the way."

Teenager Tom Farr fired United ahead in the tie, which had already been postponed twice due to the wet weather.

George Pearson then deservedly put the visitors 2-1 in front before the break.

Raiders levelled early in the second half and then had a player sent-off before Insall sealed the match from the penalty spot.

Stocker said: "Raiders had a very strong side, including Insall, who normally plays for Westfields in the Midland Alliance.

"We led twice and our boys kept Jamie quiet until he scored the winner .

"Our goalkeeper, Jason Griffiths, had a quiet match apart from picking the ball out of the net three times."

The tie was switched to Northwick in Worcester and Stocker said the pitch played really well.

But Tenbury's scheduled trip this Saturday to Holme Lacy in Herefordshire League Division One is already in doubt.

“We had a 10-day break before Christmas but to not play for two months until last weekend was unheard of," said Stocker.

“We have not known anything like this sort of break during a season.

“It’s normal to have two or three weeks called off because of the frost or the snow but nothing this bad.

“Our pitch seems to drain quite well but the pitch has been unplayable for some time.

“Other pitches are worse and hold the water and Holme Lacy is under water at the moment.

"There isn’t much we can do apart from ask the league to change the fixture - it’s hugely frustrating for everyone."

United are top of Division One – their last league match was a 3-3 draw at Ledbury Town Reserves.

Stocker, 32, says United’s players have been training each week on the artificial surface at Cleobury Mortimer.

“As long as we can get out the same side as we had before Christmas, I think we will be fine,” he said.

Stocker says the club made the right decision to switch from West Midlands League Division Two to the Herefordshire set-up.

“We thought about making the move two or three seasons before but it was not the right time,” he said.

“With the manager, Colin Powell, leaving and the committee changing it was the right time for this season.”

“We were going away for matches with just nine or 10 players and it was a struggle at times.

“We thought we needed to take a step back and to bring through the young players.

“The league suggested we could have gone straight into the Premier Division but we felt it would be a bit too soon."