Spencer Day is backing his Farnborough young guns to upset the odds yet again this Saturday when the Non-League Day tour bus pays a visit to Cherrywood Road for the visit of Hampshire rivals Havant & Waterlooville.
Day’s men are fast building themselves a reputation as Vanarama South spoilers having enjoyed a week which saw them blitz Basingstoke Town’s unbeaten record and frustrate mega-rich White-hawk in the space of five days.
Now with more big spending Hawks in the shape of Havant & Waterlooville set to make the trip up the A3M for a special Non-League carnival on Saturday, the Boro chief is determined to revel in the role of underdog again.
Former Boro favourites such as Nic Ciardini, Josh Huggins, Scott Donnelly, Bradley Bubb, JJ Hooper and trialist Shamir Mullings are all expected to feature for the Hawks on Saturday, and Day has warned his former charges they won’t be in for an easy ride.
“We showed against Basingstoke and Whitehawk, that we can frustrate these teams and are capable of holding on in there when we are under pressure. The longer we do that the better chance we have of nicking something, like we did at Whitehawk on Saturday.
“Havant have some excellent players, I should know as I’ve worked with half of them and I’d have them all back in a heartbeat. But we’re not a bad side either and we can play at bit too, especially in front of our home crowd, so it should be a cracking game.”
Indeed, any ex-Farnborough men needing advice as to the battling qualities of Day’s current charges need only ask former manager Steve King.
His Whitehawk side dominated long spells of their clash at The Enclosed Ground on Saturday only to be denied all three points by a scrambled equaliser from substitute Joe Taylor a minute from time.
Day handed a debut at the back to new loan signing Matt Bevans, who arrived from League 2 side Oxford United on Friday – and he is on the verge of adding another addition this weekend after making a seven-day approach for a proven Conference defensive midfield player.
Another full debutant, Adam Brice, should have given Day’s side the lead early doors but the 19-year-old former Aldershot Town academy captain failed to divert his back post header from a Matt Ball free kick past keeper John Sullivan.
Whitehawk, however, went close themselves through ex-Woking man Paul Lorraine, who then made up for his wayward header by crossing for full-back Hills to open the scoring from close range just before the break.
Ex-Boro striker Serge Makofo and Danny Mills both went close to doubling the advantage as the visitors, clearly missing absent duo Phil Page and Dan Bennett clung on.
But just when it looked like they’d settle for damage limitation they got the breakthrough when Fejiri Okenabirhie stole the ball back and his effort deflected into the path of Taylor, who managed to slide the ball under Sullivan.
“It was a great point for us but I won’t be getting carried away because it wasn’t a great performance,” admitted Day, whose side beat Egham Town 4-1 in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Tuesday night.
“We had key players missing in Page and Bennett and the light nature of our squad showed. We rode our luck at times. For 44 minutes we did a very good job in stopping them playing but then we conceded a very soft goal from a set-piece. In truth, we didn’t look like getting anything from the game but then got a stroke of luck at the end and stole a point.
“We were probably due a bit and these things have a tendency to even themselves out over a season. That’s football, and it’s a point gained.”
Boro: Grainger; Rodgers, Tumwa (Taylor 54), Bevans, Brice, Ferrell, Fearn (Pearse 73), Ball, Webb (McAvoy 73), Okenabirhie, Treacher. Sub: West.
* League sponsors Vanarama have joined forces with Non-League Day to launch a campaign to break the attendance record at Vanarama Conference fixtures this Saturday.
The target is to achieve a Non-League Day attendance of more than 50,000 at Vanarama Conference games on the day, breaking the existing record of 39,210 set in 2012.
Farnborough’s visit of Havant & Waterlooville is one of the feature matches of the day with Vanarama pledging to make a donation on behalf of every fan attending a Vanarama Conference fixture to Prostate Cancer UK, the event’s charity.
Based on last year’s attendance this will be a donation of £4,000. If the matchday attendance across the Vanarama Conference is higher than 50,000, Vanarama will donate at least £10,000.
To celebrate the day, Farnborough FC are putting on discount prices and a staging a carnival atmosphere, including face painting, bouncy castles and an ice cream van.