Hadleigh United have ‘nothing to fear’ in FA Cup

“We HAVE nothing to fear,” says Hadleigh United manager Stuart Crawford as his side prepares to enter unchartered territory in the FA Cup.

Hadleigh have had a dreadful FA Cup record since they were admitted into the competition for the first time in 1995-96 when the FA increased the number of participating clubs.

An Andy Powell goal gave Hadleigh a 1-0 win at the Millfield in their first FA Cup match on August 26, 1995, before Scott Clarke’s side lost 1-0 at Romford in the next round.

Hadleigh failed to win another tie until last season’s 3-2 success at Stanway Rovers, before bowing out 4-1 at home to Heybridge Swifts.

But after an extra preliminary round 3-0 win at Ipswich Wanderers, Hadleigh went to Ryman League Division One North Harlow Town on Saturday and won 2-1.

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That win has earned the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division side a first round qualifying tie away to Aveley, who were relegated from the Ryman League Premier Division last season, on September 8.

Crawford said: “We will definitely be going there with nothing to fear. It will be a different game to Harlow – I expect them to try to play more football from what I have heard about them – but there is no reason why we can’t beat them.”

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The Hadleigh manager was delighted with his side’s display at Harlow – one of the best non-league grounds Crawford said he has visited -– on Saturday.

“We did really well and tried to pass the ball, which was the complete opposite way they were trying to play, and we looked like the team from a higher league.

“We fell behind early on, but I always felt we would get back into it.

“Lee McGlone scored a screamer to put us ahead before half time.

“They put us under more pressure in the second half but we defended well just as we have done for the last four games during which we have kept three clean sheets.”

After losing their opening two league games Hadleigh have now strung together four consecutive victories.

“We didn’t have any strikers available for those first two games and had to play people out of position and I knew it was going to be difficult but was hoping we would somehow scrape through,” Crawford said.

“But since we have got our strikers back the side has looked good and I am confident going forward. Our defence has been the biggest problem in the past, but they have been superb.”

One of those strikers, Ben Deacon, looks likely to leave – Brantham Athletic and Walsham-le-Willows have both been linked – after returning from holiday to find that former Leiston and Needham Market striker McGlone has joined and he is no longer first-choice.

Matt Buckle has joined Felixstowe & Walton United, where his father Steve is manager, while Jon Ince, who has returned to Wickham Market, and Jamie Cowan both asked to be released, and Calum Smith has gone on a month’s loan to Walsham-le-Willows.

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