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McKimm hopes to deliver FA Cup magic for the fans

The Angels boss looks ahead to our FA Cup debut

Steve McKimm spoke of the importance of the FA Cup to Tonbridge Angels as we caught up with the Angels boss ahead of Saturday’s trip to face Hayes & Yeading in the Second Qualifying Round.

The Angels come into the clash in good form, with an unbeaten run that was extended to three games thanks to the impressive draw away at Dartford FC last weekend.

“The momentum is good going into it, but we’re playing a team that I don’t think has lost all season,” said McKimm. “They’re a good side, but we need to keep doing what we’re doing and grinding out results. And hopefully we’ll grind one out on Saturday to get us through to the next round.”

Paul Hughes’ Hayes & Yeading side currently compete in the Southern League Premier Division South – but McKimm was quick to stress that anything can happen in cup football.

“The levels go out the window in my opinion, because it’s the FA Cup,” he said. “Everyone is up for it, everyone wants to beat everyone… We’ve been on that side of it last year and we were lucky enough to come through it and we ended up getting to the first round. It’s just approaching the game as you would any other game – that’s the only way you can do it. But you know you’re playing on a level playing field whether they’re a league below or two leagues below, because it’s eleven versus eleven and they want to get through in the cup as much as you do.”

McKimm confirmed that he would be picking the best team to win the game on Saturday, based on the threat posed by Hayes & Yeading.

“If everyone’s fully fit, I’ve got a good 18 to choose from,” he said. “That’s how we’ll do it – we’ll do it based on what we think will get us the victory to get through in the cup, and it’s not necessarily always off the back of the last performance, because there might be a weakness where we see someone could cause some problems, or the may have some strengths where we need to tighten up a little bit, so it’s a case of where we have to assess the situation with who we’re playing with and the squad or the team will be picked according to that.”

The Angels’ first appearance in the FA Cup this season inevitable conjures up memories of the wonderful cup run last year, which saw the team eventually bow out at the hands of Bradford in the First Round – but there were no fans at Longmead to see it due to the government restrictions.

“In terms of us getting to that [first] round, it would be another landmark for us if we can do it two years on the spin,” said McKimm. “That would be great, but – more so – great for the supporters, because we had that experience last year, we had all the razzmatazz leading up to it. The supporters were really in the background, and I felt for them – they watched it in the pubs and stuff like that, but it wasn’t the same. You wanted to get Longmead full up and rocking, for them to enjoy it.

“They waited so long, but unfortunately due to the restrictions they weren’t allowed into the ground, and I felt for them. the players did as well, because it’s a big thing. We’re a long way off it at the moment – a long, long way off it, but if we can emulate what we did, it would be fantastic for yes the club, yes the players – but we were there and we saw it and we did it last year. If we can do it, it would definitely be for the supporters to come and embrace it and enjoy it.”

Photo credit: Wez Filtness.
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Published Friday 17th September 2021