Hartley Wintney FC "dare to dream" ahead of FA Cup fourth qualifying round clash
Super-sub Elliot Hobden hopes his heroics for Hartley Wintney can earn him more FA Cup glory – culminating in a dream trip to Molineux.
The Combined Counties League side will make club history on Saturday when they entertain Daventry Town in their first-ever foray in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round.
Hobden played a huge part in keeping the Row’s dream alive after coming on as a half-time substitute and scoring twice as they fought back from two goals down to beat Clevedon Town 4-3 in their third qualifying round replay last Monday night.
And while admitting that Ben Dillon’s side will not be taking the Calor League Southern Central high-fliers lightly, Hobden admitted it was hard not to look at the potential money-spinning ties that the club is just 90 minutes away from.
“Obviously you take it one game at a time but I think I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it,” the former Basingstoke Town midfielder said.
“Havant & Waterlooville got to play Liverpool a few years ago and that could be us! I think it’s hard to look past Wolves at Molineux in the first round, that would be fantastic.
“Sheffield United would also be a good trip and I’m sure those types of teams will be mentioned to us before the next round to get everybody going for the game.
“We had a crowd of over 400 at the Clevedon home game so hopefully we can get another big crowd and with a bit of luck, we’ll be in that draw.”
The Memorial Ground side have already banked a tidy £18,425 in prize money so far and can swell the coffers to unprecedented levels if they can draw a Football League big gun in the first round proper.
Chairman Luke Mullen, for one, is living the dream.
“I'm naturally a bit of a pessimist, to be honest, but this is the FA Cup, it’s all about what happens on the day.
"We’ve got some good players here, players who can play at a higher level and we can shock a few people I’m sure.
“In many ways the pressure is off our lads. We’ve had a great journey and set club records along the way, but how good will it be to get to the first round proper and pick out a league club? We can dare to dream.
“Brought up in the north, Bury were the team I used to watch so that would be great for me personally, but Aldershot is the plum draw isn’t it, wouldn’t that be fantastic!"
Mullen also revealed the support the club was getting from villagers with plans to decorate the High Street in orange and black, while local bakers Warings are baking cakes in club colours especially for the occasion.
“The whole village has really brought into it,” Mullen added. “There’s a real buzz and community spirit about the place and everyone is fired up.”
Hartley warmed up for the occasion by continuing their cup heroics last weekend with a 4-2 home victory over Wessex League side Petersfield Town in the FA Vase.
Player-boss Dillon got his side off to the perfect start with a second-minute opener – only to then be stunned by two goals in the space of eight minutes.
Like Hobden, hotshot striker Sam Argent netted twice in that replay at Clevedon and he was the hero again in the Vase, bagging two more in as many minutes at the start of the second half to completely turn the tie on its head.
Shane Hollamby then made sure of victory with a fourth goal 12 minutes from time.