Favouritism is sitting heavy with Leamington boss Paul Holleran ahead of his side’s FA Trophy first round clash with Northern Premier League Stourbridge tomorrow.
Home advantage and higher-level status make Brakes odds-on to beat their old rivals but Holleran is reluctant to put too much store by the betting given Stourbridge’s renowned cup pedigree.
“It’s a great tie. Leamington-Stourbridge games are always special,” said Holleran.
“The two clubs are very similar. They’ve always been neck and neck.
“They’ve had some good cup runs and we’ve had a couple of promotions.
“Obviously people will look at us, in a higher league and make us favourites.
“But they have already beaten two sides in our division in Alfreton and Bradford in cups this season and I watched them against Bradford and they were excellent.
“No one in the Midlands has done as well in cup competitions in recent years as Stourbridge. It’s nicely poised.”
Further spice will be added tomorrow with the inclusion of four former Brakes in the Glassboys’ ranks.
Matt Dodd is expected to have recovered from an ankle injury to take his place in the side and will be joined by Paul McCone, Stuart Pierpoint and Leon Broadhurst who will be making his 701st appearance for Gary Hackett’s side.
Stourbridge have slipped off the pace in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, dropping down to tenth, albeit with games in hand, on the back of one point from a possible 12.
However, Holleran said their poor league form was probably as a consequence of their cup exploits which have seen them play six ties across the FA Cup and Trophy.
“That can happen,” he said.
“However, come the shake-up, they won’t be far away.”
Brakes, for their part, were left frustrated as successive home games, against Gainsborough Trinity in the league and West Bromwich Albion in the Birmingham Senior Cup, fell victim to the weather.
The postponement of the Gainsborough match was particularly galling with Holleran keen to get the defeat at Chorley out of their system.
However, he said the club could not afford to take risks given the Lincolnshire side’s travel time.
“It was very close,” said Holleran. “We trained on it Thursday okay but it was the frost on Friday which did it.
“It would have been a gamble to say the pitch would be alright at 3pm with temperatures around one or two degrees.
“If it has been six or seven there wouldn’t have been any issues.
“The one plus point for us is that as it’s a home game it means no midweek travelling.”