Blues are going for gold in FA Cup

WINGATE & Finchley boss David Norman believes the pot of gold reward at stake from this Saturday s FA Cup clash would be felt throughout the entire club. Wingate entertain Aylesbury in the second qualifying round...


By Ian Cooper

WINGATE & Finchley boss David Norman believes the 'pot of gold' reward at stake from this Saturday's FA Cup clash would be felt throughout the entire club.

Wingate entertain Aylesbury in the second qualifying round, equalling their best ever run in the competition, with a �4,500 prize-fund at stake, as well as a chance to face opponents from higher leagues in the following rounds.

Much of that money would go towards the Blues' developing youth system and, while the league remains Wingate's priority this season, Norman admits the windfall from cup games such as Saturday's are vital in stabilising the club's future.

"The FA Cup has always had that romantic idea of the small clubs beating the big teams. You're chasing that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and of course we'd love to be part of that, it's the same for a lot of smaller clubs," said Norman, who took over as Wingate manager during pre-season.

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"For us and Aylesbury, for any part-time club, the money we could take home would tide us over for a fair period of time.

"Each stage is important, a lot of hard work goes into running the club. It's not just the first team, but the youth team and the whole set-up.

"We're very committed to our youth set-up, including a scheme with Whitefields College which started this year. It gives the youngsters a chance to be successful, but of course it all needs funding."

Wingate have already pocketed �3,000 after defeating neighbours Northwood in a replay in the first qualifying round.


And they will fancy their chances of progressing again this weekend after being handed a home draw against Aylesbury, who play in the tier below in the Spartan South Midlands Premier Division.

Norman's side have made an impressive start in the Ryman League Division One North and currently sit sixth, despite losing at Tilbury on Tuesday night.

Wingate's recent home form will also be a concern to visiting Aylesbury - the Blues have won two and drawn one so far this campaign at the Harry Abrahams Stadium, scoring eight goals and conceding twice along the way, with striker Leon Smith bagging a hat-trick in their latest home triumph against VCD Athletic.

However, Aylesbury have also made a strong start to their own campaign, and sit top of their league after beating Dunstable Town 2-0 at home on Tuesday evening.

The Moles also boast resilient form away from home, and have won all three of their trips away from Haywood Way this season, scoring six goals in total and keeping clean sheets on every occasion.

Norman is expecting a tough battle, and warned his side cannot afford complacency as they look to book their place in the next round.

"Stature goes out the window in cup games. It's a one-off, and that's when upsets can happen," Norman added. "We know that if we don't play at our very best on Saturday we have a very real chance of going out of the FA Cup.

"I suppose you could say the odds are in our favour playing at home against a team from a lower division, but it's about who performs on the day.


"We've got the utmost respect for them, they're progressing very well in the league, the FA Trophy and FA Vase, but we're doing very well as well - we were unbeaten in nine or 10 games before Tuesday. The players have done very well and we're now looking at an excellent squad."

Wingate suffered their first defeat of the season on Tuesday night as they stumbled ahead of this weekend's eagerly-awaited FA Cup clash.

The Blues surprisingly went down 2-1 in the league away at Tilbury, who had previously won just one of their seven fixtures in the Ryman League Division One North.

Despite starting brightly, Wingate conceded the opening goal from a set piece, but equalised before half-time through an Aynsley McDonald header.

After the break Blues striker Leon Smith put a volley wide of the post from six yards, and it proved costly as a 25-yard winner sent the visitors home pointless.

David Norman's side had every excuse to take their eye off the ball as they gear up for the FA Cup clash, but manager David Norman rejects that excuse.

"I wouldn't say that was the problem, we were missing three senior players and that made a big difference," he said. "Marvin Samuel, Craig Ellis and Jordan Fowler were all out - that's out captain, vice-captain and a very influential player with lots of experience. I felt we should have got at least a point, but these are the games we have to win."

Norman will be without Samuel again at the weekend through suspension, while Ellis and Fowler are racing to be fit.