Crawford eyes best ever FA Cup run for his Brettsiders

GOAL THREAT: Hadleigh will look to Ollie Canfer to lead their attack if Duane Wright  doesn't recover in time
GOAL THREAT: Hadleigh will look to Ollie Canfer to lead their attack if Duane Wright doesn't recover in time

Hadleigh United and Halstead Town are hoping to create some FA Cup magic as they embark on the Wembley trail this weekend.

Stuart Crawford says Thurlow Nunn League Premier Dvision outfit Hadleigh can take inspiration from their run to the quarter-finals of last season’s FA Vase as they look to beat their best run in the FA Cup.

The Brettsiders have never got past the first qualifying round after equalling that run last year before a 6-1 defeat at Ryman League Aveley.

But first they will have to see off Essex Senior League Premier Division side Takeley in Essex on Saturday (3pm) in the extra preliminary round before winning two more rounds to make history.

“ We can definitely take inspiration from the Vase,” said Crawford.

“We had a little bit of a soft spot defensively last season but not this season and I am sure the way we play will be set up for cup football.”

Should Hadleigh get past Takeley on Saturday, they would pocket £1,500 as well as setting up a preliminary tie at home to Ryman One North outfit Romford on August 31.

“We are definitely looking to get through a couple of rounds as a minimum,” said Crawford.

“We know nothing about the team we are playing other than they finished third last year in the league and have started with a win and a draw.

“They will be difficult opposition, but I would like to think we will get through the first two to three rounds in this competition.”

Saturday’s two-goal debut hero Duane Wright, back at the club, looks set to miss the tie as he recovers from a hand injury which kept him out of Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Haverhill Rovers.

Halstead Town manager Mark Benterman is hoping his First Division side can embrace the underdogs tag to cause an upset at higher-league Essex Premier Dvision side Great Wakering Rovers.

He said: “Every club wants to do well in the FA Cup as it is the most famous cup competition in the world.

“If we do well in the qualifying rounds and get through two or three that would be great.

“They (Great Wakering) are a step five club though and we are step six so it is going to be a big ask as we will be the tie, but you never know what will happen — every underdog has their day.”

Benterman could also have a new high-profile striker to help kickstart their cup run on Saturday.

The as-yet-unnamed player is said to be close to joining the Rosemary Lane club after playing in a trial match in a 5-0 home defeat against Southminster on Tuesday night which was down as a reserves friendly.

Benterman said: “We are 
in talks with a striker to add another dimension to our squad.

“He has great pedigree 
with a few pro clubs and would be a real coup for us to get him in.

“He is a player who could do real damage in this league.”

Halstead would face a trip to Brentwood Town in the next round, who beat them 6-0 in last year’s competition at what would be the same stage.

A full squad will travel to Great Wakering.

n Hadleigh United’s groundsman Chris Towell received a Thurlow Nunn League certificate for finishing in third place for his preparation for the Millfield pitch last season, behind groundsmen from Newmarket Town and Kirkley and Pakefield.