THE 2019-20 Buildbase FA Vase has reached the last 64 stage – and three Bristol clubs remain in the shake-up aiming to keep their Wembley dreams alive this weekend, writes Simon Parkinson.
Saturday sees Bitton entertaining Cribbs in a mouthwatering all-Toolstation Premier Division affair at WDS Services Stadium on Bath Road (3pm), while our own Gloucestershire FA 3G facility at Oaklands Park in Almondsbury stages the Roman Glass St George-Warminster Town tie (Sunday, 2pm) in another collision involving two Western League competitors.
With so much at stake - £1,125 more money from the prize pot is also on offer to the winners – both games are sure to attract big crowds, not least the one at Bath Road first up on Saturday where Tony Beecham’s Cribbs will not only be looking to advance to the fourth round proper but they have a score to settle too following an inauspicious last encounter with their hosts in league competition back in August.
Beecham stressed: “They won 6-0 at our place then so of course we’re out to avenge that. Bitton were good that day but we were going through the change as quite a few players had left us and some of last year’s lads just weren’t doing it. And individual mistakes cost us in that one.
“Although I’m not entirely satisfied, things have improved for us. Bitton are clearly favourites but who ever knows what will happen in one-off cup games? We’ll certainly go there looking to upset the applecart.”
Beecham’s opposite number in the Bitton dugout, Dan Langdon, said of the tie: “It’s massive. Cribbs are arguably one of the best footballing sides in our league and I’m under no illusions as to how hard it will be.
“I’m sure their manager (Tony Beecham) was disappointed with how they started their season. Tony’s ambitious and he’s a proper football man who gets his teams well drilled and organised.
“He’ll no doubt see the Vase as a means to continue getting things back on track there.”
Roman Glass assistant manager Liam Greening, meanwhile, is urging his own Vase hopefuls to put on their Sunday best and “take nothing for granted” as they confront a Warminster Town team perched a modest 12th in the Toolstation First Division standings.
The Glass No.2 to boss Andy Gurney warned: “Warminster are on a good run in the league below us and they showed what they can do in beating Longwell Green on penalties on Tuesday night in the Les Phillips Cup.
“And they must have something about them to reach the third round of the Vase.
“We lost 2-0 at home to Malmesbury Victoria, who also play a league below us (in Hellenic One West) in the Vase last year and they gave us a good game again at theirs this season, in the Vase once more, before we came through 5-3 winners.
“In the last round of this year’s competition we managed to just squeeze past another team performing a level beneath us, Petersfield Town, of Wessex League Division One, 2-1.
“These games are like cup finals to the underdogs and Warminster will be right up for it so we will have to match that if we’re to keep our run in the competition going.
“It’s just as well we have a big squad too as we could be without eight players for the game due to injuries to Sam Oakley and Ken Oni, suspensions for Matt Guy, James Kenway and Steve Fitzpatrick and cup-tied players Josh Cann, Troy Simpson and possibly Coty Simpson.”