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FA CUP: Underdogs Stamford AFC looking to bite favourites Hartlepool on Sunday

By John Evely

Action from Stamford AFC's 1-1 draw at Gresley FC in the FA Cup second qualifying round. Photo: Geoff Atton EMN-160920-141032001
Action from Stamford AFC's 1-1 draw at Gresley FC in the FA Cup second qualifying round. Photo: Geoff Atton EMN-160920-141032001

Stamford AFC are on a giant killing mission on Sunday (2pm ko) when they travel to League Two Hartlepool United in the First Round proper of the FA Cup.

The Daniels face a side 95 places above them in the football league pyramid, as they look to go even further into uncharted territory in this competition.

Until Stamford beat Vanaram National League side Wrexham 3-2 in a replay at the Welsh side’s Racecourse ground they have never reached the First Round in their 120-year history.

Now Daniels manager Graham Drury and his side are looking for another big scalp.

He said: “We know it’s going to be tough. We are not naive. We are massive underdogs.

But if we can defend like we did against Wrexham, when we kept them quiet, just the one goal at our place and then two late goals at theirs, and hit them on the break then we have got a chance.

“We have to take our chances, we won’t get many, but if we can put the ball in the back of the net you never know what might happen and hopefully we will be in the draw come Monday.”

“I don’t think it is going to be all that different to Wrexham, that was like a cup final for us. We have got to repeat how we played against them. We want that feeling again, it was a fantastic changing room after the game.”

After the extra time victory away at Wrexham in the fourth qualifying round the players could be heard celebrating, yelling: “We are going to be on Match of the Day.” And right they are.

Highlights of the match will be shown on BBC2 at 7pm on Monday night along with the draw for the Second Round.

Drury said the added pressure of playing in front of the cameras will not be an added pressure for his side. In fact he said it should bring out the best in them, adding: “Hopefully the lads will want to show well for the cameras.”

While Stamford are undoubtedly underdogs, bookies Skybet have them at 11-1 to win, Hartlepool are not in a rich vein of form. They have not won in their last five outings, their latest a 3-2 loss to Barnett, and currently sit 20th in the 24-team League Two.

But then neither have Stamford, losing their last three matches having previously been on a nine game unbeaten run .

The Stamford squad are travelling up the day before and staying over to give themselves the best possible preparation for the game. But there will be hundreds of Daniels fans loading on buses early on Sunday morning to make the 160 mile journey north up the A1.

Drury said: “It’s a fair travel on a Sunday, the club have got 400 tickets and they have already sold something like 360, and there are others going up on their own.

“It’s good for the town and hopefully we can perform for them. The lads will give it their all.”

If you can’t get to the game follow live updates on Twitter from Mercury sports editor John Evely at @Mercury_JohnE.


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