Brightlingsea Regent bolstered by big following as they take on Dunston UTS in the last-16 of the FA Vase - the biggest game in the club’s history

The return to fitness of Kevin Hughes (left) will be a big boost for Brightlingsea Regent today

The return to fitness of Kevin Hughes (left) will be a big boost for Brightlingsea Regent today - Credit: Archant

With their delayed big day in the last-16 of the FA Vase finally here, the Thurlow Nunn League’s only remaining survivor in the competition, Brightlingsea Regent, cannot wait to pit their wits against 2012 Vase winners Dunston UTS this afternoon.

Backed by an expectant 200 fans, Regent are aiming to paint their Gateshead-based opponents’ home-ground red with a full-blooded performance and result in the biggest game of their history.

Like five of the other proposed FA Vase ties last weekend, the Essex-based side saw their fixture postponed due to the wet weather but with Dunston confirming that today’s game will definitely go ahead, Regent can’t wait to get going.

“It is the biggest game of our history,” said Regent boss James Webster.

“The Vase is such a great competition and all the stuff it brings with is just fantastic.”

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Having frustratingly seen last week’s game called off, it’s been a busy week for Webster.

After defeating lowly-placed Thetford 2-0 at North Road on Tuesday evening to keep their Thurlow Nunn Premier promotion bid very much on track, the Regent boss travelled all the way up to the north-east on Wednesday evening to watch Dunston in Durham County Cup action against Shildon.

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“Me and my assistant made the late decision to go up and watch them,” confirmed Webster.

“I had them watched before but you just pick little things up for yourself when you go and watch.

“What occurred to me when we were half-way there was - ‘It’s a cup game before the Vase, are they just going to play their reserves?!

“Thankfully though, that wasn’t the case and they looked to be a lively, strong side.

“One thing that really stood out was how physical the game was up there, much more so than ours.

“We’ll have to stand up to that.”

Inevitably, and after a four-and-a-half hour drive, the tie went to extra-time with Dunston winning 2-1 and Webster not returning home until three o’clock in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Although last week’s call-off was a frustrating experience for all, it actually turned out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise for Webster’s men.

The extra week has allowed two of Webster’s key men in Kevin Hughes and top goalscorer Terry Rymer to be fit enough to start after the pair were major injury doubts last weekend.

Centre-half Hughes was a menace in their fourth-round victory over Bodmin Town and is widely regarded as the best defender in the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division.

He hasn’t featured since that win through a troublesome knee problem, but Webster has no qualms about throwing the experienced defender straight in.

He said: “Kev knows his own body and if it was anyone else, I would probably be a little concerned.”

Regent will be up against it versus the 2012 winners of the competition, but as proved with their superb season in the top level of Thurlow Nunn Premier football so far, Brightlingsea know no fear and go to Dunston with every chance of progressing into the quarter-finals.

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