12:00am Friday 11th October 2013
Oxford City manager Mike Ford is confident his side can pull off an upset as they travel to Skrill South leaders Eastleigh in the FA Cup third qualifying round tomorrow, writes Matthew Bruce.
City have won their last two matches and Ford says they have nothing to fear from the tie
. “We’re really looking forward to it,” he said.
“If the draw had been made three or four weeks ago we might have been a bit apprehensive about it, but now we just can’t wait to get on that coach and cause an upset.”
Backed by former Oxford United sponsors Bridle Insurance, Eastleigh have ambitious plans to reach the Football League.
Among their ranks are former U’s players Damian Batt, Yemi Odubade and Craig McAllister, while the side is managed by former Oxford midfielder Richard Hill.
Hill is a familiar figure to Ford, who briefly played alongside him at the start of his Oxford career.
“I have spoken to him a couple of times,” said Ford.
“I played with him at Leicester and at Oxford and he was Stuart’s (Peace, assistant manager) coach at Didcot so he knows what we’re all about and he’s familiar to us.
“During the game there will be no quarter asked or given and we both desperately want to beat each other.
But we’ll have a beer afterwards, knowing that the better side has won.” And Ford is confident that his players have what it takes to earn a place in the hat for the fourth qualifying round draw.
He said: “I can only pick the team and sort the tactics. After that, it’s up to the players.
“It’s very player-driven because if they do well they don’t get dropped, but if not then I obviously I have to look to make changes.
“A lot of teams go to Eastleigh and try to sit back and soak up some pressure and then try to hit them on the break.
“But the important thing to remember is that we are at the same level as them.
“They’re not Real Madrid or Barcelona, they’re a very decent Conference South outfit and we’re a good Conference North side.”
City will be without the cup-tied Chris Palmer but are boosted by the return of Marvin Robinson, Andy Ballard and Mark Scott to the bench. TOMORROW’S TEAM
Oxford City (v Eastleigh, away): from Francoz, Benjamin, Henderson, Willmott, Stonehouse, McNish, Pond, Malone, Winters, Basham, Cook, Symons, Williams, Learoyd, Clifton, Robinson, Scott, Ballard.
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