Flackwell Heath boss Marcus Richardson: It would be ‘criminal’ to underestimate FA Vase heroes US Portsmouth
Flackwell Heath manager Marcus Richardson insists it would be 'criminal' for him or his squad to underestimate US Portsmouth in their FA Vase quarter-final showdown on Saturday.
But the Heathens boss insisted his main focus remains on making sure his team claim another away success rather worrying too much about USP
USP are the only step 6 side remaining in the FA Vase at the last-eight stage.
An incredible run to the quarter-finals has seen them defeat higher division opposition in five of the six rounds they've come through.
The fully deserved 3-1 last-16 win at much-fancied Western League Premier Division Tavistock last weekend was their best in the competition to date.
In fact, USP boss Glenn Turnbull reckons The Lambs took his men lightly and were made to regret it.
But Richardson - a former Lincoln and Yeovil striker - is adamant his team will not make the same mistake with a place in the last-four at stake at The Victory Stadium.
‘You could be four divisions below but there’s a reason why you’re at this stage of the competition,’ said Richardson.
‘Everybody at this stage of the competition is going to be a team who is very worthy of playing divisions above, probably.
‘I’m not going to disrespect no team whatsoever, that would be criminal of me.
‘That means nothing to me (USP playing in step 6).
‘They’ve got this far for a reason, they never got this far because they weren’t a good team, they got this far because they’re a good team.
‘Will I take them lightly? No, I won’t. I’ll take them as if they’re from a team from even levels above to a certain degree.
‘Anyone who gets this far is more than capable of playing levels higher so I would never disrespect them. Because they’re in step 6 we’re going to walk over them? No way. They’re in the quarter-finals for a reason.'
Flackwell head into this weekend's historic tie on the back of their own stunning away victory.
They dumped Tavistock's Western League rivals Plymouth Parkway out of the competition with a shock 4-2 last-16 win.
It was the sixth time in seven rounds Flackwell have won away from home in the Vase this season.
Among their scalps were Chatham Town, who had won 10 of their 11 Southern Counties East League games in 2020/21 and gave three divisions higher Hawks some tricky moments in an FA Cup at Westleigh Park.
They also won on penalties at Lancing, who boast the best points-per-game record in the Southern Combination League over the last two seasons.
And Parkway possessed the best PPG record of any club in the 14 step 5 leagues since the start of 2019/20.
Though recognising USP will provide tricky opponents, Richardson will be telling his players to concentrate on their own performance.
He said: ‘I don’t walk into the game thinking about US Portsmouth, I worry about what my team is going to do.
'I go in there thinking how we are going to represent ourselves, how are we going to show the representation of what Flackwell is about.
'My team knows what’s in hand, they’ve been doing it for quite a long time, we were top of the league before the season ended.
‘We know what we’ve got in hand and we know the criteria.
‘If we go out with that same criteria and Portsmouth are the better side and they go through, then I hold my hands up to US Portsmouth.'