Brantham Athletic bidding to cause an FA Vase upset

Brantham Athletic striker Ben Deacon, who could be a key player for the Suffolk side against Whitley

Brantham Athletic striker Ben Deacon, who could be a key player for the Suffolk side against Whitley Bay

BRANTHAM Athletic boss Tony Hall is urging non-league football fans to get behind his side ahead of the club’s biggest cup match for 30 years.

The Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division side host four-time FA Vase winners Whitley Bay in the fourth round proper tomorrow for a place in the last 16 of this season’s competition.

Brantham, under the management of Stan Box, reached the last 16 in the 1982/83 season, before bowing out 2-1 to VS Rugby.

Hall said: “We have reached the last 32 and although there is still a long way to go in this competition, I hope people around the area come along and support us.”

Whitley Bay sent two scouts down to watch Brantham beat league leaders Walsham-le-Willows 4-3 just after Christmas, although they left with tomorrow’s opponents trailing 3-2 with just three minutes remaining.

Hall, who was born in Jarrow just five miles from Whitley Bay and is managing director of a building and maintenance company with offices close by, had hoped to watch their opponents at first-hand, but has been thwarted by the weather.

He said: “They have only played once since December 18, so every time I have had someone ready to go and watch them, their game has been called off, although we did have them watched a fortnight ago.”

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After a run of five successive postponements Whitley Bay, who are currently fourth in the Ebac Northern League Division One, beat Hebburn Town 5-0 on their return to action, but have suffered three further call-offs since then.

Whitley Bay won the Vase in 2001/02, defeating Eastern Counties League side Tiptree United 1-0 at Villa Park, before recording a hat-trick of successes in 2009, 2010 and 2011, so Hall is in no doubt who are the favourites.

“We have teams in our league who give us tough games and I am expecting them to do the same.

“They have won the Vase four times in the last ten years, so we need to be aware of that, but I think we will be the underdogs,” said Hall.

Hall should have a full squad at his disposal apart from midfielder Ben Garnham, who underwent groin surgery last week, and recent signings Ross Norfolk (Stanway Rovers) and Nico Farthing (Halstead Town), who are both ineligible.

Dave Grimwood and Ben Deacon were both rested for the 3-2 win at home to Haverhill Rovers a fortnight ago, but have since recovered from slight knocks.

Whitley Bay, who are making the near 300-mile journey down to Suffolk today, are expected to be cheered on by up to 200 supporters.