Saturday, January 12, 2013
Southport may face a 400-mile round trip from Merseyside to Norfolk but they can at least travel in high spirits after a recent upturn in form.
The Blue Square Premier club, who play three levels above King’s Lynn Town, have lost just twice in their last 12 matches in all competitions.
And Tuesday’s 4-2 home league win over Lincoln City secured their first back-to-back victories of the season.
Liam Watson’s men, who lost a host of players in the summer and have had to rebuild their squad with a number of lower-level players, have stormed up to 12th in the table. It’s been a much-needed confidence boost.
The Sandgrounders will include a few former Football League players in their squad and go into the game as huge favourites. Flying winger Shaun Whalley has been identified by Lynn boss Gary Setchell as the biggest danger to his FA Trophy heroes.
Whalley has played for Chester and Accrington Stanley but now terrorises defences at non-league’s top level playing out wide, in a free role, or as a main striker.
Michael Bakare and Charlie Joyce, who are both cup-tied, will be unable to show off their talents in the last-16 tie.
Alan Moogan, rested in midweek, remains an injury doubt while Russell Benjamin, who also missed the Lincoln game, should return. Aaron Chalmers will definitely miss the huge match.
Watson has made it clear he is taking the clash seriously because he wants to win the competition. However, he admits his side must perform at The Walks this afternoon if they want to keep their own Wembley dreams alive.
A 1998 appearance at London’s most famous stadium, when Port lost 1-0 to Cheltenham Town, will seem miles away if his Haig Avenue men are not at it – and Watson knows it.
The former Preston North End striker has done his homework on a Linnets side who have exceeded all expectations by reaching the third round proper.
The part-time manager, who works as a technical instructor at Ashworth Hospital, has spoken to ex-Stamford chief Graham Drury, now at Boston United, and AFC Telford United boss Andy Sinton. The latter’s Blue Square Premier outfit were humbled 3-1 in Norfolk in the last round.
While Lynn have had to win five matches to set up this afternoon’s clash, Southport arrived in the competition at a much later date.
They won 4-0 at Stafford Rangers in the first round before seeing off fellow Conference club Macclesfield, after a replay, to reach the third round.