Crows ready for FA Cup test

ROYSTON Town face their biggest FA Cup test for six years when they take on Hendon at Garden Walk on Saturday. Two fine victories against Wembley FC (4-0) and AFC Hayes (3-1), have seen Paul Attfield s men reach the FA Cup First Qualifying Round for the f

ROYSTON Town face their biggest FA Cup test for six years when they take on Hendon at Garden Walk on Saturday.

Two fine victories against Wembley FC (4-0) and AFC Hayes (3-1), have seen Paul Attfield's men reach the FA Cup First Qualifying Round for the first time since 2002.

That year Royston, under the management of Gavin Head, made it through to the second qualifying round, before losing to Flackwell Heath on penalties at Garden Walk.

Saturday's opponents Hendon play their football in the Ryman League Premier Division, three tiers above the Crows.


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And the club has a strong-looking squad, which boasts a number of players with Football League experience, including centre-back Marc Leach, midfielder Charlie Mapes (both formerly of Wycombe Wanderers) and striker James Bent, who used to play for Yeovil Town.

Hendon also have a notable coach in Bontcho Guentchev, who helped Bulgaria reach the semi-finals of the 1994 World Cup.

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But Royston will go into Saturday's match with plenty of confidence, having already beaten two teams from higher leagues en route to the first qualifying round.

Last season, Hendon finished seventh in the Ryman Premier Division - just outside the play-offs - and reached the second qualifying round of the FA Cup, before losing 2-1 to AFC Hornchurch.

But so far this term, Hendon's form has been indifferent, and they currently find themselves 18th in their league, having won just one and lost four of their seven matches.

By contrast, Royston's own league form this season has been promising, with the exception of last weekend's 3-1 reverse against Stony Stratford Town at Garden Walk.

Attfield, who planned to watch Hendon play Dover Athletic on Tuesday evening, said that he was eagerly anticipating Saturday's match, and hoped that as many fans as possible would come to support the team.

He said: "I am thoroughly looking forward to Saturday, because the club has not had as big a cup game as this for years.

"Our home crowds have been good this year, and we had a bumper crowd of more than 200 against Wembley for the replay.

"If we can increase that and get as many people down there as possible, the support will give us more confidence."

Regarding the opposition, Attfield acknowledged that the Crows look set for a stiff test.

"We had a pre-season friendly against Cambridge City who play at the same level, so we know Hendon are going to be physically stronger than us," he said.

"But, if we apply ourselves better than we did on Saturday, and play as we have done in previous games, then with a little bit of luck, there is no reason why we can't get a decent result."

Captain Allan Reid (Army duty) and goalkeeper Damion Williamson (injury) will both miss Saturday's game, and Attfield will also give late fitness tests to Luke Robins (knee) and David Cain (ankle).

If a replay is needed it will be at Hendon on Tuesday, kick-off 7.45pm.

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