Eastbourne Borough boss Tommy Widdrington is hoping to conjure a piece of FA Cup magic to help them against Conference Premier outfit Dover Athletic on Saturday.
For the first time this campaign Borough will enter the tie as the under dogs against a team competing in the top tier of non-league football.
Last season Dover were promoted from the south division and looked a hugely impressive outfit when they outplayed Borough at Priory Lane.
Widdrington described it as the best away performance he had witnessed from a side last season as his young chargers were turned over 4-0. It was a painful experience for his men but one they learned from. In the return fixture at the Crabble Athletic Ground Borough were a much tighter unit and produced a mature performance to earn themselves a point from a hard-fought goaless draw.
Borough went on to narrowly miss out on the play-offs while Chris Kinear’s Dover side gained promotion after a goal from Nathan Elder was enough to beat Kent rivals Ebbsfleet in the play-off final.
Dover also enjoyed decent runs in the cup competitions last season. They reached the second round of the FA Cup before losing to the MK Dons and then made the last 16 of the FA Trophy, narrowly losing 3-2 to Eastleigh.
It a challenging fixture for Widdrington’s side who have progressed from the previous rounds the hard way. Borough required a dramatic penalty shootout to sneak past Ryman Premier side Enfield and at Kingstonian, Darren Lok netted a 94th minute winner to set up Saturday’s clash with Dover. Widdington, who reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup during his playing days with Southampton said, “For the first time we are the underdogs and we go into the match with nothing to lose.
“We all know what Dover can bring but we also know our own strengths. The FA Cup is something special, there is a romance about it and we want to be in involved in this competition for as long as we can.”
As with all good fixtures there are some interesting sub plots bubbling beneath the surface. Ian Simpemba, Elliott Charles and James Walker have all played for Dover while goalkeepers Mitch Walker and Lee Hook will make a return to Priory Lane in Dover colours.
Widdrington added, “I always used to enjoy playing against my former clubs but my lads have nothing to prove to them. They just have to prove to me each week that they warrant a place in my first team.”