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Needham Market to travel to Step 4 team Herne Bay in second qualifying round of FA Trophy

Herne Bay may be ‘as many as 30 places below’ Needham Market in the league structure, but boss Richard Wilkins is not taking this weekend’s away trip lightly.

The Evo-Stik League South Premier Central side travel to their Bostik League South East Division opposition tomorrow (3pm) in the second qualifying round of this season’s Buildbase FA Trophy, with the visitors as clear favourites.

But Wilkins emphasised that ‘anything can happen’ as he implored his players to ‘put in a professional performance and get the job done’.

TOP 10: Joe Marsden’s seven-goal count is only one behind Kettering Town’s Rhys Hoenes’ eight-goal tally so far (Photographer Ben Pooley)
TOP 10: Joe Marsden’s seven-goal count is only one behind Kettering Town’s Rhys Hoenes’ eight-goal tally so far (Photographer Ben Pooley)

“It’s not about the performance this time, it’s all about the result,” the Marketmen’s manager said.

“It’s about getting into the game as quickly as we can and making sure we don’t let it come down to one decision going against us.

“We’re absolutely the favourites, they are as many as 30 places below us in the football pyramid. But anything can happen in cups, so we need to be cautious of being over-confident.

“We need to go there and put in a professional performance and get the job done.”

With £4,000 up for grabs for the victor, the fixture is about more than just pride for the Step 3 club.

“Of course it’s important to get a good run – in the FA Cup and Trophy,” Wilkins added.

“Managers are lying if they say otherwise, there’s a lot of money on the table for a club like us, but it’s also the opportunities it can offer.

“If we get through, hopefully we will draw a Conference side in the next round – hopefully at home.”

It will be the fifth away fixture for the side in this season’s cup competitions, having yet to be drawn at home – in the FA Cup, CSS League Challenge Cup and now FA Trophy.

Wilkins conceded it was ‘a shame’ not to have continued their unbeaten run up to this tie, falling to a 3-0 victory at home to top-of-the-table Kettering Town on Saturday, but did not believe there would be a headache from the encounter.

It was only the third game this season (of 18, in all competitions) that the Marketmen have failed to score in, as their four-game unbeaten stretch ended.

Joe Marsden is in fine company in a joint second spot in the league’s top goal scorers with a seven-goal haul, but could not find the net on Saturday.

“Kettering have only conceded six goals,” Wilkins said. “So they are the hardest to score against, but we’re not struggling for goals this season in general.

“We create plenty of chances and did against Kettering. I was disappointed with the result because we collapsed a little after going a goal down, the score was flattering to them.

“There was nothing in it for about an hour.”

Former professional striker Lindon Meikle opened the scoring for the visitors in the 55th minute, then turning provider for the second goal before completing his brace with a cracking finish as Kettering scored three in 30 minutes.

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