Norwich United aim to extend club’s best ever FA Vase run at high-flying Ampthill Town

Adam Bennett, pictured in action during Norwich United's 3-0 win against Erith Town in the third round of the  FA Vase, is set to return for the Planters at Ampthill Town. Photo: Bill Smith Adam Bennett, pictured in action during Norwich United's 3-0 win against Erith Town in the third round of the FA Vase, is set to return for the Planters at Ampthill Town. Photo: Bill Smith

Saturday, January 18, 2014
6:30 AM

Extending Norwich United’s best ever FA Vase run looks likely to be very difficult, but Planters manager Damian Hilton is refusing to write off his side’s chances.

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United are the only remaining Norfolk side in this year’s Vase and travel to Bedfordshire to take on high-flying Ampthill Town.

The Amps are four points clear at the top of the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division, which is the same step of the non-league football pyramid, step five, as the Thurlow Nunn Premier.

Ampthill have not yet played a competitive game in 2014 but finished last year with three straight home wins in the league - and have a remarkable recent record.

They have won 15 of their last 18 matches and won 7-0 three times since that run started in October, scoring 66 goals and conceding just 13.

The Planters, on the other hand, have lost both their matches so far this month to bring an end to an impressive four-match winning streak during December.

Their contrasting league form is not deterring Hilton though.

“When you get to this stage of the competition it is all about what happens on the day really,” the Planters boss said.

“I’ve played in games in the Vase where we have played really well, been on top with lots of chances and not taken them, so you need a little bit of luck at this stage as well.

“Every team is going to be half decent at this stage of the competition. They will obviously be favourites because they are at home and with the form that they’re are in as well.

“We did plan to go and watch them but with the weather recently, the two times we were going to see were called off.”

Norwich have already progressed the furthest the club has ever previously managed in the Vase by reaching the fourth round and are looking to extend that further by making it into the hat for the fifth round draw.

The Amps reached the fifth round for the first time in their history last season and are looking to repeat that achievement.

“They are obviously doing really well because they are top of the league and their home form is especially exceptional, so we need to make ourselves as hard to beat as possible,” Hilton continued.

“There’s not too much pressure on us so our lads are looking forward to it. We will just be trying to knit things together on the day, give a good account of ourselves, and if we can do that there is no reason we can’t win.”

United lost 2-0 at mid-table rivals Brantham Athletic on Saturday, to follow a 1-0 home defeat to 12th-placed Stanway Rovers the previous week.

Hilton is boosted this afternoon by the return of winger Adam Bennett, who scored a penalty in the 3-0 win against Erith Town at Plantation Park in the third round, and midfielder Ben Jones to his squad, so is hoping to see an improved performance from his side at Ampthill.

“We had a fantastic December but then have lost two games,” the former Wroxham boss added. “Saturday was disappointing because we didn’t play very well but then the home game against Stanmore we did all-right but didn’t take our chances.

“But when you go into the Vase and league form is all brushed aside, it is literally how good you are on the day.

“We had a few injuries on Saturday but everyone is available so we have got to go there with a good attitude and hope we perform on the day.”

Related links

Norwich United progress to fourth round of FA Vase with 3-0 win against Erith Town

Photo gallery: Norwich United boss praises players after reaching fourth round of FA Vase for first time in club’s history

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