Football: Stratford told to follow Cup record run with bid for glory; FA VASE.
Lennie Derby wants his Stratford Town side to follow up their record-breaking FA Cup run with more tales of glory when they embark on the FA Vase trail tomorrow.
Despite bowing out of the Cup in the first appearance in the third qualifying round last Saturday, the history-making progress created a buzz of excitement around the club to ease the gloom following their indifferent league form in the Travel Factory Alliance.
The manager is keen to build on the momentum when they turn their attention to the minnows' own FA Cup, the Vase, at Nottingham side Sutton Town.
'We were not going to win the FA Cup but the FA Vase is a competition where we can realistically look to make progress,' Derby said. 'The Alliance is among the highest level of leagues who can enter the Vase so hopefully we can continue from the Cup performances.'
There would be a huge chunk of irony should Stratford - whose best Vase run dates back to a fourth-round appearance in 1975-76 - make 2004-05 a year to remember in the Vase.
Derby is the first to admit the club has failed to perform in knock-out competitions since he arrived, despite the Masons Lane side featuring as titlechasers year after year. Yet this season could prove to be the reverse. The high hopes of being pre-season title favourites have faded into a season of transition but the Cup win over FA Trophy holders Hednesford Town proved they can beat anybody on their day.
However, injury will again force veteran defender Nigel Niblett on the sidelines after he recovers from a hamstring injury while work commitments rule out striker Dennis Bailey. Causeway United want to cash in on a new-look strikeforce to help the Black Country club pay for their season of football.
Halesowen-based Causeway, having been deprived of four strikers last week, will have fitagain Chris Busby and recruit Adam Chester, signed from Oldbury United, in contention for tomorrow's FA Vase firstround tie with Alliance rivals Bridgnorth Town at the Grove.
But the result will not only be measured in goals but in pounds, with the winners receiving a cheque for pounds 800.
Manager Alan Moore said: 'The prize-money for the winners is pounds 800 and to us that would be a godsend. That's pounds 800 we would not need to worry about finding to pay for the team this season.
'We don't pay the players but running a club is an expensive business, especially for us because we have to rent the ground from Halesowen Town and we don't have our social club.
'Prize-money is a big carrot for clubs like ourselves. We have already earned pounds 2,000 in the FA Cup and Vase so far and that's a massive bonus.'
Causeway, who reached the third round in 2002-03, will also be boosted with the return of Lee Bullimore after an operation to repair a broken nose.