Former Town manager Hards to run rule over Cup opponents
CIRENCESTER TOWN boss Brian Hughes is targeting another FA Cup payday when Graham Rix’s AFC Portchester of the (lower) Wessex League come to the Corinium Stadium on Saturday in the 2nd Qualifying Round tie.
It promises to be one of the matches of the round with two teams who could hardly be in better form.
Town took their winning sequence to five thanks to a late Aidan Bennett winner at Fleet on Saturday, while their south coast-based opponents have won seven in a row since drawing with league leaders Newport back in August.
They have already pulled off one giant-killing act when travelling to and beating Godalming – of Cirencester’s division – and their last three victories have resulted in 13 goals scored and none conceded.
“The winning side on Saturday collects £4,500 which would take us almost to £10,000 for our three FA Cup clashes this season – and that is vital money for a club at our level,” said Hughes, who is calling upon a former Cirencester Town manager to provide a scouting report on Saturday’s rivals.
“Neil Hards lives in Portsmouth and he has kindly agreed to watch Portchester for us in their league match with Christchurch on Wednesday night,” Hughes told the Standard earlier this week.
The current Town boss was delighted his side were able to maintain their momentum in the league over the past week – they have now moved up to sixth place in the table – with two hard-fought wins after their own giant-killing act at Banbury in the previous round of the FA Cup.
“The first half against Taunton last Tuesday was too easy for us and we could have been 4-0 instead of 2-0 up at half-time,” he said.
“I thought the exertions at Banbury caught up with us in the second half as we looked jaded and when they got their early goal, we had the jitters.
“We were on the ropes for a while and I was never more happy than when we scored the third goal.
“Saturday’s pitch (at Fleet, where Town won with the only goal) was the worst I have seen in 20 years.
“Both sides tried to play football but it was impossible and I was chuffed that we could win ugly.
“The squad all had a chat after Banbury and the target was to get six points from next two league games, so it is job done.”
Hughes admits that Tuesday night’s County Cup match at League Two side Bristol Rovers ‘has fallen at the wrong time’.
“Two or three of the first team would struggle to make it to Bristol in time due to work commitments so they will play for the Development side in another County Cup game against Slimbridge at home, while the lads who have been on the bench, like Jody Bevan and Dean Bromley, will start the game at Rovers.”
Club captain Shayne Anson has an outside chance of returning to the first-team squad for the FA Cup clash on Saturday after again missing out on Saturday with a nagging groin problem.