FA Cup Preview: Ascot United FC v Sandhurst Town FCBy Adam Lee
August 09, 2012
Ascot United assistant boss Paul McGrotty will look to use last season’s FA Cup experience as a learning curve as his side aim to get through the extra preliminary round at the expense of Sandhurst Town tomorrow evening.
Last year, Ascot played the first game of the cup, at home to Wembley, in a match streamed live via facebook for the first time ever.
Understandably the game received quite a lot of attention in the days beforehand, and a bumper crowd turned up at the Racecourse Ground to see the Yellamen fall at the first hurdle.
It is a similar situation for Ascot this time around, as they play at home on Friday night (7.45pm kick-off) with a big crowd expected yet again.
But a year older and wiser, McGrotty believes that he and manager Jeff Lamb are now much better prepared for the pressure of the FA Cup.
“The hype and publicity surrounding last year’s game was a good experience – we had to make sure we kept our focus and we can draw on that experience again,” said McGrotty.
“We have to see it as just another game. Perhaps the players got a little caught up in it all last year.
“I really hope that we get a good crowd too.
“Friday night football is a really good idea for the clubs in the local area and the support that could potentially be achieved could bring some really beneficial turnover to the clubs.”
Tomorrow night’s game will be the first time Ascot and Sandhurst have met competitively, and is therefore a very difficult one to call.
Ascot should be much better equipped for Hellenic Premier Division football as well as a decent FA Cup run having strengthened over the summer.
Sandhurst, meanwhile, are something of a dark horse with only one player returning to Bottom Meadow from last season, winger Matty Day.
And having seen his side collect a win and a loss from their two Combined Counties Premier Division games so far, Fizzers boss Salv Diprima is certainly not putting any undue pressure on his players.
Diprima, who as assistant boss at Camberley Town helped them to a first round FA Cup tie at Brentford back in 1999, can’t wait for the game.
“I’m buzzing about playing in the FA Cup and I won’t need to motivate the players for this one,” he said.
“If they can’t get themselves up for an FA Cup game then there is something wrong.
“Both teams will raise their games and I know Ascot are a decent team anyway.
“If we can get a draw and take them back to our place so we can make a bit more money then I'll be over the moon.
“I love games under floodlights, so to be playing an FA Cup game on a Friday night on a good pitch under lights, you can’t ask for much more than that – game on!”
Meanwhile McGrotty, having seen Ascot lose their opening game of the season to possible title challengers Marlow, has urged his players to write that match off and start their season afresh.
“We are expecting it to be a tough game – local derbies are never easy,” he said.
“We just have to worry about ourselves and if we can perform how we know we can then we don’t have to be afraid of anyone.
“We will show them the respect they deserve and I'm sure they will be hard to beat.
“It would have been nice to have got the win on Tuesday, but we have to put that to bed now and say that our season starts on Friday.”
Ascot have a healthy squad ahead of tomorrow's game, with goalkeeper Chris Grace, a former Sandhurst player, the only doubt with a dead leg.
Joe Gritt definitely misses the game through suspension.
For Sandhurst, defenders Josh Watkins and Jack Thompson should be back in contention after illness, but the form of 18-year-old centre-back Harry Brown has left Diprima with a selection dilemma.
Coincidentally, both sides will be without on-loan Godalming players as Connor Cole, at Sandhurst, and Damien Smith, at Ascot, have not been granted permission to play so they are not cup tied.