Wokingham & Emmbrook FC have nothing to fearBy Adam Lee
September 14, 2011
Wokingham & Emmbrook have the potential to cause an FA Cup upset on Sunday, according to manager Roger Herridge.
The Satsumas host Evo-Stik Division 1 Central side North Greenford United on Sunday (3pm kick-off) in the FA Cup first qualifying round.
They have already knocked Hellenic Premier Division rivals Holyport and Kidlington out of this season’s competition, but the Middlesex side, despite having a relatively slow start to their campaign, represent an altogether different challenge.
This is the furthest Wokingham have progressed in the cup since the 2003/04 season, when they were knocked out 1-0 by Deal Town in the same round.
Back then Wokingham Town, as they were then known, were a team on the slide, but the 2011 Wokingham & Emmbrook outfit are a completely different proposition.
And Herridge, who watched North Greenford beat previously undefeated Bedworth Town 2-1 in the Southern League at the weekend, has warned Sunday’s opponents to underestimate his young side at their peril.
“North Greenford are a decent, well organised and strong team, but if we perform to the level we know we can then it is certainly a tie we can win,” said Herridge.
“Make no mistake, though, they are the favourites simply because they play at a higher level than us.
“But if we can play like we did against Kidlington then it’ll be a tough game for them.
“We are a side that will always score goals, but we have also tightened up defensively this year.
“I can’t see us not scoring on Sunday, so if we can do a proper job defensively, stay tight and cut out individual errors, then who knows?”
At the time of writing, Wokingham had gone seven games unbeaten, and had they won against Hook Norton in last night’s FA Vase preliminary round replay, then they will go into Sunday’s tie without a loss since the opening weekend of the season.
North Greenford, on the other hand, lost four of their six opening games this season, although before last night’s trip to Chertsey Town, the Blues had won their previous two matches.
With a team in form, Herridge insists confidence is high at the club and they they have nothing to fear from Sunday’s game.
And, with the club trying to raise their profile as they attempt to convince the council to provide them with land for a new ground, the extra publicity that comes with a prolonged cup run certainly wouldn’t go astray.
“We’re under no pressure and we are enjoying ourselves as we are just trying to progress as far as we can,” he said.
“There’s an expectation at the club at the moment – the players are disappointed if they are not winning.
“We can dream and although we’re obviously not going to win the FA Cup, we can get a result on Sunday and then we will be in the hat for the next round where we could come up against Conference South sides.
“Come Monday, if we’re still in the hat then I’ll be like a kid with a new toy waiting for the draw.
“Being in the cup has created a bit of interest and we have former players getting in touch again asking about the game.
“The more interest we can create then the more the council might notice us.
“But we’re under no illusions – we go into the game as underdogs, but we won’t go in with any fear and we know we have every chance.”
Wokingham, however, will have to make do without two of their most influential players in club captain and 2010/11 player of the season Tom Hopper, as well as his central defensive partner Ashley Mitchell.
The duo have struck up a solid and disciplined partnership at the heart of the Wokingham defence, and although Hopper has been away for the last two games, losing former Reading academy player Mitchell will be an added blow.
Alex Walton is almost certain to retain his place at centre-back, where he could be partnered by David Bellis, James Rusby, Neal Hanson or new signing Scott Bursill.
Left-back Alex Luis is also unavailable on Sunday, while Herridge will monitor the fitness of striker Garry Sargeant (Achilles).