TODAY is Steve Appleby’s 1000th day in charge of Wisbech Town - and he is hoping to receive the perfect anniversary present.

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The Fenmen can book their place in the third round of the FA Vase with victory over St Ives Town at the Elgood’s Fenland Stadium tonight.

Key defenders Paul Cousins and Jon Fairweather are both available for the replay after missing Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Westwood Road.

But the Saints have provided another twist in the increasing rivalry between the two clubs by putting in a seven-day approach for Fenmen top-scorer Dubi Ogbonna.

Steve Appleby said Ives’ joint boss Jez Hall had already contacted him to apologise for the timing of the approach.

“It’s water under the bridge,” said Appleby. “Nobody intimidates or plays mind games with me.

“Dubi will not be phased, I’ll make sure of that.”

The Fenmen will be hoping to finish the job tonight after several chances went begging in Saturday’s draw, which included 30 minutes of extra time.

Saints took the lead through Karl Gibbs before Wisbech roared back in the second half with goals from Chris Bacon and Matt Lunn.

Will Fordham’s 73rd minute penalty earned his side a replay, with the winner of this evening’s clash set to visit Merseyside club Bootle or Bradford-based Thackley in the next round.

Wisbech’s big night arrives as their boss – and ex-player – Appleby becomes the Fenmen’s first manager this century to rack up a four-figure milestone.

The Boston-based boss stepped into the hot seat on February 10, 2010 after Dick Creasey had temporarily replaced King’s Lynn Town-bound manager Gary Setchell.

Appleby led the club to their first trophy in 16 years by winning the Ridgeons League (Eastern Counties) Challenge Cup in May 2011.

The powerful midfielder, who had a distinguished non-league career, should soon overtake Joe Robinson (1,012 days), Dave Eldred (1,044), Joe Cockroft (1,065) and Oscar Hold (1,089) as one of the longest-serving Wisbech managers of all time.

However, he still has some way to go to get anywhere near the legendary tenures of Roy McManus (1,646) and Jesse Pye (2,448) - a former England international who bossed Wisbech in the 60s.

Appleby’s spell at the helm is in stark contrast to Mark O’Kane who lasted less than a day in charge.

He was appointed manager on September 18, 2001, but resigned just 18 hours later.

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