*BS*MARTIN HAYES has his sights set on a first round proper trip to a Football League club in the FA Cup but the banana skin of Erith Town away is the first hurdle in his way this Saturday.*BF*
The magic of the FA Cup returns for Dover Athletic this weekend, though Whites’ boss and his players will hope to keep the “romance” of the cup to a minimum, for this round at least.
Whether you are Manchester United or FC United of Manchester, if a club is to achieve its target in a cup competition they will have to see off lower league opposition. Take a tie too lightly and, like Liverpool against Northampton at Anfield on Wednesday, you can be left feeling embarrassed by the final whistle.
Plus, it’s not as if we are averse to shock exits in the FA Cup here at Dover Athletic! Worthing, Hendon, Basingstoke, Dorking and Hythe are the first teams that spring to my mind when I dredge those sour memories from the past.
One first round proper appearance in 27 years is nothing to shout about, so there should be few Dover supporters visiting Erith Stadium on Saturday who are taking victory for granted.
*BS*Whites’ new manager is very keen to make it two first round proper appearances…*BF*
Martin has FA Cup pedigree as a player, reaching two semi finals with Arsenal. He was also one of the grim reapers beating Dover, when in October 2006 his Bishop’s Stortford side knocked us out at the usual 4th qualifying round stage in a replay.
Rob Gillman was on the winning side that night, when two Jimmy Dryden goals weren’t enough in a 3-2 defeat. Martin Hayes side also featured former Wycombe FA Cup hero Roy Essandoh. Dover were the underdogs back then, playing two levels below Stortford at the time.
*Lpic1*Martin Hayes told kentishfootball.co.uk: “When I was at Bishop’s Stortford we knocked Dover out of the FA Cup and that put us in the first round proper.
“I got there on two occasions in the last six years and they were great occasions. You’re on Match of the Day, the fans love it and the media hype that goes with it.
“We went up to Mansfield and you played in a proper stadium. Everything about it is a great day and a great occasion and that’s what I want the players to strive to be involved in. It’s great as a manager, the fans will love it, an away trip to a Football League stadium.
“With the squad we’ve got it’s a realistic target for us to hopefully stay in the Cup and try and be in that first round draw somewhere.”
This Saturday Dover are the favourites. Whites will expect to dominate off the pitch too, as the travelling fans should outnumber the hosts. So much so that Erith Town’s manager Steve Boyle is calling for more locals to bolster the home support.
Boyle told kentishfootball.co.uk: “Dover are going to come down with a lot of supporters. All I would say is anyone who is half interested in local football please come down and support us. We might need a few!
“And the way we’re playing we’ve got half a chance, with a little bit of luck, you never know.”
*BS*Don’t underestimate your opponents…*BF*
Martin Hayes used Tuesday’s friendly at Herne Bay to give his side a glimpse of Kent League opposition and provide non-regular players with a chance of getting more minutes in the legs.
*Lpic2*It is fair and honest to say that Erith are an unknown quantity for most Dover fans. I suspect the name Rikki Cable will crop up most frequently in my MatchdayLive updates on Saturday, as the tall frontman’s reputation at Kent League level is well known.
Cable has been a consistently prolific goalscorer for several years now, most notably for Thamesmead, where he made his name in Kent football. He is a scorer of different types of goals, with a knack for sniffing out an opportunity and pouncing on it – as he did in the last round against Slough Town.
Whether Erith’s key player will see enough of the ball to cause damage is perhaps the key to this tie. If Whites’ midfield are studious in possession, Erith should find it difficult to put significant pressure on the Dover defence.
Finding the tempo and confidence on the ball displayed in the 2nd half against Farnborough last Saturday may well dictate the outcome of Saturday’s game. The council stadium’s pitch will encourage good football, though Erith’s defence and goalkeeper may not be as generous as Farnborough’s!
Don’t put your house on a Dover win; history alone should teach you that. But do go to the match as Whites’ travelling fans have gone to each away game this season, as a vocally supportive influence on the players. Why? Take a look at our away record.
Complacency and frustration are very different emotions but both are easy traps to fall into when playing against lower league opponents – Whites’ players and supporters will need to bear this in mind if the dream of a first round proper adventure is to continue.
*BS*Erith Town vs Dover Athletic – Saturday 25 September
Support the Whites at Erith Stadium:*BF* *Link1*
*IS*Alternatively, you can follow all the action live on doverathletic.com.*IF*