It’s an MFL Battle in the FA Vase

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Words by Richard Scott

Saturday’s Buildbase FA Vase Quarter-Final at Pack Meadow will have a league game feel to it, but there can be no doubt this is no ordinary fixture.

That is because Midland League side Coleshill welcome Sporting Khalsa from the same league to Warwickshire meaning that the MFL will be represented by at least one team in the semis one way or another.

But despite the feeling of familiarity to it, the Colemen’s forward Dean Rathbone believes it the match is taking on a whole different meaning.

He said: “It is. But we all know the importance of the game, we know what to expect from Khalsa because they are in the same league as us whereas in the last two games we’ve gone away from home and not really know much about them so we just took it to them.

“But with Sporting Khalsa we know what we are getting. It’s going to be a very close and competitive game and the way I see it.

“I spoke to the chairman and the manager over the last couple of days and it’s building up to be a massive game.

“We are selling quite a lot tickets, if we can get between 500-1,000 fans in then that will be great for the club and it’s put Coleshill on the map.

“We’ve been progressing as a club for the last few years and that is a credit to everybody involved with the club.”
This is unchartered territory for the Rathbone and his club as they have never gone this far in the competition before.

So we asked how was the club shaping up for what could be the biggest day in the clubs history.

He said: “There is a lot of excitement around the club and it’s building especially this week with the game being on Saturday.

“The players are looking forward the match, for me personally it’s the biggest game in my career and for many it’s the pinnacle of our careers is the FA Vase, you are never going to get to play at Wembley any other way so it’s a big game for everyone.”

It’s been a great season for Coleshill as Rathbone continued: “We are having a good year. We are on a run of 10 straight wins the club is taking each game as it comes with regards to the Vase it’s all dependent on who wants it more on the day, who goes and performs.

“Yes, we have made history, but as a club and a team, we haven’t really thought too much about that.

“We are taking each game as it comes and we are going into each game as the underdogs and we like that as we keep playing well and picking up results. Anything can happen, but we are all looking forward to Saturday.

Saturday’s winners will sit just two games away from Wembley and will reach it if they past Sporting Khalsa a two-legged semi-final awaits them.

Surely being this close to the Arch of Wembley is on the mind of the players.

Rathbone said: “You have to think about Wembley it’s a dream for any non-league player.

“How many times can you say you’ve been to Wembley. So we’ve probably all thought about.

“But in the FA Vase we are just taking each game as it comes and we have got our hardest test on Saturday in Khalsa as they are a team we know well, they are in our league.”

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About Author

Former Swansea City and Kettering Town defender who has been managing the likes of Kettering Town u18s, Rothwell Town, Desborough Town and Wellingborough Town for 33 years as well as being technical director at AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Began in non-League journalism as editor of Team Talk magazine back in the early 1990s and then as editor of Non-League Daily, joining Pitchero to set up Pitchero Non-League in January 2011. Also works for the National League.

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