STRATFORD Town will be fuelled by the prospect of creating history when they tackle Long Eaton United in Saturday’s FA Cup tie.
The Bards have never progressed beyond the third qualifying round – they have lost four times at this stage – but they will have home advantage against a lower league side when Midland Premier Division side Long Eaton come to the Arden Garages Stadium.
With the scheduled midweek clash at Alvechurch postponed because of issues over fuel supplies, it has left Paul Davis’ side with a full week to get last weekend’s 2-0 defeat at Lowestoft Town out of their system – and to focus on the tricky challenge posed by Long Eaton.
Like Stratford, they have the incentive of rewriting their record books, having only once before got to this stage, back in 1965.
Stratford made their FA Cup bow in 1966 and have reached the third qualifying round four times – in 2004, 2006, 2011 and 2017 but lost to Southport, Bishop’s Stortford, King’s Lynn Town and Scarborough Athletic respectively.
The Bards have added to their squad by signing Callum Westwood and Amer Awadh from the team they beat in the last round, Nuneaton Borough.
Defender Westwood, 23, joined Boro in July from Corby Town and includes Northampton Town, AFC Rushden & Diamonds and Kettering.
Striker Awadh, 24, signed for Nuneaton in June 2021 from another league rival, Banbury United, an he has also featured for Oxford City.
Westwood, however, will be cup-tied on Saturday, having played for Boro in the 4-0 defeat to the Bards.
Last weekend, Stratford were made to pay for failing to take their chances as they slipped to a third defeat of the Southern Premier Central season.
Hosts Lowestoft started the day in 19th place at Crown Meadow and they rode their luck as Stratford were left frustrated.
Jordan Williams sent a thumping header crashing against the Lowestoft crossbar in the first half and it signalled the start of a series of near-misses. Jaanai Gordon, Enoch Andoh, Will Dawes and Jimmy Fry all wasted opportunities to break the deadlock.
But Lowestoft punished their profligacy with two late goals.
Lax Town marking from a corner ended with Ryan Jarvis nodding home and as Stratford pushed for a second they were caught out in added time when Lowestoft broke and a desperate challenge lead to a penalty converted by Ryan Hawkins.