New challenge for Lowestoft
LOWESTOFT Town's love affair with the FA Vase may have come to an end this season - but joint-manager Micky Chapman wouldn't have it any other way.The Suffolk side made it to a showpiece Wembley Vase final in 2007 and reached the semi-finals last season, however, following their promotion to the Ryman League, they are no ineligible for the competition.
LOWESTOFT Town's love affair with the FA Vase may have come to an end this season - but joint-manager Micky Chapman wouldn't have it any other way.
The Suffolk side made it to a showpiece Wembley Vase final in 2007 and reached the semi-finals last season, however, following their promotion to the Ryman League, they are no ineligible for the competition.
Instead they will play in the FA Trophy - the competition that encompasses teams from step four of the non-league pyramid right up its top-flight, the Blue Square Premier.
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The Blues kick-start their new adventure today in the preliminary round with a home match against fellow Division One North side Redbridge.
Should they progress today, they would then be just three victories away from the first round and a potential draw against the likes of former Football League clubs such as Luton, Oxford, Wrexham and York.
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“It's an exciting challenge for us,” said Chapman, whose side top the Ryman League Division One North table following a dream start to the season.
“We obviously had some success in the Vase, but this is the next step and there is no good looking back.
“There is always going to be a tinge of disappointment that we got to Wembley and didn't win it - I'd be lying if I said otherwise - but we've got to look forward now.
“The FA Trophy is one down from the FA Cup and is something we are really looking forward to. There are some really big clubs in the Trophy and potentially some mouth-watering ties if we can go on a bit of a run.”
Lowestoft are favourites to progress today against a Redbridge side that have won just one of their opening eight league matches. Today's winners will receive �2,000 in prize money.
Chapman, who jointly manages the side with Ady Gallagher, said: “We are full of confidence, but still have our feet on the ground. We know Redbridge will be a tough game.
“There is a hunger among our players to be successful in whatever competition we play in. It's fantastic that we are still in the FA Cup hat and we want to try and stay in the FA Trophy too.”
Elsewhere in the Trophy, AFC Sudbury visit Romford tomorrow in a 2pm kick-off. Nicky Smith's side have made a disappointing start to their new campaign in the Zamaretto League Division One Midlands, winning just two matches, but will take confidence today from the fact that both of those victories have been on the road.
Romford are currently third from bottom of the Ryman League Division One North table after taking seven points from their opening seven games, while Sudbury have taken a point less from the same number of matches.
Richard Wilkins' Bury Town travel to Surrey today to face a Croydon Athletic side that are currently fourth in the Ryman League Division One South following four wins from seven.
Meanwhile, Essex side Heybridge Swifts host VCD Athletic, both of whom have taken eight points from eight games in the Ryman League Division One North this season.