ROGER HERRIDGE is hoping some ‘magic of the cup’ can carry his depleted Binfield side through as they look to make history this weekend.
The Moles host Southern League Cirencester Town on Saturday (3pm), looking to book their spot in the FA Cup third qualifying round for the first time since the club formed in 1892.
The task appeared tough from the outset for Binfield, taking on a side who currently sit ninth in the league above Herridge’s men. Cirencester have also already defeated AFC Stoneham 7-0 to reach this stage, the same outfit who dumped the Moles out of the FA Vase 3-2 on Saturday.
But Herridge’s problems have deepened with key duo Jeff Brown and captain James Knight both suspended while Sean Moore and Danny Horscroft are both unavailable.
Star striker Ian Davies also remains sidelined through injury, as does Jack Thomson-Wheeler, while Jemel Johnson and Tafari Downes are rated as doubtful having come off with knocks during the Stoneham game.
“I’ve got to be honest, I’ve got a few worries ahead of the game,” Herridge told The Wokingham Paper.
“Let’s just say we won’t be at full strength come Saturday.
“But we’ll work to try and put a competitive side together and see where it takes us.
“Sometimes when you don’t expect a great deal, you surprise yourself.
“We’ve had Cirencester watched and they’re a really, really good side.
“They’re experienced and they’ve got a centre-forward (Ben Whitehead) who I believe is on a contract so that tells you everything you need to know really.
“It’s a tough game and I’m sure it’s a game that they’re expecting to win.
“But we certainly aren’t going to just turn up and make the numbers up.”
In the previous round against Buckland Athletic, Herridge called on some favours to draft in Bracknell Town duo Jamie McClurg and Dave Hancock on dual-registration deals.
The pair played a full part as Binfield won 3-0 to set up this weekend’s £9,000 showdown with Cirencester, but the Moles manager says it will be trickier to bolster the squad this weekend.
“It’s difficult because the fact is, sides that are left in the FA Cup won’t want you to use the dual-registered players that are going to get their players cup-tied,” said Herridge.
“Bracknell Town have got a game this weekend and their priority is Bracknell Town.
“I’ve got Josh Howell on a dual-register with Thatcham and Josh will be in the squad on Saturday. We thank Danny Robinson (Thatcham boss) for helping us out with that one.
“But we’ll see what happens over the next few days.
“We’re certainly not going into the game with the best preparation.
“Hopefully JJ and Tafari will come through, but as it stands they are big doubts.
“There aren’t too many teams at our level that will win games when they’ve got six or seven first choice players on the sidelines and that’s a fact.”
With a depleted squad to choose from, Herridge will be relying on some of the fabled ‘magic of the cup’ which helps lower league sides cause shocks in the FA Cup every year.
And while the situation is far from ideal, those who feature on Saturday will have the chance to make history as the first ever Binfield players to win a second qualifying round game.
“That will be something we’ll remind them come 3 o’clock on Saturday,” said Herridge.
“Hopefully we’ll have a good crowd. At the end of the day, it’s the romance of the FA Cup and our games have been well supported.
“Who knows, but certainly when you’ve got key players missing it makes it difficult for any team to win a game.”
He added: “Ideally I’d have probably liked to have gone on a little adventure and gone to play a side from the Conference South away from home in front of a big crowd and enjoy the experience.
“But Cirencester at home, they’re a side that aspires to win the league at their level this year.
“They’re well-resourced, they’ve got some good players. Ben Whitehead will probably be the best forward we’ve come up against all season and we’re going into the game with some headaches.
“We’ll see what Saturday brings.”