The Hoops will attempt to reach the fourth round of the FA Vase
for only the third time in their history when they take on Southall at the
Charles Ground on Saturday (3pm).
The first occasion came when they won 3-0 in a third-round tie at Crook Town en route to winning the trophy in that never-to-be forgotten day at Wembley in 2000, and then four years later Deal headed north to Durham again to play Jarrow Roofing Bolden Community Association but this time they suffered a 3-0 defeat.
Southall, for their part, are also former Vase finalists but their day out at Wembley ended in disappointment when they were beaten 3-0 by Halesowen Town in the 1986 final.
The Ealing-based club play in the Cherry Red Combined Counties League Premier Division and are currently in 10th place with 25 points from 15 matches, a record which is similar to that of the Hoops, and manager Derek Hares said: “It’s a 50-50 game if I’m honest. Me and Steve King went to watch them last week and, while they are a decent side, we do feel it’s a winnable game for us.”
Southall have already eliminated one SCEL club from the competition. In last month’s first round they were drawn at home to Tunbridge Wells and, after drawing a high-scoring encounter 4-4, they then won 3-1 in the replay which was played just two days later.
The Hoops lost 2-1 at home to Wells last weekend but Hares added: “The fact they beat Tunbridge Wells tells you they’ve got something, but if we play at our best I’m confident we can get through.”
One problem for Hares, however, is that he will be without skipper Luke Bigginton who is suspended after being sent off in the Wells game while Kane Smith is again doubtful because of a hamstring injury, but Lee Scott should be fit to return after being ruled out last weekend by illness.
The Tunbridge Wells game attracted an attendance of 201 to the Charles Ground and Hares is hoping for another 200-plus crowd on Saturday, saying: “The fans can help us, absolutely, playing in front of a crowd spurs everybody on.”
The winners of the tie will receive £1,125 in prize money, and if the scores are level at the end of normal time on Saturday 30 minutes extra-time will be played.
The Hoops held their end –of-season “presentation evening” on Friday but, like so much else at the moment, it took place in unusual circumstances. Because