Who would have thought five years ago that we would be playing a top local side in The FA Cup – it’s like a dream scenario for everyone at the club, says Punjab United boss Chipie Sian

Friday 20th August 2021

PUNJAB UNITED manager Chipie Sian says his side will be aiming to pull off a FA Cup upset at Phoenix Sports tomorrow.

The Gravesend-based outfit are sitting in fourteenth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table, having collected a win from their opening four league outings.

Punjab United started their campaign with a 3-2 home win over newly-promoted side Kennington before losing 2-1 at home to Hollands & Blair three days later.

Mile Oak were beaten 2-0 in the FA Cup two weeks ago but league defeats have followed to much-fancied pair, Glebe (3-2) and Sheppey United (3-1).

“We’ve had a mixed start to the season. We’ve had a number of injuries to key players and a few out due to suspensions and lack of match fitness,” said Sian.

“However, I’m very happy with the boys’ attitude this season. The results could have been better but I can see we are making good progress and making it hard for our opponents to deal with our style of play.

“We didn’t start the midweek league game against Sheppey in the right way,” added Sian.

“We conceded two early soft goals, however, once we got our composure back and started to play football we got our deserved goal and started to push for the equaliser.

“This all changed after our keeper got sent off late in the first half. We all thought the decision was a dubious one and very harsh.  Due to injuries, we had to put one of our defenders (Diljit Boora) in goal, who did a great job filling in for Max Ovenden.

“The boys still pushed for an equaliser but in the end they got the third goal and made use of the extra man on the pitch. It was a valiant effort, which I believe could have been different with 11 men on the pitch.”

“We now look forward to our First Preliminary Round FA Cup tie – and what a tie!

“Who would have thought five years ago that we would be playing a top local side in The FA Cup – it’s like a dream scenario for everyone at the club.

“We’ve followed Phoenix Sports for a very long time and applaud what they have achieved. They are a great club with big potential to push up the leagues.

“We are looking forward to this tie and have nothing to fear.  It will be a tough Cup tie, we will go out and enjoy the day but will be looking to cause an upset and create history for our club and supporters.”

Phoenix Sports play one level higher, the Isthmian League South East Division, and kicked off their league campaign with a 1-0 home defeat to Faversham Town last weekend.

Paul Byron’s side also successfully navigated a FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie, winning 1-0 at Molesey, courtesy of James Dyer’s 83rd minute winner.

"Now the season is fully underway, it feels like a privilege to be back after such a disruptive couple of seasons," said Byron.

"Saturday will be our third competitive game as we were drawn to play in the Extra Preliminary Round.  We came away with a comfortable 1-0 win, if there is such a thing, at Molesey.

"Last week we lost 1-0 to Faversham in a bitty game. I thought we did enough to get something from the game but chances were few and far between for both sides and we switched off for a moment and they scored.

"We controlled the game and they defended well, that's the way they played and it worked for them.

"We still had three of our senior players out and two will be missing this week due to suspension."

Looking ahead to their home tie against lower league side Punjab United, Bryon added: "They have experience and determination and some tricky players.

"We've got a couple of players back and we will be stronger than last week.

"This is The FA Cup and anything can happen here.  On paper, we should be favourites but the gap between these two divisions is closing every year.  This is obviously due to budgets increasing in the leagues below.

"We have prepared well and we will be ready for it come three o'clock on Saturday.

"This is, after all, the most famous Cup competition in the world."

Phoenix Sports  v  Punjab United
The Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round
Saturday 21 August 2021
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Mayplace Ground, Mayplace Road East, Barnehurst, Kent DA7 6JT