Seagulls one step away from FA Cup first round
WESTON boss Craig Laird has warned his ‘buoyant’ players to keep their feet on the ground after a thrilling win left the club one step away from reaching the first round of the FA Cup.
The Seagulls’ 3-2 win over fellow Blue Square South side Havant and Waterlooville in the third qualifying round on Saturday means they will play Oxford City for a chance to play the likes of Charlton Athletic, Sheffield United and Preston North End.
But first Craig’s team must turn their attention to two league matches, starting with a home match against Eastbourne Boro on Saturday and continuing away to leaders Woking on Monday.
Saturday’s victory meant it was the first time since 2003-04 that the club have gone this far in the competition. That season they reached the second round, before going out to Northampton Town.
They had to fight back from an early setback against Havant, with Steve Ramsey putting them in front with a penalty after only three minutes.
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But Weston equalised after 19 minutes when Dayle Grubb’s free-kick was headed home by Jamie Price, and they went in front through a penalty of their own, Nat Pepperell beating Lyall Beazely from the spot after Kane Ingram had his shirt tugged in the box.
Although Havant drew level on the stroke of half-time through Oliver Palmer, Weston struck their decisive third goal after 53 minutes after Havant centre-back Chris Holland’s slip, which allowed Mike Mackay to score.
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Their reward for a win which netted the club �7,500 in prize money is another home draw in the final qualifying round on October 29 against Oxford City, who play in the Southern Premier League, the league below the Blue Square South.
Speaking of the result Craig said: “The players were buoyant after the result, but we have two key matches coming up so we must keep our feet on the ground.
“It was great to reach the last qualifying round, but Oxford City will be a potential banana skin so we must do our homework and not expect an easy match.”
Weston now face Boro, who have the same number of points but are two places above them in sixth through their superior goal difference, and top side Woking, and Craig said he will rotate players over the weekend to keep the squad fresh.
He continued: “Luckily we have a complete squad to pick from so every player will get their chance over the coming matches.
“These are very important matches so it is important not to get carried away by the cup, we will be measured at the end of the season on our league form.
“Two wins could see us back in the play-off positions so we need to be well-organised and prepared.”
Craig confirmed that striker Ben Hunt, who joined the club on a short-term contract at the beginning of the season, has left the club, while fellow forward Marcus Duharty has joined Mangotsfield United on loan for a month after recovering from a long-term injury.