Rocks set sights on another fairytale FA Cup run

East Thurrock's Reiss Gilbey in action during their FA Cup clash with Macclesfield last year.

East Thurrock's Reiss Gilbey in action during their FA Cup clash with Macclesfield last year.

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JOHN Coventry says his East Thurrock side are looking forward to starting another FA Cup adventure tomorrow when they host Witham Town.

Rocks went on a fairytale run in the competition last year as they negotiated four preliminary rounds before being knocked out by League Two Macclesfield in front of a 1,200-strong crowd at Rookery Hill.

Coventry said: “We know what great rewards this competition can bring, not only in financial terms, but also in terms of generating excitement at the club.

“So the boys are looking forward to it and we would like to put on a bit of a performance.”

Coventry admitted Witham will “want to put one over on us”, but was happy to report that for the first time this season he has a fully-fit squad to pick from.

Witham manager Garry Kimble said: “We’ll go to East Thurrock as underdogs, but they haven’t won a game yet and they will be more worried about what we do than we will about what they will do. I’m going there to get a result as I know I’ll get £1,500 into my playing budget if we win and that can go a long way.”

Billericay will be hoping to end their five-game winless streak when they host Eastleigh tomorrow.

Only a 90th minute leveller for Tonbridge Angels denied Town all three points in a thrilling 3-3 at New Lodge on Tuesday.

And they’ll welcome an Eastleigh side who’ll be smarting themselves after a 1-0 defeat to Dorchester Town, which came courtesy of a 92nd winner on Tuesday.

Dan Trenkel admits his Great Wakering side face an acid test game at Bethnal Green tomorrow which will tell him how ready his players are to challenge for the Essex Senior League title.

Rovers have started well following their relegation, with the one blot a defeat away to Sawbridgeworth Town – a defeat player-manager Trenkel says was down to him picking the wrong team.

But they’re unbeaten at home and Trenkel acknowledges it will be days likes tomorrow’s tricky away day which will determine whether they go straight back up.

“I’m expecting one of the most physical games of the season at Bethnal Green,” he said. “I think in terms of football ability, we are head and shoulders above other teams in this division.

“But it is games like this I need my players to stand up in and get a result if we are going to challenge.”

And despite their promising start, Trenkel says that only an excellent goal return has masked the problem of conceding about two goals a game.

He also says his side should be more dominant in the midfield, and called on his strikers to take a higher percentage of the chances they have been creating.

“Performances have been OK but they are not yet at the level we expect and there is room for improvement,” he said.

Goals from Stuart Hepburn and Lewis Sparrow gave Rovers a 2-1 win over derby rivals Hullbridge Sports on Tuesday, and sealed an 8-3 aggregate win in the league cup tie.

Sports’ goal came from Jimmy Cox, and Trenkel said he was very impressed with how they have started the season and tipped them for a top-six finish.

Rovers will be without long-term injury victims Billy Johnson and Adam Holmes for tomorrow’s game.

Striker Ashley Hawkins will face a late fitness test but is expected to be available.

Elsewhere in the Essex Senior League, Bowers & Pitsea host Sawbridgeworth Town, and Hullbridge Sports entertain Eton Manor tomorrow.

Bowers come into the game on the back of a league cup, derby win over Basildon United on Tuesday.

Calvin’s Poku’s brace gave Bowers a 2-1 win on the night and a 4-2 win on aggregate. Greg Akepele’s goal at the Len Salmon Stadium had temporarily drawn the Bees level in the tie.

And John Higley’s Basildon United are back in cup action again tomorrow as they welcome Mark Stimson’s Thurrock to Gardiners Close for an FA Cup match.

League status suggests it will be a tough afternoon for the Bees, but Fleet come into the game second-from-bottom in the Ryman Premier after four defeats from five games.

The only team in the Ryman Premier below Thurrock are Leiston – and they host Southend Manor in the FA Cup tomorrow.

But Manor themselves are bottom of their division, the Essex Senior League. But they’ve already knocked Hullbridge and Kirkley & Pakefield out of this season’s FA Cup and will be hoping they can emulate the fantastic run they had in the competition last year.

Canvey were expecting to learn the extent of captain Rob King’s ankle injury this week.

The midfielder, who twisted his ankle in the defeat to Bury Town on August Bank Holiday Monday, was set to undergo scans on Wednesday.

“It’s just a case of waiting for the results and we’ll know more then,” said Gulls boss Steve Tilson .

Canvey face a second trip to Bury Town in the space of 12 days tomorrow – this time in the FA Cup.

Tilson said that with only 16 players fit and available he won’t be able to shuffle his side.

But he added he saw enough in the league game to suggest they can win at Ram Meadow.

He said: “In the first 25 minutes of that game we should have been 3-0 up, so we know we have just got to take our chances because they are at home and they will have spells on top.

“The league is our priority this year, but it would be nice to have a good cup run because of the financial rewards it can have for the club.”

Concord will be without in-form winger Reece Harris for their FA Cup match with Needham Market at the Aspect Arena tomorrow after he pulled his hamstring in Saturday’s draw at Hendon.

Concord manager Danny Cowley is also sweating on the fitness of keeper Michael Jordon.

Cowley brought in Tom Lovelock on loan from Sutton for the Hendon match, but he’s now been recalled by his club.

Cowley said: “We’ll see how Michael does, but it is a concern because it will be difficult to loan in a keeper for a cup game because clubs don’t like to have their keepers cup tied.”

Full-back Danny Glozier will be available, though, despite his sending off against Hendon. His one match ban will be served against Wealdstone on September 15.

Cowley said he’s prepared for a tough test tomorrow against a Needham side he is tipping for the Ryman One North title.

He said: “They are a good side, well resourced and they have a good manager. “They always have a game plan and have an identity to the way they play.

“And in Sam Newson they have a striker that any team in the Ryman Premier would like.”

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