Burgess Hill Town manager Ian Chapman is ‘under no illusions’ ahead of his side’s first round FA Trophy tie away at Conference Premier side Aldershot Town on Saturday.
Remaining the only undefeated team in the top eight tiers of English football, Ryman South’s Burgess Hill Town are in consistent form ahead of their 60 mile trip to The Recreation Ground. In what is an unlikely task of progressing to the next round, Hillians boss Chapman claims his players don’t feel any pressure regarding their current 19-game unbeaten league streak.
He said: “It’s great for everyone concerned at the club. It doesn’t mean a thing, though, because it doesn’t win you anything. To do it is brilliant for the club and we should all be proud...the players haven’t mentioned it really. The squad has been exceptional so far and they need to stay grounded. I know it’s a cliché but it is one game at a time. I don’t think it (the record) is a major factor, with my players’ concentration rate this year... I’d hope they don’t think about it.”
Despite this feat, Chapman is keeping the FA Trophy match in perspective.
He remarked: “We’ve had a few big cup games this year and it’s another big cup game. Our priority is the league, but it’s another chance to put a few more pounds in the club’s bank account. They are three leagues above us and we aren’t under any illusions – it’ll be very, very difficult.
“The aim is to make a good account of ourselves and give it a good go. We’re obviously not expecting to win but we’re going to go there, try our best and see what happens. The whole club can go and we will try and make the club proud by putting on a performance that reminds people of what standard we are at.”
It is well documented that even a brief cup run can aid non-league clubs from a monetary stance. With the FA Trophy delegating a combined sum of over £17,000 for sides proceeding to the First Round Proper, this marks a huge incentive for clubs below the Conference.
Chapman said: “This year in the FA Cup and Trophy games I think some clubs are earning £25-30,000 in revenue – which obviously you don’t budget for at the start of the season, so it’s great that the club can do that and it just makes everything easier.
“A lot more people come to the games and there is a real buzz about the club. It all counts towards running a football club, it’s not that it makes my budget bigger, it’s not about that. Whether it is replacing something or painting something - it’s not about putting it back into the team, it’s about making sure the club is improving all the time and getting bigger.”
When discussing his tactical approach, the former Brighton defender isn’t aware of Aldershot’s specific strengths and purely has his sights set on his own team. In the knowledge that The Shots recently triumphed over Portsmouth in the FA Cup, Chapman hopes his side don’t replicate their ‘nervous’ performance against Dartford.
The Hillians manager said: “When it comes to a side like them, you can worry yourself by watching them. I’ve got a couple of reports from people who have played against them but I haven’t seen them myself. We’ve got to concentrate on ourselves and be the absolute maximum best we can be. We’ve got to hope they are really poor on the day. We are under no illusions - they are better than us.
“It’s important we go and do ourselves justice because this season so far we have been excellent. You’ve always got a chance. On the day, it’s a case of us being unbelievable. All my players have to perform to at least ‘eights’ , a couple have got to be ‘nines’ and ‘tens’, and we need most of Aldershot to be around ‘fives’. It’s a massively tall order. We know we’re not a bad side.”
With an added £6,000 up for grabs, the one-time Seagulls man will surely have his side fired up for the First Round Proper encounter.
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