Batch ready for whatever Wembley pitch throws at him

Paddy DavittWroxham manager David Batch is confident Norfolk's FA Vase finalists will be fully prepared ahead of next month's Whitley Bay showpiece - which includes handling the notorious Wembley pitch.Paddy Davitt

Wroxham manager David Batch is confident Norfolk's FA Vase finalists will be fully prepared ahead of next month's Whitley Bay showpiece - which includes handling the notorious Wembley pitch.

Batch got a first hand look at the maligned playing surface in Sunday's FA Cup semi-final between Portsmouth and Tottenham when Pompey striker Frederic Piquionne cashed in on Michael Dawson's slip to set the south coast side on their way to victory.

Spurs' chief Harry Redknapp later added his voice to the growing criticism of the pitch, with FA officials planning to meet turf experts next week to thrash out a long term solution.

"I was making a few notes and one of the first things I wrote down after about 10 minutes was 'wear long studs' because players were slipping over," said Batch. "Sure enough later in the game `Dawson goes over and Pompey score from it.


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"That might not be entirely down to the pitch but I recall Paul Cook slipped over at Whitehawk in the first leg of the semi-final when he had a chance to really put us in the driving seat. I discovered afterwards that he hadn't been wearing the longer studs so obviously that is one area we have to look at because we must be totally prepared - whether the pitch is replaced or not."

Batch's meticulous planning includes a pre-FA Vase visit to the national stadium and a training base at Watford FC.

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"I'd like us to go down on a stadium tour to get a full experience and make sure we have no surprises on the day," he said.

"Hopefully that would give us a chance to get on the pitch. The players will also go and watch a bit of the FA Trophy final the day before. Not so much the game itself but the ceremony, anthem and whatever else they need to do.

"We'll be training the day before at Watford and that is all part of being fully acclimatised, so we just focus on the game.

"We're in the process of getting all our arrangements done by this weekend - things like when we travel down, tickets for the players, the mascots, plans for the wives and family. I want all that out of the way to give us nearly three weeks of a countdown to prepare with no distractions."

Batch and his coaching team will also do their homework on FA Vase holders Whitley Bay, with the Wroxham manager an interested spectator at Bay's midweek goalless league draw with Ashington.

"Hopefully I'd like to see them a couple of times along with my coaches," he said.

"It's important to see them, not so much to look at their players but how they set up to counteract that with our players. We watched Whitehawk seven times. I had four scouting reports and it made them sound like Real Madrid but the three times myself and my coaching team went and watched them in person we could see they had weaknesses we could exploit. It's really about giving the players as much information as we can.

Tickets for Wroxham's FA Vase final Wembley on Sunday, May 9 are priced �25 and �12.50 for under-16s and supporters aged 60 and over.

For a full list of outlets selling tickets along with Wembley travel information visit wroxhamfc.com or call Trafford Park direct on 01603 783538. Dolphins Autos (01603 400300) and Skyplane Travel in Norwich (01603 424010) plan to run coaches to the game and match tickets can also be purchased from those outlets.

Wroxham suffered a disappointing 3-0 defeat atStowmarket in their latestRidegon League fixture last night.

With a mixture of regulars and squad players on duty, the Yachtsmen were below par and could have few complaints about the result. Stowmarket's goals came from Matt Ryland (35), Ben Cranfield (40) and Martin Carver (70).

Wroxham will now be hoping to bounce back when they play host to league leaders CRC tomorrow.

In last night's DivisionOne encounter Fakenham were beaten 3-2 at Godmanchester.

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