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Dartford FC face AFC Uckfield Town in the FA Cup second qualifying round

By Steve Tervet

Dartford enter the FA Cup with a voyage into the unknown this weekend.

The draw for the second qualifying round has sent them to AFC Uckfield Town of the Southern Combination League.

That’s three levels below National League South but Darts’ preparations show how seriously they’re taking the Sussex side.

Dartford joint-manager Jamie Coyle Picture: Andy Payton
Dartford joint-manager Jamie Coyle Picture: Andy Payton

They’ve watched Uckfield three times since the draw was made and joint-boss Jamie Coyle says his players know exactly what to expect.

He said: “It’s going to be tough. They’re unbeaten in 11 so irrelevant of what league they’re in, that’s a great run of form and their confidence is going to be high.

“They have some good players so we’re going to have to turn up and really be at it to get through to the next round.

“The FA Cup, for everyone involved at the football club, is huge.

“It’s important we’re professional and deal with it like a normal league game.

“If we play anywhere near like we did on Saturday, we should be in the hat for the next round.”

Coyle, whose side drew 1-1 at Billericay last weekend, was manager of Welling when they were dumped out of the FA Cup by minnows Haringey at this stage last season.

Dartford know that feeling, too, having been embarrassed by Uxbridge in 2015-16.

But Coyle said: “As a player, I’ve always enjoyed the FA Cup and had really good success.

“I’ve played in the first round four or five times and gone beyond that, so it would be nice if we could replicate that as a management team this season.

“We’re in a good run of form and need to start turning those performances into three points in the league and getting through on
Saturday.”

Dartford are clear favourites but Coyle knows Uckfield, managed by former Tonbridge player Anthony Storey, won’t roll over.

He said: “It’s never that simple and if you think that way as a player, coach or manager, you’re going to come unstuck.

“Teams like Uckfield are going to raise their game. They’re on a great run and are going to be a tough cookie to break.

“The pitch doesn’t look good, it’s tight and bobbly so we’ll have to be patient again and wait for the opportunities to come.

“If we outwork them, our quality should come through.”

Striker Charlie Sheringham returns after suspension and midfielder Elliot Bradbrook is also available while Charlton defender Kenneth Yao could make his Dartford debut. However, fellow loan players Tom Knowles and Amadou Ba are ineligible.

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