Only the most hardened of NCEL club followers won’t get behind Winterton Rangers on Saturday, as the club – fourth-placed in Toolstation NCEL Division One – play their FA Vase Third Round tie with Irlam, seventh in the North West Counties Premier Division, all over again. The original tie at Silver Street was abandoned due to floodlight failure, so the only NCEL side still standing in the Competition get a second opportunity – this time at their West Street home – and Rangers Manager, Rob Watson, thinks that last Saturday’s abbreviated encounter won’t necessarily work in his side’s favour, writes Colin Muncie.
“I can’t wait to get going on Saturday,” Rob told TBG. “After last week’s events we just want to get back out on the pitch. The floodlight failure was disappointing, but no fault of Irlam’s. I felt both clubs dealt with the situation well and I’m delighted to welcome them back to ours on Saturday.”
Rob is optimistic that the Rangers support can help his team over the line. “I’m hoping home advantage – and a big crowd – will take us into the next round,” he said. “I felt we were the better side last week, but I’m expecting a much tougher start this game with each team having a preview of each other last week.”
Assistant Manager, Scott Helliwell, has been impressed by the approach to the replayed tie. “I’m really pleased the FA rearranged the game to be at home,” he told TBG, “also credit to Irlam who asked the game to be played at our place. Hopefully the weather will clear a little and not leave the game in doubt.”
Scott feels that Irlam will enjoy their day at Winterton – until the whistle blows. “It’s going to be a tough game but we have the advantage of being at home,” he insisted, “and I think once they see the facilities and pitch, they will be pleased it’s at our ground. We kind of know what to expect from them now – and we know who their danger men are; but last Saturday was last Saturday – and we can’t take too much from that.”
Optimistic about a large crowd, Scott feels that the incentive of a home fourth round tie with Midlands Football League side Cadbury Athletic will drive both sides on Saturday. “Hopefully we will get a few at the game to cheer the lads on,” Scott told us, “and both teams have the added bonus of knowing that if they win, then they have a home draw in the next round.”
“We are confident of getting a result; but I’m sure they will be too,” Scott admitted. “Let’s hope it’s us come Saturday night who will be looking forward to playing Cadbury in the next round.”