Hampton and Richmond Borough manager Gary McCann is ready for the biggest match of his managerial career as the Beavers host League Two Oldham Athletic at the Beveree on Monday night in the first round proper of the FA Cup.
McCann said at Thursday’s press conference: “It’s the biggest game for me, the fact it is live on BT against a full time outfit at the Beveree makes it very special.
“It’s a special game for us, we are trying to keep it as normal as possible but it’s the FA Cup.”
The Beavers are on a disappointing run in National League South with only one win in their last six matches, including a particularly poor 4-2 defeat against Oxford City on Saturday. McCann admitted that the Oldham tie has affected league form and it’s nice for the players to now focus fully on Monday’s big occasion.
“Our performances have not been good enough. Our league form is concerning and that is something we need to assess once we’ve got Monday out of the way,” he said.
Hampton’s league form means that McCann and his staff are still not clear on team selection for the match. The manager said that three or four places were still up for grabs.
McCann’s side have come through three matches to reach this tie. Having knocked out Burgess Hill Town and AFC Hornchurch, they pulled off a memorable away victory against Eastleigh in the final qualifying round. The winning goal was scored by experienced striker Chris Dickson, who is relishing the occasion against Oldham.
The former Charlton man said: “It is a massive game for every one involved, we can’t wait for Monday to come along. I see every game as winnable, I don’t fear any opposition. Of course we are the underdogs, that’s the beauty of the FA Cup, anything can happen, the place is going to be buzzing. We’ve got to embrace it and enjoy the moment.”
Oldham, like their hosts, have been struggling in the league. The Latics — who played in the first season of the Premier League in 1992 and reached two FA Cup semi finals in the 1990s — have won just one of their last nine matches. McCann travelled to Meadow Lane on Tuesday to see Oldham draw 0-0 with Notts County.
He said: “We watched Oldham on Tuesday, we’ve covered most players and formations. They are an experienced side, the two players up front will need looking after. They are not coming into the tie in best of form either.”
There are challenges facing the Hampton squad in the build up to the tie. The fact the game has been moved to the Monday night means players are having to battle with work commitments.
McCann said: “The beauty of non-league football is that we’ve got players working during the day on Monday. We need to be as professional as we can be. Evening games are always a challenge but we’ve got to get on with it.”
Dickson added: “I’ve booked the day off work! Irrespective of whether I’m allowed or not, I’m not working on Monday.”
The match promises to be a memorable occasion for everyone connected with Hampton and Richmond. The match is being broadcast around the world by BT Sport while the BBC will be doing the second round draw live at the stadium before kick off.
McCann hopes everyone enjoys a special night at the Beveree, saying: “This is a fantastic football club with a fantastic set of supporters. On Monday it’s going to be a full house and we want to hear them get behind the boys.
“It will be a night to saviour, those who are here will remember it for years to come.”
Featured photograph/Rob Sutton