‘Havant won’t be taking anything for granted’ insists Cray Valley Paper Mills boss Kevin Watson ahead of FA Cup first round tie

Cray Valley PM manager Kevin Watson joked the biggest incentive behind creating more FA Cup history when they face Hawks is knowing for certain when they will next play again.

Thursday, 5th November 2020, 11:22 am
Ade Yusuff and Francis Babalola both scored for Cray Valley in their shock FA Cup win at Maidenhead. Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images.

In strange circumstances, the club head to Westleigh Park with their Isthmian South East League currently suspended for a month and unable to train ahead of Sunday's first round proper tie.

Cray are one of 10 'non-elite' - playing at step three or below - sides still in the competition who have been granted permission to play in the first round despite a suspension being placed on them to play following a national lockdown.

Effectively, it means Watson is preparing to send his side out against the Hawks for the biggest match in his and most of his players' careers unaware of when they will back out on the pitch.

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But one way of knowing for certain is to spring another FA Cup shock and reach the second round with ties to be played on the last weekend of the month.

And Watson said that will provide an added incentive on Sunday.

‘It’s new grounds for the club in the sense that they’ve not progressed to this stage of the competition before,' said Watson.

‘It’s a good occasion for the club.

‘Obviously, there will be a break in play from the league and things so we’ll go there and it’s an incentive to get through because it means another game in the forthcoming weeks.

‘The training venue that we’ve got we’re unable to use because they’ve shut everything down.

'It’s not an excuse culture at our club, it’s not something that I’m looking to throw at anybody.

‘It is what it is, we’ve just got to get on with it really.

‘I don’t feel that it will hinder us. I’ll tell you afterwards if it’s hindered us.'

Watson feels his side are fully deserving of a shot at taking another big scalp after a tough route to make it to the first round proper for the first time.

They beat National League Maidenhead United in the previous round, coming from two goals down to win 3-2, Francis Babalola hitting an injury-time winner.

But the Cray boss admitted the Hawks will be even more wary of his side following that result.

‘It’s a game of football. I want the players to be able to perform and it’s an opportunity to showcase talents and show they can compete against levels above,' added Watson.

‘It’s fine margins in football as some of the players we’ve got have played higher and some haven’t played higher.

‘It’s a statement of intent for them to show what they’re capable of.

‘The fact that our last game in the competition was against Maidenhead means Havant won’t be taking anything for granted, and I wouldn’t expect them to do so.'