FOOTBALL: “We can beat Wrexham” says Daniels manager Drury
A buzz of anticipation is building around the town as the Stamford AFC team of 2016 bid to reach the first round proper of the FA Cup for the first time in the club’s history.
The Daniels take on higher league AFC Wrexham at the Zeeco Stadium in the fourth qualifying round on Saturday, 3pm ko, as they look to go one further than 2014 when they were beaten 2-0 by Hednesford at their old Wothorpe Road ground.
Stamford manager Graham Drury said: “It’s one of the biggest games Stamford have ever had. I just can’t wait for it to come now, it is all we are talking about.”
Drury said the overall feeling at the club was “excitement”. He said: “We are very positive, we believe we can do it. We are going to go out there and try and win it that is for sure.
“It’s a big tie, Wrexham have got a real FA Cup history - I mean they beat Arsenal in the cup.”
Wrexham are currently playing in the fifth tier of English football, the lowest level they have played since they were first elected to the Football League back in 1921, but they have reached the FA Cup quarter-finals three times in their history, and famously caused a huge FA Cup upset in 1992 against then English First Division Champions Arsenal, coming back from a goal down to win 2-1.
Of course the Red Dragons will be heavy favourites on Saturday despite the fact that yesterday the board at the Welsh club fired manager Gary Mills, who was under pressure after a 2-0 defeat at Tranmere Rovers last weekend which saw his side drop to 15th in the Vanarama National League table.
Head of youth football Andy Davies, youth coach Joey Jones, and former Peterborough United midfielder turned coach Dean Keates will take charge of away team on Saturday.
While Stamford are only 18th in the Evo-Stik NPL First Division South they are unbeaten in their last six games in all competitions.
Drury said: “They have not been playing free-flowing, free-scoring football this season and we will really test them.”
While Stamford will be underdogs because they play three divisions below Wrexham they have already done some giant killing this season, beating League One leaders Scunthorpe United 3-0 and League Two Grimsby Town, 2-1, in pre-season.
Drury said: “We played against a very good Grimsby side and we won. Scunthorpe are flying at the top of League One and we beat them as well with a really good performance. We have shown this season that we can play against the higher sides and really compete.”
Drury said training has gone well this week as he prepares his side to play in a couple of different formations to combat what Wrexham will throw at them. However there was the distraction of national television cameras on Tuesday night as the eyes of the footballing world focus on Stamford this weekend.
The Daniels will be without two of their strikers for the tie as skipper Jordan Smith is banned and new signing Grant Ryan, who scored on his Daniels debut in their 1-0 win over Basford United in the FA Trophy on Saturday, is cup tied. However Drury said he has no shortage of options up front with Elliott Sandy, Ollie Brown-Hill, John King, Ryan Robbins and Jevani Brown to pick from.