THE romance of the FA Cup is very much alive for non-League clubs this weekend – according to AFC Sudbury assistant manager Chris Tracey.
AFC, along with Hadleigh United (Heybridge Swifts) and Long Melford (Wroxham) will be going all out to ensure their passage into the first qualifying round of the famous competition when they play their preliminary ties on Saturday.
Sudbury travel to United Counties Premier side St Ives Town (3pm), who play the equivalent of a league below them, with Tracey upbeat about their chances of bagging the £1,200 prize money on offer.
“We are feeling confident ahead of the game with St Ives,” he said.
“We are playing some good football and we will look forward to it.
“The FA Cup is massive for clubs at this level. It will bring in extra money for the club and will get more people through the gate, which in turn will raise interest in the club and that is obviously what we are looking for.”
He added: “The romance of the competition certainly hasn’t died at this level and hopefully, because it has been a long time coming for us, we can come away with a good result and progress from there.”
Sudbury would then face a trip to Leiston or FC Clacton in the next round.
Meanwhile, Hadleigh United host Ryman League Division One North side Heybridge Swifts at Millfield, with manager Stuart Crawford looking to erase the pain of two home defeats in a week, including Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to FC Clacton.
“It is going to be a massive test and a tough game,” he said. “They are strong and drew with Needham last week and from the reports we have had they are a good side so it is a big ask for us. But it is a break from the league and we have to go out there with no fear and an attitude that we have nothing to lose. If we can get a result it will do the players no end of good.”
Hadleigh would host Lowestoft Town at home in the next round but the Brettsiders’ injury list continues to pile up with the news that skipper Paul Donnelly is out for eight to 10 weeks with a broken metatarsal while Simon Head (Achilles) Ollie Canger (hamstring) will miss Saturday, with Alan Ross already ruled out for the entire season.
Hadleigh were left to rue spurning good chances on Tuesday against FC Clacton before Danny Allen put them ahead after 27 minutes with a shot on the turn.
But they went into the break level from Kevin Coyle’s excellent equaliser before Liam Whittaker, after 64 minutes, and Coyle again, after 71 minutes, gave Clacton a second-half lead, reduced by a Luke Read effort on 85 minutes.
Long Melford hope to pull off a giant-killing act at Wroxham, who have won all four of their Ridgeons Premier games so far this season.
Manager Jason Maher, who will be without suspended pair Dann Cann and Craig Wilson, said: “I would not have thought at this stage there is much of a harder draw and to go there and get anything we are going to have to be at the top of our game but it is the FA Cup and anything can happen.”
The next round would see a trip to March Town United or Wisbech Town.
l THE FA Youth Cup will see Hadliegh United away at Leiston on Monday while Cornard United travel to Bury Town.