Eastbourne Borough won't underestimate FA Trophy opponents
Eastbourne Borough manager Danny Bloor will take nothing for granted when Tiverton Town arrive at the Lane tomorrow (Saturday) for an intriguing FA Trophy tie.
The Devon side play a step below the Sports, in the Southern Premier, but Bloor is expecting no easy passage. "We all know that cup competitions are great levellers. Clubs and players raise their game – we would do the same if we were up against higher status opponents."
Tiverton sit in midtable and last week held title favourites Hayes & Yeading to a goalless draw. In the Trophy – which Borough enter only at Saturday’s third qualifying round stage – Tivvy bagged an impressive 3-1 away win at Bracknell in the previous round.
Joint managers Martyn and Scott Rogers are well known and hugely respected figures in West Country football. Martyn actually stood down in the summer after 18 years as manager – but by mid-September he was back! Proving once again that from non-league, there is no such thing as retirement.
"We have had Tiverton watched, and I’ve spoken with other opposition managers in their Southern Premier. They are a strong, well-organised side. This will be a tight game."
Bloor still has one or two key absentees from his squad. Chris Whelpdale is having a scan on his troublesome ankle, while Jaden Perez is cup-tied after appearing for Burgess Hill Town in an earlier round. Mitch Dickenson is nursing a strained groin muscle but hopes to be fit.
"There is no question of fielding less than our very best side," says Danny. "However, it’s useful that the competition allows seven named substitutes – and since the Development Squad have no fixture, I will have a strong bench.
"I am expecting one or two squad personnel changes during next week - watch this space!"
Bloor was heartened by last Saturday’s strong showing in the 3-1 victory over Slough Town – and by the surge of vocal support from an 805 crowd swelled by a large contingent of youngsters.
"It was brilliant - the best and loudest atmosphere since I took over as manager! We were buzzing afterwards in the changing room, not just from the performance but from that huge wave of support.
"The players, to a man, were saying what a difference it made. Our commercial manager Sian Ansell has been working hard on this, and we are finally building that bridge between the youth section and the first team.
"We need that at every home game from now on! Priory Lane has always had its contingent of the older and wiser fans, and we love them too of course – but let’s bridge the generations!"
The Sports have a rather modest recent record in the FA Trophy. Last season they bowed out 3-1 at Haringey Borough on a bleak Tuesday December night.
And in the previous season, Borough drew 2-2 with Salisbury City – also of the Southern Premier – before making two gruelling trips to Wiltshire.
The first replay was called off at a fogbound Salisbury, and the second trek ended in defeat to a single 90th-minute goal.
That deciding goal should almost almost certainly have been struck off for a foul on goalkeeper Scott Chalmers- Stevens – but by that time, nobody in the stadium had the heart for yet another half-hour.
This season, FA Trophy ties are decided on the day, with extra time and penalties if necessary. So whatever happens, there will be no late nights in North Devon. Kick-off at the Lane is at 3pm.