The FA Vase has given us a fantastic platform to continue our fight for a home and hopefully we can look back in 20 years’ time and say that this was the catalyst of a fantastic chapter in the history of Canterbury City FC, says manager Ben Smith
CANTERBURY CITY manager Ben Smith says he is counting down the hours to the clubs biggest game in their history on Sunday afternoon.
Smith’s side welcome Biggleswade in The Buildbase FA Vase Quarter-Finals at Salters Lane in Faversham as they look to reach the two-legged Semi-Finals next month.
Biggleswade are in second-place in the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division, a couple of points behind leaders Hadley, while Canterbury City sit in twelfth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table.
Canterbury City have saved their best form for The FA Vase and a crowd of over 1,000 is expected in Faversham on Sunday to witness the homeless club’s biggest ever game in their history.
Landlords Faversham Town play Whyteleafe in the Bostik South East Division at Salters Lane on Saturday, which means Smith and his side have to wait a further 24 hours.
Cray Valley travelled down to Devon today ahead of their Quarter-Final tie at Willand Rovers on Saturday and Smith has previously said that he would like to face Kevin Watson’s side in the Semi-Finals to guarantee one Kent side at Wembley in May.
“Due to our groundshare arrangements we have to wait the extra day for the biggest game in our clubs history,” said Smith.
“I can honestly say I will be counting down the hours tomorrow as I am sure everyone connected with our club will be.
“It’s a great opportunity for everyone to experience what a big game is and hopefully this will push us on over the next year both on and off the pitch.
“Once you taste something better, you want more of it and that’s how our club should see this FA Vase run.
“I think back to Ashford United a few years ago, who went on to gain promotion the season after reaching the Quarter-Finals and it really can be a massive springboard.”
Smith claims his side will be the underdogs when they lock horns with Biggleswade in a make-or-break showdown.
“We know quite a bit about our opposition and they are strong so we will have to be at our best on the day,” said Smith, who is without two centre-halves for the game.
“I am very confident that we can get that out of them and then we’ll see where that can take us.
“We have had some of our heart ripped out with Laurence Harvey and Liam Quinn both out for the season but we have very, very experienced cover in that area that can step in so it’s not all doom and gloom at all.
“Are we underdogs? Yes, but that doesn’t mean we are going to just roll over and there have been bigger upsets in football than us getting a positive result on Sunday.”
Biggleswade have lost only four games out of 39 in all competitions this season, losing only twice in 25 league games.
Canterbury City have beaten Langney Wanderers (2-0); AFC Vardeanians (2-0); Saltdean United (2-1); Corinthian (4-2 after extra time); Southall (1-0 after extra time); Newport Pagnell Town (3-2) and Leicester Nirvana (2-1).
Biggleswade, meanwhile, have got past Norwich CBS (4-1); Tring Athletic (5-3 on penalties after a replay finished 0-0 after the original fixture ended in a 1-1 draw); Stowmarket Town (1-0) and Windsor (6-1).
Canterbury’s longest FA Vase run has ensured the club have received welcomed publicity and this has helped in their ongoing fight for a new stadium in the City.
Councillors unanimously rejected plans on 5 February to build a 125 millon pounds sports and leisure complex – featuring 175 holiday homes on protected countryside in Bridge, near Canterbury.
The developer Quinn Estates was hoping to build a new stadium for Canterbury City, along with six new pitches for the rugby club on an area of outstanding natural beauty at Highland Court Farm.
Smith said: “Off the pitch The FA Vase has given us a fantastic platform to continue our fight for a home and hopefully we can look back in 20 years’ time and say that this was the catalyst of a fantastic chapter in the history of Canterbury City FC.
“The publicity has really increased the weight of support for the club to return home and that only makes us more determined to get the right results on and off the pitch!”
Visit Canterbury City’s website: www.canterburycityfc.net
Canterbury City v Biggleswade
The Buildbase FA Vase Quarter-Final
Sunday 24 February 2019
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Salters Lane, Faversham, Kent ME13 8ND