There’s nothing like an FA Cup run to create excitement around a football club – and give a boost to finances with ever-increasing FA prize money on offer for each round of progress.
But there’s been nothing like an FA Cup run at Sittingbourne for years, the closest to one ending with a trip to Conference South side Staines Town in the third qualifying round four years ago.
This season’s FA Cup trail starts on Saturday when Sittingbourne make a four-hour round trip into deepest Sussex to face unknown quality in Pagham.
The Sussex County League side have started their season in style, winning 4-0 against Arundel in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup and following it last Saturday by beating Horsham YMCA by the same score in their opening league fixture.
But Sittingbourne are also two from two in competitive games this season, so someone’s 100 per cent record is going to go on Saturday.
Having won 2-1 at Chipstead on the opening day of the season in the Bostik South League, Sittingbourne did their confidence a power of good with a sparkling 3-0 midweek win over old rivals Herne Bay.
The match had extra significance as so many of last season’s team had left Sittingbourne to join Bay in the summer and five of them – the back three of Josh Wisson, Jack Steventon and Jono Richardson, as well as Jake Embery and Raphe Brown – were in the starting line-up.
But they were eventually swept aside by the new-look and powerful Sittingbourne side, Kane Rowland, young sub David Smith, and Bola Dawodu, striking second half goals to the delight of a decent-sized 200-plus crowd.
It was a night to remember at Woodstock. Before the game, manager Nick Davis had played down the significance of a match against so many familiar faces, but he was as animated as he’s ever been in victory.
It’s 10 years since Sittingbourne won the first two league games of a season, and it gives them plenty to build on with a squad that are clearly enjoying their time together.
Last season the Brickies were unbeaten in the first five league games, winning a couple and drawing three, but during that bright spell they also crashed out of the FA Cup, beaten by Hythe Town in a replay.
That’s a pitfall they’ll be trying to avoid this weekend when they travel into the unknown at Pagham.
Should the match end in a draw, there’ll be a replay at Woodstock on Tuesday evening. Otherwise Sittingbourne will be away to Faversham Town in the Kent Reliance Kent Senior Cup that night, provided Faversham themselves aren’t involved in a replay of their FA Cup tie with Croydon.
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