FA Cup preview: Rocks and Lions out to make waves

Dan Beck will be a key man for Bognor against Merstham / Picture by Tim Hale

Dan Beck will be a key man for Bognor against Merstham / Picture by Tim Hale

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BOGNOR and Pagham aim to sprinkle a touch of FA Cup magic on West Sussex on Saturday – but both face tough tests to extend their stays in the competition.

Both have home ties in the first qualifying round – the Rocks host fellow Ryman premier side Merstham while Pagham entertain Ryman one south outfit Carshalton.

There’s £3,000 apiece for them if they plus the chance of more glory and cash in the next round.

Pagham have already earned £3,425 by coming through the extra preliminary and preliminary rounds.

The Rocks and the Lions each have injury and unavailibility problems hitting their build-up to Cup day.

Bognor are still without full-back James Crane, serving a three-match ban for a league sending-off versus Tonbridge.

We say it every year and this year is no different – it would be nice to have a little run in the Cup. The rewards are obvious and the fans love it.

Jamie Howell

And central defender Craig Robson could also still be missing. He has served a two-match ban for a red card for dissent in the same game but has had another two games added to the punishment for dissent shown after the card – although the Rocks have appealed.

With midfielder Doug Tuck out with a new hamstring problem and winger Alex Parsons missing last night’s Ryman clash with Met Police with a bruised foot, the Rocks will be far from full strength to face Merstham, who they beat 4-3 in the season’s league opener.

Pagham have similar worries.

In-form goalscorer Dan Simnonds is 50/50 after getting a knee in the back in a midweek loss at Horsham while Kieron Playle-Howard is banned and Ryan Davidson is away.

Depsite the setbacks, the neighbouring clubs’ managers are looking forward to the ties.

Bognor boss Jamie Howell said: “We say it every year and this year is no different – it would be nice to have a little run in the Cup. The rewards are obvious and the fans love it.

“But this won’t be an easy game, not by any stretch of the imagination. We’ve got some key players missing and Merstham have already given us a very good game this season.

“Having said that, we’ll hope for a big crowd and the right result.”

Lions boss Jon Tucker said: “It’s a big day for Pagham and there’s a real buzz about the place.

“You don’t need to fire up players for this sort of occasion – anyone not motivated for the FA Cup shouldn’t be a footballer.

“We’ve already beaten Redhill and Corinthian Casuals in the Cup and they’re both from higher leagues, now we need to do that again. It will be very difficult but the fans will get behind us and who knows?”

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