Mant relishing chance to shine
Ashford United goalkeeper Joe Mant says the FA Vase fourth round tie at Hanwell on Saturday is the biggest game of his fledgling career.
The highly-rated 18-year-old has only conceded two goals in the club’s five ties so far, but could be in for a busy afternoon against the Spartan South Midlands League sharp-shooters, led by prolific frontman Bill Healey.
Thirty-seven goal Healey grabbed a hat-trick in the 5-0 win over United’s Southern Counties East League rivals Lordswood in the last round, but Mant is up for the challenge.
He said: “It’s a massive game for the club, everyone knows that, and I am really looking forward to it. It’s up there with the biggest I’ve played.
“We haven’t really spoken about them before, because Paul Chambers likes to concentrate on one match at a time, but there’s been a little bit of chat in the dressing room about Hanwell and their results. We know if we play as well we can give anyone a game.”
Boss Chambers said: “Hanwell must be a good side having got this far, we have had them watched and worked on things in training this week, but I see it as just another game, and a day out to enjoy.”
Lordswood boss Simon Halsey is warning United about Hanwell’s threat. He said: “I had them scouted and went there quite confident.
“The report I got was nothing like how they played, and they shocked and surprised me. They are a very good, well organised side.”
The tie in west London takes place just five miles from Wembley, venue for the final on March 10. United are the only SCEL survivors left in the competition and victory would leave them only four games from the final.
United travel to Erith Town on Tuesday in the Macron SCEL Cup quarter-final – trailing 1-0 from the first leg.
Chambers clocked up his 100th game in charge of United in that first meeting, with six of the 16-man squad involved in his first match at the helm – a 1-0 Kent Invicta League defeat at Hollands & Blair in August 2011 – still at Homelands.
He said: “It shows a certain amount of consistency, but we have got the right balance now, and everything is fine and dandy.”
FULL LENGTH: The Hamstreet goalkeeper denies Market Hotel during Sunday’s
Ashford & District League Premier Division game at The Ridge, Kennington. League
round-up, page 67