Simon Weaver targets Portsmouth scalp and place for Harrogate in FA Cup history books

Simon Weaver is keen for his Harrogate side to reserve a place in the FA Cup’s giant-killing history books.

Thursday, 7th November 2019, 12:19 pm
Simon Weaver. Picture: Matt Kirkham

The non-league side play host to Pompey on Monday night, with the Town’s 4,000-capacity Wetherby Road ground the stage for the first-round tie which will be broadcast live on BT Sport.

Forty-one places separate the two teams in the English football pyramid, with the Blues currently 13th in League One following Tuesday night’s 4-1 win against Southend and Harrogate seventh in the National League after their 4-2 loss at Eastleigh last time out.

Meanwhile, the visit of the Blues – who last won the Cup in 2008, before returning to the final in 2010 – represents the highest-ranked opposition ever faced by Harrogate in a competitive match.

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Weaver was present at Fratton Park on Tuesday night to see at first hand what his side will be up against.

He witnessed Kenny Jackett’s side record their biggest win of the season as they disposed of Southend – now managed by Pompey Cup-winning captain Sol Campbell.

But regardless of what he saw, the Harrogate boss is well aware of the history of the competition and the shocks that happen.

And he wants his Town side to follow the likes of the Hawks (4-2 v Swansea in 2007), Wrexham (2-1 v Arsenal in 1992), and Sutton United (2-1 v Coventry in 1989) in producing an historic upset.

Weaver said: ‘We want to enjoy the occasion and have no regrets.

‘The attitude will be there.

‘We’re all wanting to embrace the occasion and do ourselves justice.

‘On any one-off occasion, anything can happen.

‘You’ve seen it every year in the competition.

‘The history of the Cup is that there are one or two upsets each year.

‘It only takes one or two players to have a bad day and the underdogs to be on it.

‘Suddenly, it redresses the balance between the two sides.

‘In a league season, the table doesn’t lie because it tells the full story of consistency levels.

‘In the FA Cup, one-off occasions you can never really tell.’

Harrogate last played in the first round of the Cup during the 2012-13 season, when they beat then League Two Torquay United 1-0 at Plainmore.

That set up a second-round tie against Hastings – a match-up which eventually ended their Cup dream following a 5-4 defeat on penalties in a replay.

The visit of the Blues will surpass both those occasions.

But Weaver believes his side’s victory over Brackley Town in the 2018 Conference North play-off represents a more important game.

‘Portsmouth are the highest opposition we’ve ever faced and the club have ever faced,’ added Weaver.

‘Playing against a team such as Portsmouth with all their historical success and ex-FA Cup winners as well, it brings a lot of prestige to the tie for us.

‘It’s not probably as important as the Conference North final to actually break that ceiling and play at our highest level.

‘But in terms of the prestige of the event, being on television and also welcoming ex-FA Cup winners, it is the biggest game in the club’s history.’