Haverhill Sports Association have Wembley visions with FA Vase run
HAVERHILL Sports Association boss Ben Cowling admits there are whispers of Wembley around New Croft – and believes their FA Vase giant-killing victims have been underestimating them so far.
Cowling’s side, who are unbeaten in fourth place at Step Seven level in the Essex and Suffolk Border League Premier Division, face Peacehaven & Telscombe in the FA Vase third round at home today (kick-off 3pm).
Their opponents, two divisions above, have just assumed top-spot of Sussex County League Division One and are on an unbeaten run of 19 matches, winning their last 12.
However, HSA have already upset Thurlow Nunn Premier Division sides Norwich United and Dereham Town – both two leagues higher – plus Thurlow Nunn Division One side Ipswich Wanderers in a barnstorming cup run.
“To be honest we had no thoughts at the start of the season we would get this far,” conceded Cowling.
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“But we’ve beaten some quality teams and I think they’ve been under-estimating us because we’re a step seven side.
“I’ve been on the other side of that. When you take on a team from a step or two below you, you think you should roll them over.
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“But it’s been 15 months since we were beaten in the league and so the players have tremendous self-belief at the moment.
“We have great confidence in ourselves. We’ve done our homework and come up with a game-plan which we have managed to pull off in each round so far.
“Our performances have not surprised me but the performances of our opposition have. Norwich United probably took us lightly.
“Against Dereham there was no doubt who the best team was. I thought we thoroughly deserved to beat them.
“But this will probably be the hardest one. They are top of the league, have won 12 on the bounce and will be full of confidence.
“I’m expecting them to have most of the possession but we’ll do what we’ve been doing and have a go.”
The winners of the tie will collect �1,500 in prize money and earn a place in the last 32 – and Cowling admits visions of walking out at Wembley are hard to dispel.
“Just to be in this position talking about getting to Wembley is incredible,” he added.
“We entered the competition hoping we might sneak into the first round and give some younger players some first-team experience.
“We only started last year so for a club this size it’s brilliant to say we’re only five wins away from Wembley.
“The FA Vase is a great competition and has been great to us so far.
“The players have performed to a level I didn’t think they had in them, but today we’re entering completely uncharted territory.”