*IS**BS*THE EMIRATES FA CUP
DATE:*BF* Saturday 7th November 2015
*BS*The glitz and glamour of the Emirates FA Cup returns to Crabble on Saturday, with Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division side Stourbridge making the trip to Kent. Both sides will be fighting for a place in the Second Round, leaving them just one victory away from a potentially lucrative tie against a Premier League club.*BF*
Whites’ superb run of form continued last weekend, when a solitary goal from Ricky Miller sealed a win against Tranmere Rovers, who – just two seasons ago – were plying their trade in League One. The long trip to Birkenhead, and the occasion of playing in a stadium three times the capacity of Crabble, didn’t overawe Chris Kinnear’s men at all and the deserved victory meant it is now eight wins from the first team’s last nine competitive fixtures.
This weekend offers Whites a temporary break from their league campaign, however on offer is the chance to continue attempting to emulate the club’s achievements in last season’s FA Cup. After historically struggling to progress to the First Round Proper, it is now a stage that Dover have reached for the last three seasons, a club record.
Coming to Crabble are Stourbridge, who are 7th in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division, just one point away from the playoff places. There is prize money of £18,000 on offer to the winner of this tie.
Whilst Whites have only had to win one match to get this far in the competition – a 2-1 win away at Vanarama National League South side Eastbourne Borough a fortnight ago – The Glassboys have had to navigate their way through four ties to be at this stage.
In the First Qualifying Round, they travelled to Black County rivals Tividale and won 1-0, before a 3-1 home victory over Dunkirk in the following round. The Third Qualifying Round saw them claim a 1-0 win against Rushall Olympic to make it through to the final round of qualifying, where they would be drawn to face Vanarama National League outfit Kidderminster Harriers.
Despite having home advantage, and facing a side struggling in the top flight of non-league football, Harriers started the tie as slight favourites but came completely undone – in front of a crowd of over 2,000, Stourbridge won the tie 3-0 and piled on the misery for Kidderminster.
That victory shows that, undoubtedly, the two-division gap between Saturday’s opponents could well count for very little on the day. They are indeed a side with real Cup pedigree in recent seasons, having reached the First Round Proper four times in seven seasons. They have reached the Second Round on two occasions – most recently in 2013/14 when they bowed out 4-0 to Stevenage, and in 2011/12 when they lost – again to Stevenage – 3-0, having beaten Plymouth Argyle 2-0 in a replay in the round previous.
Whites will be keen to get the FA Cup campaign well on track and, with a real taste for the competition after last season’s home match against Premier League side Crystal Palace, will start as favourites.
Fans are heralding this Whites side as one of the best in the club’s history, with a number of players leading the way in the records for the division. Stefan Payne has recorded the most shots in target in the Vanarama National League, and has scored ten goals in all competitions so far – and midfielder Nicky Deverdics is top of the assists chart, with 8. In goal, stalwart Mitch Walker has made the most saves in the division.
Stourbridge’s top scorer is the much-travelled striker Karl Hawley, who has 12 for the season.
With many Vanarama National League sides out of the competition already – including Gateshead, Wrexham, Tranmere Rovers and Bromley – progression for both sides will be top priority come 3pm on Saturday. There are only four other ties in this round in which both sides are non-league, increasing the victor’s chances of a trip to a big League One side in the next round – or for televised coverage.
Whites have a real sense of momentum currently, and the opportunity to kick start the ‘proper’ rounds of the FA Cup is something assistant manager Jake Leberl is happy with. Speaking earlier in the weekend to the Dover Athletic media team, he said: “I really believe last year’s run [in the FA Cup] helped us after our poor start to the season. Crabble is now a really good place to be. The FA Cup is a nice distraction [from the league] and seems to galvanise the fans.”
Despite their comfortable home win in the last round, it’s actually on their travels that Stourbridge have had most success in the league thus far. They have won five of their eight away matches, drawing the other three, as opposed to their home record of won three, drawn three, lost two. Their 25 goals conceded in 17 games is the third highest tally in the top nine, with their 30 goals standing as the fifth highest in that same bracket of sides.
There are no fresh injury concerns ahead of the trip, with an unchanged line-up expected to take to the field. Midfielder Liam Bellamy is now the only long-term injury doubt, as he battles to recover from a knee ligament injury.
Stourbridge’s possible line-up for Saturday, and player details, is as follows:
*BS*1. Lewis Solly*BF* – Experienced goalkeeper who returned between the sticks in March 2015 after a back injury disrupted his playing career. Initially saw service with Wolves.
*BS*2. Kristian Green*BF* – An energetic right-sided defender or wing-back who joined from Halesowen Town in the summer of 2015.
*BS*3. Daniel Scarr*BF* – A promising young central defender who joined in June 2015 from Redditch United where he impressed last season.
*BS*4. Tom Tonks*BF* – Joined from Halesowen Town in June 2015. A versatile and hard-working central midfield player who also has a tremendous long throw in his armory.
*BS*5. Brian Smikle*BF* – A pacey attacking midfielder or frontrunner snapped up by in March 2014 after leaving Stafford Rangers. The Tipton -born player originally progressed through West Bromwich Albion’s youth set-up, signing a professional contract in the summer of 2005.
*BS*6. Stuart Pierpoint*BF* – A Halesowen-based central defender recruited from Brackley Town in June 2015. He is an experienced and commanding player, and the club’s captain, who is a good organiser at the back, is strong in the air and reads the game well.
*BS*7. Matt Dodd*BF* – Joined from Leamington in March 2015. A pacey Wolverhampton born wide midfielder who came through the youth ranks at Sutton Coldfield Town.
*BS*8. Leon Broadhurst*BF* – A highly regarded and versatile player who re-joined for a third spell in October 2009 after a brief stint with Leamington and he reached 550 appearances for the club in February 2015. He has also notched over 100 goals for the Glassboys.
*BS*9. Karl Hawley*BF* – A vastly experienced and much travelled Walsall born striker who joined in August 2015. He started his career with his home-town club.
*BS*10. Justin Richards*BF* – A powerful and much experienced veteran striker signed from Sutton Coldfield Town in September 2015. His 29 goals in all competitions helped the Royals to win promotion via the Evo-Stik League Division One South play-offs last May.
*BS*11. Chris Lait*BF* – A quick and skilful wide midfield player, capable of getting amongst the goals, who arrived from Rushall Olympic in March 2015.
Saturday’s fixture will not be segregated, and standard admission prices apply – £15 for adults, £12 for over 60s, £6 for under 18s and under 11s entering free when accompanied by an adult. As this is a Cup competition, season tickets are not valid – all must pay.
If the match ends in a draw, the replay will be held at Stourbridge’s home ground Amblecote, on Monday November 16th.
Supporters unable to make it to Crabble on Saturday are able to follow the action via our Live Text service on Twitter – all you need to do is follow @DAFCLiveText.
*BS*OTHER EMIRATES FA CUP FIXTURES*BF*
*IS*Friday 6th November, 7.55pm*IF*
Salford City vs Notts County
*IS*Saturday 7th November, 3.00pm*IF*
Accrington v York
AFC Wimbledon v Forest Green
Altrincham v Barnsley
Barnet v Blackpool
Barwell v Welling
Burton v Peterborough
Bury v Wigan
Cambridge v Basingstoke Town
Coventry v Northampton
Crawley v Luton
Crewe v Eastleigh
Dag & Red v Morecambe
Doncaster v Stalybridge Celtic
Grimsby v St Albans City
Hartlepool v Cheltenham
Leyton Orient v Staines Town
Mansfield v Oldham
Millwall v AFC Fylde
Northwich Victoria v Boreham Wood
Plymouth v Carlisle
Portsmouth v Macclesfield
Rochdale v Swindon
Scunthorpe v Southend
Sheff Utd v Worcester City
Stevenage v Gillingham
Walsall v Fleetwood
Wealdstone v Colchester
*IS*Sunday 8th November*IF*
Didcot Town v Exeter, 12.00pm
Aldershot v Bradford, 2.00pm
Brackley Town v Newport, 2.00pm
Braintree v Oxford Utd, 2.00pm
Bristol Rovers v Chesham United, 2.00pm
Gainsborough Trinity v Shrewsbury, 2.00pm
Halifax Town v Wycombe, 2.00pm
Maidstone United v Yeovil, 2.00pm
Whitehawk v Lincoln City, 2.00pm
Port Vale v Maidenhead United, 3.00pm