JOHN Coventry has warned his East Thurrock side to be on guard against complacency when they take on lower league Maidstone United in the FA Cup tomorrow.
The Rocks are just a couple of wins away from repeating their heroics of last year when they went on a lucrative run in the competition before being knocked out by League Two Macclesfield.
But the experienced Coventry says it would be foolhardy to look ahead of tomorrow’s game at Rookery Hill, saying their cup run last season underlined just what a great leveller the FA Cup is.
He said: “The one thing I’ve made sure my players know is that just because we are playing a Maidstone side who are from the division below us, we should not just expect to turn up and win.
“We went to an Eastbourne Borough side who were in the Conference South last year and knocked them out of the FA Cup.
“So we won’t be looking past this game, no way, and we won’t be underestimating Maidstone.”
Maidstone went to Grays and won 5-0 in the last round. Coventry went to see them wallop Tooting 5-0 last week, and says their confidence will also be high after an FA Trophy win over Margate.
He said: “Maidstone are quite a direct side with two big men up front, so we will need to be right on top of our game to beat them.”
The Rocks boss has cause for some quiet confidence, though, as his side come into the game on the back of four straight wins.
He said: “We were playing well in the early part of the season, but just not getting the results.
“And anyone who came and saw us will tell you it was often a case of us just not taking our chances in the first 20 minutes.
“But now we are taking those early chances and that, of course, helps us settle into a game and brings confidence.”
Coventry said it’s no coincidence that their good form has coincided with a goal-rush for influential front-man Sam Higgins, who has four goals in the last three games.
He said: “Sam scored a goal for the reserves and from then the confidence has returned and he’s just kicked on from there.
“Bringing Hakeem Araba in has also helped, but I never doubted Sam would start scoring again.
“I not sure this is exactly right but I think Sam has played 103 games for East Thurrock and has scored 88 goals. I think those stats tell you everything you need to know about Sam Higgins.”
Rocks’ only injury doubt heading into tomorrow’s game is over midfielder Sam Collins, who has an ankle problem.
East Thurrock are looking for a new team physio, and anyone who is interested can call John Coventry on 079798 797094.
Billericay Town are also in FA Cup action, with a trip to Evo-Stik Southern Premier side Cambridge City for a third qualifying round tie.
Town will be looking to recover from back-to-back defeats in the Conference South which has seen them drop to 18th in the table.
Cambridge are currently 14th in their division and come into the match on the back of a 4-1 FA Trophy defeat at Enfield Town on Saturday.
Jay May, Dave Collis and Marc Charles Smith all miss the game with their long term injuries.
And Billericay midfielder Luke I’Anson has joined Ryman South club Merstham. Billericy manager
Craig Edwards said: “Due to his work commitments Luke has been struggling with travelling up to Essex for training and matches.
"We received a seven-day approach from Merstham and due to these issues have accepted their offer and let Luke go there.”
Billericay are running a supporters’ coach to Cambridge which will leave New Lodge tomorrow at 12.15pm and set off on the return journey at 5.15pm.
It will cost £13 for supporters’ club adult members and £6 for under-16s, and for non members £15 and £8.
To book, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or send a text message to 07578 592454.
Canvey will be looking to build on their thrilling FA Trophy replay win at Wroxham on Tuesday when they return to Ryman Premier action with a trip to Leiston tomorrow.
The Gulls’ last league win came against tomorrow’s opponents in the reverse fixture in their second game of the season on August 21.
Canvey manager Steve Tilson said: “I’d like to make a few changes for Saturday’s game because the boys put in a big shift on Tuesday, but we don’t have the squad available to do that at the moment.
“I was happy with the win against Wroxham. But I never felt we were in danger of losing to them because they sat back in both games.
“We beat Leiston well when we played them at the start of the season, but we are prepared for another tough away day on Saturday.”
Canvey centre back Rickie Hayles will be available tomorrow after missing Tuesday’s game with a family bereavement.
Concord don’t have a game tomorrow and manager Danny Cowley says he hopes that will help injured trio Danny Spendlove (groin), James Elmes (knee) and Reece Harris (muscle) with their recoveries.
“We’ve got eight games in 28 days coming up and we are a bit thin on squad numbers at the moment so we might try to bring one or two in,” said Cowley, who plans to watch a Margate side tomorrow who will host his Concord team on Tuesday.
A late equaliser for Haringey & Waltham Development denied Southend Manor an Essex Senior League victory on Wednesday night in north London.
Manor took a 16th minute lead through Wilf Msiska but Harry Larner equalised for the hosts six minutes before the interval.
But they were only level for two minutes as a goal from Jay Smith sent Manor into the break with a 2-1 lead.
And it was a lead that looked like landing them all three points until James Jaconelli equalised again with six minutes to go.
Manor return to league action tomorrow at home to sixth place Barkingside.
Elsewhere in the division, Great Wakering will be looking to make it four games without defeat when they host Eton Manor, and Basildon United have a trip to Stansted.
Hullbridge Sports are at home to Barking, but John Doyle’s Bowers & Pitsea do not have a game.