Stratford Town coach Paul Davis speaks ahead of Sunday's FA Cup tie with Shrewsbury
When Stratford Town’s players step onto the pitch for Sunday’s FA Cup first round fixture against Shrewsbury Town they will be etching their names into the club’s history.
The Bards’ opposition, who are five leagues above them in the football pyramid, are certainly more familiar with the rigours of England’s oldest cup competition, but Stratford Head Coach Paul Davis feels that he and his team are prepared for battle.
Paul said: “Once we got confirmation on Sunday that Alvechurch were kindly going to postpone our game until the 13th November, I spent most of that evening watching Shrewsbury games, as well as most of Monday and Wednesday as well. Some football league teams we’ve got good links with sent us some reports on them as well, so we feel we’re ready.
“Tonight (Thursday) we’ll work mainly on shape and how to counteract their threats and how we can hurt them, as well as some set pieces, and then Saturday will be mostly set pieces. We also have a presentation tonight, which we do for every opposition, this is just a bit bigger.”
On the likelihood that the Bards can land a blow on League One opponents Paul said: “Yeah, of course. We’ve got some good players, and threats in the right areas, but obviously we need to respect them. We’ve got a game plan. No one expected us to beat Boston and we managed to do it, so we’ll see if the lads stick to the game plan and whether that plan works.
“It’s an opportunity for our experienced players to pit themselves against players at that level, and also for our younger lads to have a go and see what level they’re at. The excitement has been building and we don’t lack any confidence in our dressing room, I’ve just got to get the belief through to the players. The bonus is we’re at home, and if the players believe and stick to the game plan, who knows?”
The club await news on the outcome of their appeal to the FA against defender Joe Magunda’s red card, which would see the 32-year-old miss out on a game the magnitude of which he may never see again.
If Magunda’s red card is upheld, there is still plenty of experience within the team that can be drawn on, Davis explained: “I know that Liam O’Brien in particular has rung a couple of the younger lads and said, ‘Just go and be yourself, don’t worry about anything’, and that’s invaluable to me.
“It’s really good to have a mix of experience, with those that’ve played in the competition, and younger lads that’ve got no fear and probably don’t understand quite what they’re about to achieve.”