South coast gripped for Cup fever

Pompey boss Andy Awford
Pompey boss Andy Awford
Stuart O'Keefe. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey midfielder will relish facing former club

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The south coast is bracing itself for a big FA Cup weekend, after three leading local sides were handed home draws in the first round.

Pompey were paired at home to Conference side Aldershot Town, while Gosport Borough will host League One outfit Colchester United at Privett Park.

The Hawks face Canvey Island in a replay tonight but both clubs know there is a huge incentive to get through as the winners will entertain Preston North End.

Blues boss Andy Awford said: ‘I’m happy with the draw. It’s a home game against a Hampshire side but we certainly won’t be taking them lightly.

‘I’m also really pleased for our local non-league friends.

‘I just think it’s fantastic for the area that Gosport and Hawks – if they can get through their replay – have got big ties against some proper clubs.’

Borough manager Alex Pike said: ‘We wanted to play against league opposition.

‘We have got that and we’re at home so we’re really pleased.

‘I was watching at home with a few friends and there was a big cheer when we were pulled out.

‘It’s great that we were third out – we must have won a good prize in the FA raffle!

‘Colchester are obviously a very good side. We will have a lot of planning to do but we will have a chance.’

Hawks boss Lee Bradbury knows his men must focus on getting through their replay.

He said: ‘We had to wait until almost the end of the draw but when we finally came out it was worth waiting for.

‘But we must make sure we don’t take our eye off the ball.

‘It is a big incentive for both clubs to get through and Canvey will want it just as badly as we do.

‘Preston are second in League One and will bring a lot of fans.

‘As a manager and a player you always want to test yourselves against the best.

‘It is a good opportunity for a big pay day which means both teams will be up for it tonight.’

For Pompey, the draw represents a good chance for progress as they attempt to end a four-year FA Cup curse.

The Blues have not a won a fixture in the competition since their shock semi-final success over Spurs back in 2010, with exits at the first hurdle in each of the past four seasons.

After third-round defeats at Brighton and Chelsea, Pompey have since bowed out in the first round against Notts County and Stevenage.

Awford added: ‘We will be favourites as we are the team from the higher division.

‘Aldershot will bring a few fans and it will be a good atmosphere at Fratton Park.

‘Adam Webster and Dan Butler have been on loan there and we’ve got a very good relationship with Aldershot. We’re looking forward to it.’

The ties will be played across the weekend of November 7-10.