There should be a feel good factor to the town and our FA Trophy run is putting the team and the town on the map, says Hythe Town boss Steven Watt

Thursday 11th January 2024

HYTHE TOWN manager Steven Watt urges more local residents to get themselves to Reachfields Stadium on Saturday as the club look to reach the last sixteen of The FA Trophy for the first time.

The Cannons are enjoying their longest run in the competition and have produced three cup upsets at home already and welcome fourth-placed Vanarama National League North side Chorley on Saturday.

Hythe Town kicked-off their FA Trophy campaign with a 3-1 win at league rivals Burgess Hill Town on Saturday 9 September, before they came away from Chertsey Town with a 4-2 win in the next round.

Watt then took his side to Isthmian League Premier Division side Concord Rangers and beat them 3-2.

But it’s been their last three home games that caused the cup shocks as their league leaders Ramsgate were beaten 3-1 in the First Round on 31 October.

The Cannons were then held to a goal-less draw by National League South side Tonbridge Angels, before winning 3-1 on penalties, with former Tonbridge star Frannie Collin scoring the winning penalty, before Isthmian League Premier Division side Whitehawk – who beat the Cannons 1-0 in last season’s Isthmian League South East Division Play-Off Final – were beaten 3-2 in the Third Round.

Chorley, meanwhile, play a couple of levels higher than Hythe Town, and have picked up 43 points (12 wins, seven draws and six defeats) from their 25 league games and are 16 points adrift of leaders Tamworth, although they are one of six teams inside the play-off zone.

“It’s a very, very tough game,” said Watt, who has never reached this stage of the competition, either as a player or as a manager.

“They’re doing really well this year, having a promotion push in their division.  Chorley are a club that’s been to the National League and are a club with great history.

“It’s going to be a really, really tough game for us and a big ask but we’ve already beaten a club from that level (Tonbridge Angels) in that cup on our journey so far, here’s hoping we can do it one more time.”

Reflecting on his side’s FA Trophy campaign – don’t forget that the Final is played at Wembley Stadium on 11 May - Watt said: “It’s been outstanding! It’s been tough.  It’s knocked us back in the league in terms of games.  We’re coming to mid-January and we’ve only played 15 games, some of that due to Trophy and weather purposes.

“Our bread and butter is the league but cup runs are always good for the squad. It’s a distraction from the league and it can also build a lot of confidence, which this journey has done because we’ve beaten some good teams along the way in our league and similar levels to us.

“You look at Chertsey, they’re flying in their division (Isthmian League South Central) and we went there and got a good result and then we’ve beaten three teams from the league above and leagues above, so it’s been a really good exercise for the boys.”

Chairman Gary Johnson has explained the reasons why he wants more local people to attend Saturday’s game.

Hythe Town are a hardworking outfit, always giving their all and relish the underdog tag.  The Cannons have only lost a couple of games at fortress Reachfields Stadium in 2023 - and everyone loves attending a cup giant-killing act!

Hythe Town are in eleventh-place in the part-time Isthmian League South East Division table (eight wins, three draws and four defeats) – and play in the eighth-tier of English football while Chorley play in the sixth-tier.

“In terms of the football club, it’s been a while since the club’s had good success, if you like, regular success and we’re just trying to build on what we’ve done last year,” added Aberdeen-born Watt.

“I think it’s something the town can be proud of the football team now.  The home record is very, very good. We’ve only lost two home games in 2023 and that’s in all competitions.  Normally it’s a positive result at home.

“There should be a feel good factor to the town in regards to the football and I think it’s been a while since the clubs had that.

“They’ll come along and see a team that truly gives everything that they’ve got – for the club and for the town.

“It’s good to be involved this deep in a national competition because it puts the team on the map – and the town.”

Watt’s men trained last Saturday – as their home game against Littlehampton Town was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.  They also trained on Tuesday night and will be given their final instructions at tonight’s training session.

“Everyone should be fit and available to go.  I’ve got a few headaches but you want to have them as a manager.   The whole squad has played really good this year when called upon.”

“We couldn’t train last week because the 3G pitch we use was flooded – the boys are well prepared after being in tonight and here’s hoping that preparation will stand us in good stead for Saturday.”

Hythe Town in the last 16?

“It will be incredible to get to the last 16 in this competition. It would be an unbelievable achievement, particularly for a club the size of Hythe Town,” said Watt.

“I don’t know the history of the competition. I don’t know how deep a Step Four club has got in this competition before. I don’t know if we’d be the first or not or I’d imagine we would be one of very few clubs to have done it in the last 32.

“It goes without saying the size of club we are, we’re not the biggest club at our level, that are more than capable of going this far in our league but you wouldn’t necessarily associate Hythe Town as being one of them.

“It’s something that the club has done and more importantly what the players’ have done over the last 18 months is they’ve made Hythe, if you like, a team and a place to be fearful off and here’s hoping that we can go one step further than what we have done and get to the last 16 and then who never know what can happen from there.”

Admission prices: £10 (adults), £7 (concessions), £2 (under 18s).

Hythe Town have confirmed that the Reachfields Stadium pitch has passed the pitch inspection at 12 noon on Friday.

Visit Hythe Town’s website:

Hythe Town  v  Chorley
The Isuzu FA Trophy Fourth Round
Saturday 13 January 2024
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Reachfields Stadium, Fort Road, Hythe, Kent CT21 6JS