STANWAY Rovers joint-assistant manager Craig Hughes has admitted his club are ahead of schedule in terms of their rapid, impressive progress this season.

The Hawthorns side are third in the Thurlow Nunn League premier division, still going strong in the FA Vase and also still in the League Challenge Cup.

They play their next match in the latter competition tonight, at home to near neighbours Brantham Athletic (kick-off 7.45pm).

It has been an exceptional start to the campaign and Hughes, who works alongside manager Danny Slatter and fellow assistant Adam Munn, feels his team have "quality in abundance".

"Winning is a habit and keeping that going makes sure the togetherness is there, too," he said.

"All three of us have the same ethos on football.

"We knew what sort of team we wanted to build, along with the team ethic.

"We didn't think it would come this quickly and it's probably happened quicker than we thought.

"But the boys have bought into exactly what we want to do and there's nothing more pleasing than seeing them take everything on board.

"The results are coming at the moment and we need to keep that going.

"People may say we're a physical team or an ugly team but just because we work hard, it doesn't mean we haven't got quality.

"These boys have got quality in abundance and that shows through.

"We do work hard but don't underestimate our ability to play, as well."

Hughes, a former Brantham player, is looking forward to tonight's cup date against the Imps. "It's another local derby which is good for the club and hopefully we'll get another decent crowd for it," he said.

"There's a lot of crossover between the two clubs, with players having played for them and Stanway.

"It'll be a hard game.

"Brantham will never be a club that come to places and just roll over so it's going to be another really tough game.

"It's a cup that's really good for the club and really good for the boys as well.

"It gives you something to work towards and gives us the opportunity to have a look at some of the players that haven't been having so much game time.

"It keeps the squad hungry and the fight for places, which is really important."

Rovers head into tonight's match on the back of an impressive 3-1 victory against top-ten side Woodbridge Town, on Saturday.

"It was a really big three points for us and it builds a little gap between us and them in the table," said Hughes.