Tro­phy tie holds no fear for boss

Uxbridge Gazette - - SPORT -

THE Stones will travel to Con­fer­ence Na­tional side South­port with no fear as they at­tempt to re­live the magic of 2011-12 in the FA Tro­phy on Satur­day, writes Jon Batham.

So says boss Gor­don Bartlett, who led the then-Ry­man Premier League side to the semi-fi­nals of non-league foot­ball’s premier cup com­pe­ti­tion in Olympic year, claim­ing the scalps of Con­fer­ence sides Bar­row and Cam­bridge United en route.

Con­fer­ence South out­fit Dart­ford were an­other of the vic­tims in that epic run five years ago. There­fore, while Bartlett is happy to wear the un­der­dog tag for the trip to the north­ern sea­side town, he isn’t rul­ing out an­other up­set.

“This evokes mem­o­ries of beat­ing Bar­row and then Cam­bridge in the quar­ter fi­nal a few years ago,” said the Stones man­ager. “They were fine days and ones that prove we have done it be­fore.

“We are tech­ni­cally a bet­ter side than we were back then, with more abil­ity in the group and [we are] a bet­ter pass­ing side. If we can match the en­ergy of the op­po­si­tion, we will be in with a shout.

“It is a long trip, but the way we are play­ing we will give ev­ery­one a game. Their league sta­tus alone says they should be bet­ter than us so we are the un­der­dogs, but they don’t frighten us.”

The ‘Sand­grounders’ find them­selves at the wrong end of the Con­fer­ence Na­tional ta­ble ahead of the cup clash, giv­ing Bartlett rea­son to hope they may be dis­tracted by rel­e­ga­tion fears.

Nev­er­the­less he is aware of their scor­ing prow­ess, and with his de­fen­sive re­sources stretched de­spite both Wes Parker and Tom Ham­blin be­ing back on the bench for Satur­day’s 4-2 de­feat at home to ti­tle-chas­ing Ebb­s­fleet, Bartlett is not un­der­es­ti­mat­ing the chal­lenge.

“They have a home game with Bar­row on Tues­day which, if they lose, means they are in a dog­fight,” added the Weald­stone boss. “I know they have had in­juries and are run­ning with a small squad, but I’ve read they are try­ing to bring play­ers in on loan. They score a lot of goals at home, hav­ing had some 5-4s and 4-3s, so it should be quite an open game.”

Mean­while, Bartlett has added to last week’s cap­ture of for­mer West Ham man Nathan Mav­ila by turn­ing de­fender Liam Gould­ing’s loan from Ac­cring­ton Stan­ley into a per­ma­nent sign­ing.

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