*BS*This season’s FA Cup campaign has seen a lot of talk off the field take place before a ball has even been kicked – when the draw was made nine days ago, the FA dubbed the game as ‘the English Channel derby’ and Whites faced the prospect of travelling nearly 200 miles for the match.*BF*
With the hosts sharing their Footes Lane Stadium with the island’s rugby club, however, the scheduled kick-off time of 1pm on Saturday could not be met and no agreement could be found between the two sides for a mutually convenient time to play the game at its planned location.
A new venue was found, and Whites now travel to Culver Road, the home ground of Sussex County League side Lancing FC for a 3pm kick-off on Saturday.
Formed in 2011, Guernsey FC joined the Combined Counties Division One for the 2011/12 season and won 31 of their 34 league games in their debut season, scoring 138 goals in the process. The following season saw a second successive promotion, and with it elevation to the Isthmian League – this despite having 27 games postponed throughout the season, and having to play 23 games in 43 days and the last four matches of the season in four days.
Their biggest goal threat on Saturday is likely to come from striker Ross Allen, who scored 51 league goals in the 2011/12 season and followed this up with 53 goals in their last campaign, and netted a hat-trick in the side’s 3-2 first qualifying round win away at Hastings.
26-year-old Allen has now scored 120 goals in just 88 appearances for the side, and naturally has attracted interest from clubs higher in the pyramid – but Allen states he is not looking to move: “I had trials for years and it was something I wanted to do when I was a little bit younger. But I’m 26 now and some people would say that’s quite old in football terms. I’m not looking to move on.”
Whites enter the game on the back of an impressive 2-0 win away at Bath City last Saturday, which was much-needed after a run of four consecutive Skrill South defeats. The return of James Rogers to the side has brought balance to the squad and the left-sided player, who left Crabble in 2010 before his comeback last week, put a good shift in at Twerton Park. Nathan Elder also scored his first league goal of the season in the victory, which is likely to assure him of a starting position in this weekend’s match.
The signing of Elder, in addition to Terrell Forbes, adds vital experience to Chris Kinnear’s side as the club will realistically aim to make the First Round Proper for only the third time since the club’s formation.
Guernsey come into the match having won their last four league games (they beat Chipstead 1-0 on Wednesday night to continue this run), including a 5-1 win over Hythe Town last Saturday in which the aforementioned Allen claimed another hat-trick.
Since Dover’s famous Cup run in the 2010/11 season, which culminated in a Third Round trip to Huddersfield, home defeats to Bath City and Bromley have been disappointing and Kinnear’s men will be dreaming of a repeat of the club’s achievements from three seasons ago. On paper at least, with Whites forty places above their opponents at the time of writing, progression should be relatively comfortable however Guernsey will be fired up to cause a shock in their debut FA Cup season.
Prize money of £4,500 is on offer for the victors, and a replay – if required – would take place at Crabble on Tuesday 1st October with a 7.45pm kick-off.