Scott Dundas, manager of North West Counties League Premier Division club Norton United, says tomorrow’s FA Vase….
….showdown with holders Dunston UTS is the biggest game in his club’s history.
The Community Drive outfit are hoping for their biggest crowd of the season, bettering the 204 who saw them knock Stoke City out of the Staffs Senior Cup.
Norton have won four of their last five games, and now have their sights on a Third Round win against the favourites from the Ebac Northern League.
Dundas said: “I think this is the biggest game the club has ever played. We actually got to the fourth round last year, but to get the holders at home makes this a bigger occasion.
“There’s no doubt we are the underdogs. You only have to look at the odds to win the Vase, Dunston are 16/1 to retain it, while we are 200/1.
“Mind you, I’ve told the lads to get their money on us because we’ll be more like 10/1 if we win on Saturday.”
Norton will be without former Alsager Town centre half Ben Clarkson, who is cup-tied, and winger Niall Green, who is suspended.
However, full-backs Tom Fogg and Sam Bradbury are available after suspension.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Richard Brandon and central defender Richard Smith have both been nominated in the North West Counties Premier League player-of-the-month awards for November.
Both will be crucial tomorrow, particularly captain Smith, who was part of the Nantwich Town team who won the Vase in 2006 under current Crewe Alexandra boss Steve Davis. Dundas added: “Richard still has a ribbon from the Vase trophy that year. He brought it along to our Vase games last year and has done the same this time.
“It’s become a bit of a running joke as he keeps producing this ribbon in the dressing room and telling the lads all about winning it.
“Both he and Richard Brandon have been brilliant for us, as has Dan Brown up front.
“Dan has been working his socks off for us and scored the last-minute goal to get us through the last round.”
That win, at Deeping Rangers, earned Norton £1,200 in FA prize money. A further £1,500 will be theirs if they can win tomorrow to book a place in the fourth round.
Smith and the rest of the team will have to be at the top of their game, but Dundas isn’t writing off their chances. He’s also predicting an open game.
He explained: “It’s a tall order, but we always like a challenge and I’ll set the team to go out and win.
“That’s how I like my teams to play, maybe because I was never much good at defending as a player.
“I would always prefer us to win 5-4 than 1-0, so we will be giving it a good go.”
Dunston will be hoping for a happy end to an awful week. On Monday, their 200-seat stand was destroyed by arsonists, causing £20,000 in damage.