Chichester City manager Miles Rutherford says his side’s FA Cup third qualifying round tie at home to Isthmian premier side Enfield Town on Saturday is a massive one for the club.
The club are in new territory. This is the furthest they’ve gone in the world’s oldest cup competition since their merger with Portfield United in 2000.
Having been promoted as champions from the Southern Combination premier last year, the Lilywhites are enjoying a whirlwind of a season.
Winning four out of their opening six games, Chichester are fifth in their first Isthmian League campaign, also making history last week by winning their first ever FA Trophy game, beating Three Bridges.
And any success in this weekend’s historic FA Cup fixture would be a big reward for four years' hard work for Rutherford and his management team.
However, the Chichester boss wants his players to remain grounded ahead of the game, which could draw Oaklands Park's biggest crowd for years. He said: “As long as the players don’t get carried away, because it is, at the end of the day, just another game of football.
“But it is a massive one for the club. Financially, it will help in big ways. It’s something that the club could do with but we haven’t banked on a big run in the FA Cup or anything. It’s just a bonus at the minute.”
After beating Southern Premier outfit Hartley Wintney 1-0 in last week’s replay, City’s reward is a home tie against Isthmian Premier Division Enfield Town.
Enfield have made a fast start in the league this season, taking 17 points from their first eight games, and suffering only one blip, a 4-1 home loss to Horsham in August.
Rutherford is fully aware of how difficult an opponent they can be. He said: “It’s going to be a really tough game. Enfield are a very good side, have got lots of good players and so the only thing we can do is go into it with a good attitude and lots of hard work.
“It’s a good thing that it’s at home, but we’re taking nothing for granted. Although, one bonus for us is that they lost one of their centre-forwards, Billy Bricknell, to injury last Saturday, but no doubt, whoever they bring in, will be good players. We’re just hoping that we have a good day and they have a bad day.”
Rutherford also revealed his side have some injury worries of their own. He added: “We’re hoping to get four or five of the players back that were missing Saturday and we’ll see where we go from there. We’re hoping Scott Jones, Josh Clack, Jamie Horncastle and Rory Biggs will be back in contention this weekend which will help us out no end.”
“At the moment it’s just about trying to get people available every week to be honest. A few have been away, a few have been injured. We just don’t want to be playing Enfield under-strength.”
Either way, Rutherford has been impressed with his side’s performances. He said: “The players need to be given a lot of praise for how they’re approaching games at the minute. They’re giving everything they’ve got and it’s a good sign for future weeks.”