TULIPS: Spalding ‘good enough’ to reach Wembley

TULIPS BOW: Gary King (right) is available for his long-awaited debut.
TULIPS BOW: Gary King (right) is available for his long-awaited debut.
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Pat Rayment reckons that his Spalding United side are good enough to make it all the way to the FA Vase final at Wembley this year.

Weather permitting, the Tulips visit Thurlow Nunn Premier League outfit Ely City in the fourth round on Saturday (3pm), with a trip to the home of football a realistic ambition for the winners.

The Spalding boss has vowed to get the best out of his talented team in 2013, with a new formation and two new high-profile signings also expected to be unveiled in the coming days.

Despite having a title bid and two other cup competions to juggle at the business end of the season, the prestige of the Vase has really captured Rayment’s imagination.

He said: “If you’re asking me if we’re good enough to get to Wembley, the answer is yes. That’s not a boast, we’ve got the players here to go all the way.

“The Vase is right up there in our list of priorities. Any player worth their salt wants to do well in this competition.

“We’re in it to win it, that’s for sure. I’ve seen Ely play, they’re a physical outfit and have a player that can throw the ball 50 yards. We’ll have to be prepared for that.

“If we stay strong and get our football going, it’s a game we can win.”

Saturday’s opponents Ely have had a modest time of it in the Thurlow Nunn Premier and find themselves in the bottom eight. But they’ve excelled in cup competition – and are targeting another scalp against the Tulips.

Robins boss Alan Alsop rates the Tulips as favourites for the tie, but reckons they are by no means unbeatable.

He said: “I am quite happy that we are underdogs. Nobody gave us a chance against Histon in the Cambs Invitation Cup but we beat them.

“It is all down to what happens on the day. If they play to the best of their ability then we are in for a tough time, but the pitch will be a leveller in its current condition and they won’t know how to play it.

“They are beatable and we have just got to give it our best shot.”

Striker Gary King is available to make his Spalding debut after suspension, but Chris Gray, Dave Kilby and Tom James are unavailable.

Should the game be postponed, it will either be rearranged for Tuesday or Saturday, January 26.