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Ramsgate ready to face Hemel Hempstead Town in FA Cup third qualifying round

By Steve Tervet

Ramsgate will be 90 minutes away from a potential clash with former FA Cup winners Portsmouth if they can continue their own run this weekend.

Head coach Lloyd Blackman takes his side to Hemel Hempstead on Saturday with Rams aiming to reach the fourth qualifying round for only the second time in their history.

National League clubs join the competition at that stage before the big boys of Leagues 1 and 2 enter the first round proper.

Ramsgate (in white) on their way to a 1-0 win at Sittingbourne Picture: John Westhrop
Ramsgate (in white) on their way to a 1-0 win at Sittingbourne Picture: John Westhrop

But Ramsgate, who won at Gosport in the previous round, must first pull off a bigger upset to keep their dream alive.

Hemel play in National League South, two divisions above them, so the odds are stacked against Blackman's team.

"It's a massive day," he said. "We weren't going to draw anyone easy but we've had Hemel looked at and we'll do the best we can.

"They'll be a decent side but the players are looking forward to it immensely on the back of the Gosport game. We'll go there and give it a good go.

"The FA Cup throws out some strange results every now and then and hopefully we can be one of them on Saturday."

Ramsgate have won three ties to get this far, banking £17,890 in prize money.

They'd almost double that with victory in Hertfordshire but the glory of winning would outweigh financial gains for Blackman.

"You've got to believe," he said. "We're not there to make up the numbers but we're also realistic.

"We know they're two divisions above us so it's going to be an extremely tough challenge.

Ramsgate head coach Lloyd Blackman Picture: John Westhrop
Ramsgate head coach Lloyd Blackman Picture: John Westhrop

"If we perform as close to our maximum as we can, there is a chance."

Ramsgate played Chelmsford, another National South side, in the FA Cup last season - and lost 7-0.

Blackman said: "We can all learn from that. It did deflate us afterwards.

"It was a decent run in the cup last season but to get tonked like we did, we don't want that to happen again.

"All I can say to those players is try to stay in the moment. Play the game, not the occasion.

"It's important you enjoy it, work hard and earn the right.

"I'd like to think the players are focused and drilled enough to know what they've got to do."

Ramsgate, who beat Sittingbourne 1-0 on Saturday, travelled to Whyteleafe in Bostik South East last night (Tuesday).

They asked for that game to be rearranged, allowing them more preparation time for the FA Cup tie, but league officials refused and the match finished 1-1.

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