Norwich United hoping to remain in Wembley race at Ascot

Greg Crane is unavailable for Norwich United's trip to Ascot United in the FA Vase fifth round. Pict

Greg Crane is unavailable for Norwich United's trip to Ascot United in the FA Vase fifth round. Picture by Daniel Hambury/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Daniel Hambury/Focus Images Ltd

Guarding against complacency will be key if Norwich United are to continue their record-breaking FA Vase run this afternoon.

The Planters head to Berkshire to take on Ascot United in the fifth round, looking to reach the quarter-finals and take another step closer to a Wembley final.

Having thrashed Kent side Ashford United away from home in the previous round and sitting eight points clear at the top of the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division table, United could easily get carried away with their success so far.

Manager Damian Hilton and his assistant John Edridge will make sure his players keep their feet firmly planted on the ground though.

'Ascot have got a good defensive record, they've not scored the most but John (Edridge) went and watched them last week in a cup game so we know more about them than we did Ashford,' Hilton said.


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'We can't even think about the last round, this will be a completely different test and I should think it will be a lot more difficult.

'Ashford in the last round was one of those games where everything went according to plan for us and it's not going to be like that again.

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'They're a big, quite physical side, with two big strikers who are six-foot-plus, so we are going to be asked some different questions this time and we have got to come up with the answers.'

The Yellamen sit fifth in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division and have won three and drawn one of their last five matches in all competitions.

The club attracted over 750 spectators when they reached the quarter-finals of the Vase two seasons ago and are hoping to improve on the 270 which attended their 4-2 defeat of Colliers Wood United in the last round.

The club's Racecourse Ground is based between Ascot Racecourse and Legoland, near Windsor, and Hilton is relishing the Yellamen giving the game the big build-up.

'They're advertising the game quite a lot and saying it's the biggest game they've had for a couple of years, since they got to the quarter-finals,' the former Wroxham boss continued.

'Hopefully if the weather's a bit warmer then that'll bring out a few more because it would be nice for our lads to play in front of a big crowd.'

The Planters will be without centre-back Greg Crane and striker Ben Thompson, who has scored 20 goals in 30 games this season, due to unavailability.

Hilton is confident his squad has the strength in depth required though, saying: 'It's a massive blow for us but we have other players who will come in and do a good job. We always said we wanted not just a good 11 but a good 16 or 17 and we have got that this year.

'It is unfortunate when players miss games like this but I'm quite confident we've got the players who can do what we want them to.

'Ben Thompson and Greg Crane are two exceptional players for us who probably would have started for us, so they will be missed, but we have players who are more than capable of taking their place.'

He will have the firepower of top scorer Matt Blake though, who has scored 32 goals in 31 appearances already this campaign.

'He's the one who teams will look at because on paper he's the one who has scored so many goals. He's having a tremendous season for us,' Hilton added.

'He scored two in the last round and he's scored in pretty much every game for us, and hopefully he'll do the same again but the thing he has been better at is scoring goals when we are not necessarily on top, which might be the case at Ascot, when we might have to defend for long periods.'

Follow live updates from Norwich United's Vase clash through the non-league football live blog at www.pinkun.com from 2pm.

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