Wantage wary of shock

Wantage Town manager Gary Ackling hopes success in The FA Cup will help rectify a sluggish start to life in a new division.

The Oxfordshire club gained promotion to the Southern League Division 1 South and West last season, but they enter Friday’s Preliminary Round tie against Kidlington fully aware that a shock may be on the cards.

Ackling said: “My record in the preliminaries is pretty appalling and, from a neutral point of view, this tie has got upset written all over it.

Wantage Town v Kidlington

The FA Cup
Preliminary Round
7.45pm, Friday 29 August 2014
Alfredian Park, Wantage Town FC
Winners receive £1,925 from FA prize fund

“We enter a round later this year due to promotion, which from a financial point of view denies you a chance of a little bit of extra revenue – that’s just the way it is.

“We’re lacking in confidence, having lost 12 players from the side that won the league last season for various reasons – such as not wanting to do the travelling.

“It has been a bit of rebuilding job for us, and we’re nothing like where we should be at this stage of the season.”

Becoming a Step 4 club has been a baptism of fire for Ackling and his side but the self-employed painter and decorator hopes that the acquisition of Curtis Da Costa and Matt Jones on loan from Swindon Town will help Wantage rediscover their form.

Wantage were in the same division as Kidlington last season, winning by a single goal on both occasions, and Ackling is hopeful that switching the game to a Friday night to cater for an annual junior tournament will attract a good crowd.

He added: “Last year against Didcot [Town] at this stage we had close to 400 on the night, which is about three times our average gate. We’re hoping if the weather stays fine, we can get a few people turning up.”

Ackling continued: “I would love to go a few rounds. The furthest I’ve ever gone is Fourth Round Qualifying when I was manager at Hungerford quite a few years ago.

“It’s a great experience – you always get one side from the lower the divisions each year that seems to make the First Round Proper. Hopefully this is our year.

“The revenue from winning would help the club offset the cost of bringing improved facilities in line with new league regulations, so the incentive is not just in terms of getting into the next round.”