Haringey ready to provide ‘great game’ in front of biggest ever crowd

A crowd of 402 watched Haringey Borough defeat Poole Town by a 2-1 scoreline at Coles Park to qualif

A crowd of 402 watched Haringey Borough defeat Poole Town by a 2-1 scoreline at Coles Park to qualify for the first round of the FA Cup on October 20 2018 (pic: George Phillipou/TGS Photo). - Credit: George Phillipou/TGS Photo

Haringey Borough’s previous best attendance was 1,133 in December 2017, but Aki Achillea confirmed it will be smashed on Friday night

Haringey Borough will set a new record attendance on Friday night when League One side AFC Wimbledon visit Coles Park in the first round of the FA Cup, chairman Aki Achillea has revealed.

The Bostik Premier club are preparing for the biggest night in their history with the BBC Two cameras present to broadcast the historic tie.

Tom Loizou’s Borough had never reached the first round before, but a 2-1 victory at home to Poole Town in the fourth qualifying round on October 20 sent them through and two days later they were given a plum home tie against the Dons.

A crowd of 1,133 witnessed Haringey lose valiantly by a 2-1 score to Leyton Orient in the first round of the FA Trophy at Coles Park on December 16 2017, but a much bigger attendance will be recorded for Friday’s 7.55pm kick-off.

Chairman Achillea said: “It will definitely get smashed because we have sold more than 1,133 tickets ourselves and obviously we don’t know how many Wimbledon have sold yet.

“They were given an initial 700 and there is provision for more if needed, so we will definitely have well over 2,000 and it could even reach 2,500 and that has been very taxing over the last week.

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“It has been unbelievable trying to prepare to host so many people. We have had meetings with the police and council and had to get safety certificates because of that, so it will be the highest crowd ever at our ground.

“Making the arrangements is proving difficult, but everyone is up for it. We are meeting virtually daily delegating tasks to various people to make sure we provide what we hope will be a great game and more importantly a game where everyone will be safe.”

When Haringey had over a thousand people present for the clash with Orient, the FA Trophy fixture went ahead with no problems and 809 watched the Bostik North play-off final in May and no issues occurred.

The hope will be all the focus is on the pitch where Borough will fancy their chances against a Wimbledon team struggling for form in League One.

Achillea admitted, however, things might have been so different had Poole taken one of their chances in the previous round.

With the Dolphins winning 1-0, Richard Gillespie was played through, but his shot hit the post and rebounded back to Haringey custodian Valery Pajetet and later in the game, Jorge Djassi-Sambu equalised before Joel Nouble struck an 83rd-minute winner.

“It was a pretty even game, but they weren’t troubling us at all and then they got a penalty out of nothing,” Achillea said.

“Our player fouled their player and gave away a needless penalty and the minute they scored the blood drained out of my body.

“I was thinking ‘here we go again, falling at the final hurdle’ but in the second half we come out a completely different team.

“We dominated the whole half, we had chance after chance, their goalkeeper pulled off two or three really good saves and we had a few near misses, but it seemed like we were never going to score.

“Then they hit us on the break and went clean through with only the goalkeeper to beat, but the shot hit the post and bounced into Valery’s hands and at that point, I thought ‘we still have a chance’ and then we got the two late goals.

“Someone was smiling on us. The final whistle was incredible, especially because the referee kept looking at his watch, but wouldn’t blow and hysterical scenes once he did, so it was brilliant.”