FA Cup is a dream

A good run in the most prestigious cup competition in the country is every non-League player’s dream, according to Maidstone manager Jay Saunders.

His side are one of the highest-ranked teams in the First Round Qualifying, sitting atop the Isthmian League Premier Division with nine wins from 10.

They face Littlehampton Town, who are top of the Sussex County League Division One, boasting an unbeaten start to the season with 22 goals scored in the process.

Maidstone Utd v Littlehampton Town

The FA Cup
First Round Qualifying
3pm, Saturday 13 September 2014
The Gallagher Stadium, Maidstone United FC
Winning club will receive £3,000

Although Saunders recognises that his team are favourites on paper, he is not underestimating the threat that Littlehampton possess.

He said: “We’ve watched them. They are a good side and score plenty of goals.

“They have nothing to lose. There is no pressure on their shoulders and they will bring a good following with them.

“However, we are playing well at the moment and if we turn up and play our best we should win.”

Maidstone have a full strength squad going into the tie – a far cry from last season when Saunders revealed that they frequently had to rely on younger players.

He added: “Last season our squad wasn’t really suited to The Cup; at times we had to bring in a couple of the lads from the academy when we had injuries.”

They did, however, manage an impressive seventh-place finish in their first season in the Isthmian League.

They also managed to secure some silverware, beating AFC Sudbury in the final of the Robert Dyas League Cup.

The club now seem to be in a better position to challenge on all fronts.

Saunders said: “Our squad this year is much, much stronger, there are three or four good players left out every week, so selecting the team is a tough call.”

The romance of The Cup is certainly not dead in Kent, and Saunders, who played in The Cup for Margate, knows how inspiring it can be.

He said: “Players at this level love playing in The Cup; it’s a dream for some of them.

“The fans love it as well, we’ve had great support this year and a good Cup run would be great for them.”

Littlehampton are not without FA Cup pedigree, though. Their best Cup run came in 1990-91 when they reached the First Round.