Dereham Town aiming for FA Cup upset
Dereham Town have played 20 hours of football without tasting defeat this season - and they have no intention of changing that as they aim to become FA Cup giant killers tonight.
Boss Matt Henman says 'being positive' is the key to success as they travel to Surrey for the third qualfying round replay against Ryman League outfit Met Police.
The teams drew 1-1 at Aldiss Park on Saturday and Dereham got stronger as the game went on and once they got over giving the opposition - who play two levels higher in the football pyramid - too much early respect.
'The lads are very positive,' said Henman. 'It is important we do not think we have achieved something by drawing and taking them to a replay. We have a good opportunity to progress in to the next round and the draw for the next round looks like it could be winnable.'
Confidence is high among the Magpies, after 11 wins and two draws in the opening 13 league and cup matches this term.
The winners from tonight will travel to South Park - who are also a step five club like Dereham - in the fourth qualifying round.
Defender Olly Willis will miss tonight's game after being carried off on Saturday with a groin strain. Fellow full back Gary Starling is also out as he serves a one-match suspension.
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But otherwise Henman is at full strength and all the players have been able to be available despite the long midweek trip to South London.
Henman has named a 17-man squad, which includes defender Jay Eastoe-Smith and midfielder Ryan Hawkins, who were both missing on Saturday.
Met Police boss Jim Cooper has warned team will be 'very different' tonight and added: 'I can assure Dereham we will give them a little bit more to worry about.'
But Henman said: 'We need to have credit that we stopped them playing on Saturday, We were very good without the ball and need to continue that and do a lot better with the ball and have more confidence with the ball,'
Met Police normally have small crowds and with a coach full heading down from Dereham plus fans travelling in cars, the Magpies followers could outnumber the home crowd.
Henman said: 'We will have good support and hopefully it will be like a home game for us.'
'There is a great buzz around the club and it is brilliant. It was a good experience on Saturday and it whets the appetite to progress the club.'
On the eve of the game, Dereham chairman Mike Baldry sent a good luck message to the team from his hospital bed.
Baldry is undergoing chemotherapy and is in hospital until Sunday, so will miss tonight's match and also the FA Vase match against Stewarts and Lloyds Corby at Aldiss Park on Saturday,
Baldry was at the game against Met Police at the weekend and was delighted to receive a card from the players wishing him all the best.
'That was lovely to receive and there is a good buzz around the club. The set up here is brilliant and the football is fantastic and it would be great to get more people in to support us.'
Baldry added: 'I want to say good luck to the boys and we were unlucky that we couldn't quite score the goal to make it 2-1 - which is what I predicted!'
Baldry said he expected lots of texts during the game to keep him updated.
'It is going to be hard to miss the game but it is one of those things.'
Met Police boss Cooper - who hopes to have goalkeeper Jamie Butler back for Wednesday's match - is looking for a great improvement from his team.
'With the squad of players we have got, we should have been much better on Saturday.
'We had them watched last week and knew they were a good side. Their form has been excellent and they are unbeaten this year so we knew going to Dereham would be a tough a task.'
But Cooper added: 'What I did not expect was for our performance to be so bad.'
He rued missing good chances in the opening period when Met Police dominated.
'When we scored we sat back and the boys thought it would be easy and we got a bloody nose. In the second half Dereham dominated and seemed to want it more than us and our guys seemed to find it hard to raise their game which was disappointing bearing in mind it is the third qualifying round of the FA Cup.'
Cooper said: 'I think a draw was a fair result on the day and the beauty of it is that we were both in the hat and we can give it another shot on Wednesday.
'I think it is about attitude on Wednesday. I think we will approach the game in the right way and if we do that we give ourselves a good chance of winning. But what I would say is that Dereham will also be approaching the game with nothing to fear.'
Dereham squad for Wednesday: Wilton, S Willis, Hannant, Howard, Gusterson, Howell, Borrer, Sutherland-Gray, Tuttle, Bussens. Bammant, Kay, Roberts, A Smith, Fox, Eastoe-Smith, Hawkins.
*Dereham Town are running a coach to the replay, which is now fully booked. Admission to the match will be �10 adults, �5 concessions.
*For those travelling independently, Met Police's ground is: Imber Court, Metropolitan Police Sports Club, Ember Lane, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 0BT.
*We will be providing updates during the game on our websites www.edp24.co.uk and www.pinkun.com/live from our reporters Ian Clarke and Gavin Caney and photographer Ian Burt who will be at the game. There will also be a report and pictures in Thursday's EDP.
You can follow Ian and Gavin on Twitter - @IanClarke41 and @GavinCaney