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Dillon: Pressure is off Hartley Wintney ahead of historic FA Cup tie
HARTLEY Wintney manager Ben Dillon says the pressure is off his side as they prepare for the biggest game in the history of the club.
The village side host Daventry Town in the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup on Saturday knowing that victory will see them into the first round proper, the point at which Football League clubs enter the competition.
Dillon said: “I do have to pinch myself when I think we are 90 minutes away from the first round of the FA Cup. What we have achieved has only really sunk in over the last couple of days.”
Hartley, who play their football in the Combined Counties League Premier Division, go into the game as underdogs. Daventry have made a spectacular start to the season, winning 14 out of 16 games so far to sit top of Southern League Division One Central, a level about their hosts.
However, Dillon sees this as a positive, taking the emphasis off his side.
“There’s no pressure on us now,” he said. “It’s all on Daventry because we have done really well already.
“It would be great to get to the first round and draw a league team away from home but if not then everyone will still be happy with what we have achieved.
“I believe we can do it 100 per cent though. They are a good side and their record this season speaks for itself but it’s 90 minutes in the FA Cup at our place and you never know what might happen.
“We will have to be at our best but you never know. If we work really hard then Daventry will be in for a tough game because we have players with great ability.”
A bumper crowd is expected at the Memorial Ground for Saturday’s game (kick-off 3pm) and Dillon has been delighted with the way the village has got behind his side.
“It’s a big thing for a village like Hartley Wintney and everyone seems really happy,” he added.
“We have had lots of people say they will come to watch and get behind us. It should be a great day.
“We are hoping for a big crowd. We had 400 there for the last round and it’s a bigger game this time, so hopefully we’ll have even more people there.
“Not many of us will experience an atmosphere like Saturday again so we have to make the most of it, enjoy the game and do the business on the pitch.”
Hartley warmed up for their FA Cup date by progressing in another FA competition, the Vase. Sam Argent scored twice, while Dillon and Shane Hollamby also found the net as Hartley recovered from 2-1 down at half-time to beat visiting Petersfield Town 4-2 in the first round on Saturday.
They will now travel to Erith Town in the second round on November 16, while the village side return to Combined Counties Premier action on Tuesday, hosting Chessington and Hook United.
Visit basingstokegazette.co.uk/sport for live coverage from the Memorial Ground on Saturday afternoon.
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