COUNTDOWN TO THE VASE CLASH WTH CONSETT – PART FOUR

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Hoops manager Derek Hares says Saturday’s FA Vase clash with Consett is the club’s biggest game since Deal won the trophy on that fantastic day at Wembley 20 years ago.

And one player who is particularly looking forward to the fifth-round tie is the most experienced player in the Hoops’ squad, left-back Steve O’Brien, who was interviewed on this week’s “Kent Non-League Podcast”.

Schoolteacher Steve, who is in his second spell at the Charles Ground, said: “I’m 32 now and it’s a bonus for me to still be playing in view of the problems I’ve had with my knee, and especially to be playing in a big game like Saturday.

“We’re travelling up there on Friday and stopping in a hotel near the ground, which is something I’ve never done before in my career, and to have the chance of getting to Wembley is obviously massive for everyone and I think it’s really brought the team together.

“We know that it’s going to be a tough game but you’ve got to expect that when you are only a few games from Wembley and we’ll give it everything we’ve got.”

Consett have scored 71 goals in 26 league games this season and are currently in fourth place in the Northern League First Division. But they didn’t manage any last weekend when they lost 3-0 at Newton Aycliffe, which was their first league defeat in over four months, and Hares said: “Consett were on a great run before that 3-0 defeat and we know they score a lot of goals, but we’ve always got goals in us as well and we’ll go out and play our normal game. Some people never get the chance to play in a game like this so it’s important we go out and enjoy it.”

The team will be cheered on by all the supporters who are going to the game on a Bayliss Executive Travel  coach, one of the Hoops’ sponsors, which is leaving the Charles Ground at 6am on Saturday for the 360-mile journey to County Durham.

And, if the scores are still level at 90 minutes they will see 30 minutes extra-time, but if there’s still no winner the tie will be decided by a replay at the Charles Ground a week on Saturday.

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