FA Cup 1st round qualifying: HOLBEACH UTD v STAMFORD (Saturday, 3pm): Stamford boss Graham Drury paid Holbeach United a big compliment on the eve of this clash by tagging it as the Daniels’ biggest test of the season so far.
And it was no kidology – Drury clearly has admiration for what John Chand and his unbeaten Tigers have achieved so far this season.
Drury said: “I’m taking this match very seriously – I’m expecting it to be our toughest game of the season so far.
“Holbeach are going very well and I have a lot of respect for them.”
It’s been eight years since Drury was last at Carter’s Park, then as manager of Harrowby United. He was back there on Wednesday night to run the rule over the Tigers in their 2-1 win over Blackstones.
Drury said: “I’ve worked with a few of their players in the past and I know what they’re capable of so I’m expecting a tough time there on Saturday.”
The former Corby Town boss returned to the Stamford manager’s role over the summer and has made a good fist of pretty quickly improving their fortunes.
The Daniels lie second in the Evo-Stik First Division South after a 2-0 win at Loughborough Dynamo on Tuesday.
They have scored 14 goals in five league matches, so how they fare against the Tigers’ miserly defence will be key.
For Chand, it will be a chance to see how his squad measures up against higher opposition. He’s long been convinced that – with a little more consistency – they have the ability to punch at a step up. With six straight wins this season, progress is good on the consistency front.
The financial benefits of a good FA Cup run are a big factor too. The Tigers have banked £2,750 from 2-0 wins at Arnold Town and Kirby Muxloe and the purse on Saturday is a tantalising £3,000.
Drury said: “It’s very difficult to get sponsorship nowadays so clubs rely on decent runs for finance. We’ll be wanting to win for confidence and cash in the pot.”
Good news for the Tigers is striker Sam Mulready’s loan from Gainsborough Trinity has been extended for a further two months. They hope Spalding United agree a similar extension for midfielder Andy Toyne before Monday.