We have nothing to lose so there's no pressure on us, says Ashford United coach John Ovard
This FA Carlsberg Vase Fourth Round tie has been postponed on three occasions due to the wettest January on record, which has caused the playing surface at Reynolds Field to be waterlogged over the past three weekends.
But the pitch was passed playable following a pitch inspection at 18:00 tonight and both sides can now look forward to seeing which of the two will progress into the last sixteen of the competition, where a trip to Ampthill Town awaits on 15 February.
Hanwell Town have slipped down to third-place in the Spartan South Midlands League, with 61 points from 22 games, but they have won all 12 of their league games at home.
The west London outfit are seven points adrift of league leaders Ampthill Town, but they do have six games in hand.
Ashford United, meanwhile, go into the game sitting proudly at the top of the Southern Counties East Football League table with thirteen wins and one defeat from their fourteen games.
“We have been looking forward to this game for over three weeks so it’s good to finally play,” said Ovard, on the eve of the club’s biggest game of the season so far.
“The reasoning for the game to be played on a Tuesday night, which itself causes a number of problems for everyone, isn’t something many people can understand but the weather has caused all this.”
Paul Chambers’ side played three games in January.
They went down to a 1-0 defeat to Erith Town in the First Leg of the Macron Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Quarter-Final on 7 January, before bouncing back with a 2-0 home win over Holmesdale in the league four days later.
They then travelled to Eltham on 21 January to play the Second Leg against Erith Town and produced an eight-goal thriller in a 4-4 draw, but Mark Tompkins’ side went through with an aggregate win.
“Team wise, we had a great team performance in our last game against Erith Town in terms of our play and commitment. The form and confidence in the squad is good,” said Ovard.
Ovard says the side travel to Hanwell Town as the underdogs, against a side that have a brilliant home league record.
He said: “We have nothing to lose so there’s no pressure on us. We will go there, be positive and try our best to get a result in difficult circumstances.
“Hanwell do have a decent record at home, so I understand why there were so desperate to play it there. We won’t sulk about it. We’ll go and have a battle with them.”
The FA had issued Hanwell a warning on more than one occasion that the tie would be switched to Homelands if their playing surface was not playable, but the game has been given the go-ahead this evening.
The Kent club have been forced to cancel supporters’ coaches to the match and travelling fans making the trip by Tube to Perivale must make alternative arrangements coming home, thanks to a 48-hour Tube strike, which kicks in before the end of the match.
But Ovard praised the fans that are making the trip.
He said: “It shows the class of our supporters that they are all still trying to get to the game after having to cancel coaches. A rail strike tomorrow is just another issue they face with this fixture but hopefully all these things against us brings everyone closer as we try to get a result.”
Meanwhile, if scores are level after 90 minutes on Tuesday night then the game will go into extra-time. If after 120 minutes of football a replay is needed then it will take place at Homelands Stadium on Saturday, 8 February, which will cause the postponement, again, of their trip to Phoenix Sports in the Kent Senior Trophy Sponsored by Spire Alexandra Hospital Quarter-Final.
Visit Ashford United’s website: http://ashfordunitedfc.com/
Hanwell Town v Ashford United
The Carlsberg Vase Fourth Round
Tuesday 4th February 2014
Kick Off 7:45pm
At Reynolds Field, Perivale Lane, Perivale, Greenford, Middlesex UB6 8TL