EAST Thurrock manager John Coventry says they’d love to put a smile on the face of leg-break victim Steve Sheehan with an FA Cup victory in their mouth-watering derby at Chelmsford City tomorrow.
The 22-year-old suffered a clean break of his shin bone after landing awkwardly in Saturday’s draw at Met Police and is waiting to learn how long that will rule him out of the game for.
And Coventry, who re-signed Sheehan from Canvey Island this summer, says they’d love to cheer the popular defender up a bit by booking a spot in the coveted first round proper.
Coventry said: “He’s a great character and it is a blow to lose him because he’s been improving every week since he came back and is an important part of our side.
“It would be great to win this game anyway, because it is huge for us, but it would be especially good to win it for Steve and cheer him up a bit.”
Sheehan, who tweeted how much he appreciates all the support he’s received from the club, is expected to learn today how long the injury might keep him out for.
He will have an X-ray which will determine whether or not he needs an operation to help repair the break to the lower part of his fibula.
If the injury does not need to be pinned, he could recover in six to eight weeks, but if it does he will be out for much longer.
Coventry said that, including Sheehan, he was lucky to have four good central defenders in his squad and that Spencer Harrison will now come into the defence alongside Simon Peddie.
The manager said he chose Harrison over Marc Gorbell because the former is a more natural replacement for Sheehan at right centre back.
Harrison played in Monday’s 5-0 defeat in the Ryman league cup at Aveley, but Coventry said he was not reading too much into a game, in which he made 10 changes.
“Only Ryan Sammons played in that game from the team I put out on Saturday,” he said. “And that was only because I wanted Spencer to play alongside the right-back he will be playing with.”
Even without the loss of Sheehan, tomorrow’s trip to a Chelmsford side who are currently fifth in the Conference South was always going to be a tough assignment.
The game will also bring East Thurrock up against their hugely influential former central midfielder Max Cornhill, who has seamlessly made the step up a level with the Clarets after joining them in May 2011.
Coventry said: “I always knew Max could play at a higher level. He’s a terrific player and one we will have to cope with if we are going to get a result here.
“But we believe in our own ability. I have the same squad here who went to Eastbourne at this stage of the competition last season and won.
“I think Eastbourne underestimated us a bit, which helped, but I don’t expect we’ll get that from Chelmsford because we played them in pre-season and they said some nice things about us.
“But it’ll be a good game and one I’m sure many people are looking forward to.”
East Thurrock have reached this stage of the competition after beating Witham Town, Kingstonian and Maidstone United in the earlier rounds.
Chelmsford have knocked out Leatherhead and Cray Wanderers. Both sides are now potentially just 90 minutes away from going into Sunday’s first round proper draw along with sides from Leagues One and Two.
Kick-off at Chelmsford’s Melbourne Stadium tomorrow is at 3pm.
Welling United’s continued involvement in the FA Cup means that their scheduled visit from Billericay Town has been postponed.
Billericay owner Grant Gordon said the team will train and in the afternoon he’ll probably go and see East Thurrock take on Chelmsford City in the FA Cup – with a Rocks scarf on!
Canvey Island manager Steve Tilson says he hopes their midweek mauling of Ilford can be the catalyst for a good run in the league.
The Gulls smashed six past their lower league visitors in the league cup on Tuesday – after only scoring nine goals in their previous 12 games this season.
Tilson said: “It was great to get the goals against Ilford but I was just as pleased with our performance against Bognor on Saturday because they’re a decent side and we dominated it and I thought we should have won the game.
“With respect to Ilford we should be beating them like that and if we’d put our chances away we would have had a few more.
“And I don’t think we are far away in our league, but when you come up against teams like Whitehawk, with the budget you’ve got and the firepower they’ve got, it is difficult.
“But like I said, we are not far away but it’s just small margins for us at the moment.
“What we need to do is stay competitive and take our chances, and hopefully Tuesday night’s result can give us that bit of confidence to go on and do that.”
Canvey start the weekend 10th in the table, a point above the Harrow Borough side they visit tomorrow, and Tilson said they are going there in a positive frame of mind and looking for three points.
The Gulls have been defensively solid, but a lack of goals means they are without a league win since the second game of the season.
Tilson said his first two months in charge of the Ryman Premier club had shown him that the difference between the sides at the top and bottom essentially comes down to quality in the final third.
But he said that overall he felt there was no reason to be disappointed with the start they’ve made.
“I think everyone needs to be realistic,” he said.
“It’s a year when we are trying to get a side together that can compete.
“We lost some players in the summer, and although the players that have come in have not made things worse, it will take time for them to gel.
“What I’ve tried to get the team to do is play some decent football, the lads put a lot of hard work in, so I don’t think anyone should be disappointed at this stage.”
Concord Rangers enjoyed a stunning comeback win in the county cup at Dagenham & Redbridge on Wednesday which featured a hat-trick from Harry Elmes.
Daggers were 3-0 up a minute into the second half, but Steve King pulled one back with a header a minute later and that set-up an incredible half from the Beachboys.
They reduced arrears further when Jerome Walker was fouled and Elmes converted the resulting penalty, and they drew level when the striker fired home from Tony Stokes’ flick on.
Last season’s semi-finalists completed the turn-around when Adetayo Osifuwa crossed from the right and Elmes smashed the ball into the roof of the net to send the travelling supporters wild.
Concord captain Stokes said Elmes is the best strike partner he’s ever had, and said it was a terrific night for everyone at the club.
”That is right up there with the best wins I’ve ever experienced,” said Stokes.
“They had six first teamers out there – players like Kevin Maher and Sam Saunders – and to come back from 3-0 down against a side like that tells you everything you need to know about our club.
“I think apart from our players on the pitch, nobody fancied us to comeback from that.
“But we’re in good form at the moment – I think we’ve only lost one in eight – so what we need to do now is take that form into Saturday and pick up another win and keep pushing on.”
The Beachboys haven’t lost in the league since late August. They return to Ryman Premier action tomorrow when they host Cray Wanderers at the Aspect Arena.
Great Wakering were knocked out of the Essex Senior Cup with a 2-1 defeat at Chelmsford City on Wednesday.
Ismael Welsh and Craig Calver gave the Clarets an early lead, and Ashley Hawkins pulled one back for Rovers 10 minutes before half time.
Rovers start the weekend third in the Essex Senior League and tomorrow they host 11th placed Haringey & Waltham Development.
Great Wakering were drawn away to London Bari in a two-legged league cup quarter final this week.
The draw also gave Bowers & Pitsea an away tie as they visit Eton Manor in their quarter final.
Bowers are in league action tomorrow - away to a Barking side a place below them in the table in 13th.
And on the back of their FA Vase win at Haverhill Rovers on Saturday, Southend Manor return to league action tomorrow with a visit to second-from-bottom Stansted. Hullbridge Sports host fifth-placed Takeley.
Basildon United did not have a competitive game tomorrow so they’ve arranged a friendly with Olympian League side Forest United. The match kicks-off at 3pm at Gardiners Close and admission will cost £3.
The Bees have been drawn at home to Burnham Ramblers in the quarter final of the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy.
It’s been another week of change at Basildon United, with John Mifsud lasting only a week as their new manager.
Bees chairman Paul Smith said he has received about a dozen applications for the job, that the new manager will be appointed in time for their home game with Enfield 1893 on October 27, and that whoever comes in will remain the manager at least until the end of this season.
For a full interview with Paul Smith on a summer of change at Basildon United, see next week’s Echo sport.