Richard Wilkins insists Bury Town have ‘nothing to lose’ as they look to book their place in the last 32 of the FA Trophy for the first time in 42 years.
Despite hosting a professional side in Eastleigh at Ram Meadow tomorrow (3pm), who sit 28 places above them in the football pyramid — currently second in the Skrill Conference South — the Blues boss is determined they won’t get an easy ride in Suffolk.
“It is a massive challenge but hopefully all the players can raise their game,” he said. “We have nothing to lose as they are favourites and probably favourites to go quite a long way in this competition.
“We have a game plan and certain things we are looking to exploit and do, but that could go out of the window in the first 10 to 15 minutes — hopefully we can play with the right tempo.”
Bury last reached the second round for the one and only time in their history back in 1970/71, when they lost 2-0 at Hereford United after overcoming Nuneaton Borough.
They are making an appearance in the first round for the first time since a 3-1 defeat at Havant and Waterlooville in 2008/09, with £5,000 prize money on offer to the winners.
Bury go into the match with Wilkins telling his players to forget their 5-2 league defeat at Bognor Regis Town on Saturday, which broke a sequence of five straight wins in all competitions, four of those coming at Ram Meadow.
“I said to the players ‘lets put it behind us and go another seven or eight games’,” said Wilkins.
“The scoreline flattered them — they should have been down to 10 men for a shocking challenge on Billy Clark when even their bench said he should have gone.
“With respect none of their goals were good, they were all down to individual errors.”
With Eastleigh boasting a fearsome forward line of former Football League hitmen Stuart Fleetwood, Craig McAllister and Yemi Odubade, Bury fans will be relieved to hear giant centre-half Adam Bailey-Dennis is set to return alongside Tom Bullard.
The ex-Conference defender missed Saturday’s defeat with a knee injury but both Russell Short (knee) and David Bridges (finger) remain out.
A scan on the former is pointing to damaged cartilage, while Richard Wilkins described news Bridges, who had a pin put into his finger this week, will be sidelined for at least a month as ‘a big blow’.
nWith Bury’s Christmas Fayre using Ram Meadow car park, fans are being urged to seek other ways of arriving at the ground.