Michael Birmingham's admiration for Brockenhurst boss Pat McManus with Horndean handed 'toughest' FA Vase draw
Horndean manager Michael Birmingham says his side could not have been handed a tougher FA Vase draw as they get set to welcome high-flying Wessex League Premier Division rivals Brockenhurst to Five Heads Park.
The Deans entertain a Brock team currently sitting pretty at the top of the division for a second round qualifying tie on Saturday.
Birmingham lauded the job Brockenhurst boss Pat McManus continues to do at the New Forest Club and is well aware of the threats they'll possess - chiefly through leading Wessex Premier goalscorer Silvano Obeng.
Prolific Obeng, dual-signed from AFC Totton, has banged in 16 league goals in just 10 appearances this term as Brock currently sit at the summit.
But Horndean have made a promising start to the campaign themselves, winning five of their opening seven league outings to sit third in the table.
And Birmingham believes the FA Vase tie with Brockenhurst, who were dumped out of the competition by eventual semi-finalists US Portsmouth last term, will provide them with a good idea of how good they are at this moment in time.
The Deans boss said: ‘It’s the toughest draw we could have. We’re playing the best team in the Wessex Premier at the moment - the table doesn’t lie.
‘We’ve got the toughest draw, we’ve got the best team in the Wessex Prem at this moment in time, without a doubt. They’ve also got the leading goalscorer (Silvano Obeng) as well, so it’s a tough one.
‘We’re going to look at it as a little marker. They’re (Brockenhurst) top of the table, they’re top of the table for a reason, they’re flying, they’re a good side and we’ll know how far away we are now come Saturday.’
Birmingham revealed he had a chat with Brockenhurst opposite number McManus in the build-up to the tie earlier this week.
The Horndean boss is full of admiration for McManus, who he says should be managing at a higher level than the Wessex Premier.
Birmingham said: ‘To me, the manager (Pat McManus) is outstanding - I think he should be managing higher.
‘I think what he’s done at Brockenhurst with basically a shoestring budget has been absolutely fantastic and it deserves a lot more credit. He should be managing at a higher level.
‘He’s a gentleman, they’re going to be a tough, tough team to play against, they’re going to be drilled, organised, pace going forward and we all know about the main main (Silvano) - the striker who’s banged in 16 goals already.’