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Eastleigh home in on further FA Cup progress
EASTLEIGH have been blessed with another home draw in the FA Cup third qualifying round on Saturday week (October 12).
The Spitfires will entertain an Oxford City side currently experiencing vastly different fortunes to Richard Hill’s men.
While Eastleigh are sitting pretty atop the Skrill Conference South, Oxford are propping up the Conference North without a win in nine league games.
But City put their league troubles behind them on Saturday to dump out Eastleigh’s divisional rivals Maidenhead 1-0 in the second qualifying round – their first win of the season.
Like Spitfires’ owners Bridle Insurance, Hill is Oxfordshire-based, but he hasn’t watched City during his year at the Silverlake.
“I’ve no connections to City, but their manager Mike Ford and I were together at Oxford United and Mike’s assistant, Stuart Peace, managed Didcot when I was there,” he said.
“I actually spoke to Stuart before the draw was made and said I had a feeling we’d get them.
“They’re the closest team to me at our level, but I’ve not seen them play yet because I haven’t needed to. They’ve not been direct opponents of ours in the last 12 months.”
Eastleigh have another cup game tonight when Sydenhams Premier new boys Whitchurch visit in the Hampshire FA Senior Cup.
Jack Dovey, Chris Dillon and Sam Wilson – all subs for Saturday’s 4-0 FA Cup slaying of Mangotsfield – should feature and Romone Rose would have done had he not had a dental appointment.
But with two league matches to come before the FA Cup – at home to Concord Rangers on Saturday and away at Ebbsfleet next Tuesday – Hill won’t take any unnecessary risks with a squad already missing Yemi Odubade (groin) and Dan Spence (hamstring) and with Will Evans (knee) just back from injury.
“I don’t want to be disrespectful to the competition or our fans, but I have other pressing demands on me that far outweigh the Hampshire Cup,” he said.
“I appreciate supporters want us to do well in it, but I’m spinning plates here and trying to keep each one spinning until April.
“Last year we went to Fleet Spurs in the Hampshire Cup and lost Jai Reason and Michael Green for the Dover match.
“I’m aware you can pick up injuries in any game, but it compounds the issue if it’s in the county cup.
“But, by the same token, I’ve got players like Jack, Chris and Sam who need game time and an opportunity to keep themselves in my thoughts.
“Plus there’s Jamie Bulpitt, who went on and acquitted himself well against Mangotsfield, and Ryan Fuller who’s been sub a few times.
“If we’re not strong enough to beat Whitchurch with the side we put out tonight, we’ve got a problem. I’ve heard Whitchurch are lively, but our reserves should be able to cope with a Wessex side.”
FA Cup, third qualifying round, southern section (to be played on Saturday, October 12): Maidstone United v Barton Rovers or Boreham Wood, Biggleswade Town v Leatherhead, Dover Athletic v AFC Rushden & Diamonds, Chipstead v Bishop’s Stortford, Horsham v Chatham Town, Concord Rangers v Histon, Hampton & Richmond Borough v Arlesey Town, Needham Market v AFC Sudbury, Staines Town v Sittingbourne, Lewes v Sutton United, St Albans City v Hayes & Yeading United or Tonbridge Angels, Hemel Hempstead Town or Witham Town v Dulwich Hamlet, AFC Hornchurch v Wealdstone, Canvey Island or St Neots Town v FC Clacton or North Greenford United, Ebbsfleet United v Eastbourne Borough or Farnborough, Bromley v Heybridge Swifts, Grays Athletic v Daventry Town, Cirencester Town v Weymouth or Bognor Regis Town, Weston Super Mare v Brislington, Eastleigh v Oxford City, Hartley Wintney v Clevedon Town, Bristol Manor Farm or Bridgwater Town v Bath City, Poole Town v Hungerford Town, Didcot Town v Shortwood United, Yate Town v Gloucester City or Havant & Waterlooville.
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