It’s role reversal for Eastbourne Borough in the FA Cup at Aldershot tomorrow (Saturday) as they switch from firm-favourites to plucky underdogs.
In the previous round Borough were expected to cruise beyond Spartan South Midlands League outfit Hadley FC.
Hadley were eventually conquered via a replay as Borough banked £7,500 in prize money and advanced to the fourth qualifying round where they will face National Premier side Aldershot at the Recreation Ground.
Plenty is a stake for both clubs as the prize money starts to get serious. A cheque of £12,500 will be handed to the winner alongside a place in the first round proper - where a favourable draw could see them paired against the likes of Bolton, Sheffield United, Charlton or Millwall.
However, before Borough dare to dream of one of the big guns of league one or two, Aldershot, who are sixth in the National League, will take some beating.
The Shots have lost just three times this season and are one of the early contenders for a play-off spot.
Borough boss Tommy Widdrington said, “It is the magic of the cup. Now it’s our turn to go there with nothing to lose, it’s the opposite of Hadley.
“If we defend like we did in Bath, apart from the first three minutes, then we have a great chance.
“After the Chelmsford loss, we have worked hard on our defending and some of it is sinking in, we are improving. Importantly, we also carry a goal threat and if we can get both aspects firing on the day, then who knows?
“We have players at our club who believe they should be playing at a higher level, this is a chance for them to prove that.” Fit again Jamie Taylor is expected to lead the attack after impressing from the bench against Bath City.
Widdrington added, “Jamie is a big player for us. It’s great to have him available and training with the lads once again. He’s the most adaptable striker we have and can play in a variety of attacking positions.”
Aldershot boss Gary Wannock stated he’s expecting a tough physical battle against Borough having watched Widdrington’s men against Hadley.
He said, “I know Tommy Widdrington, really well and he will make it very difficult by having his team organised. “Whatever way you look at it, it’s an FA Cup game and players from both groups will be excited and raise their games.”