FOOTBALL has a habit of throwing up these ironies.

Eleven years ago to the day on Saturday Farnborough Town marked a unique moment in history with a second round clash at Torquay United — a game which eventually led to the Devon club becoming the one and only Football League side to fall victim to Boro's giant-killing exploits.

The 1-1 draw at Plainmoor on Saturday December 7, 1991 was followed by a famous 4-3 home victory in front of the Sky Sports cameras, three days later, handing Boro a dream third round draw against the mighty West Ham United.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Who can ever forget that 1-1 draw at Upton Park on Saturday January 4, 1992 — that late penalty by Dean Coney and the fantastic reception received from 23,000 West Ham fans, who, like today, were demonstrating for change in a bid to save their future in the top flight.

And so back to east London three days later for a second bite of the cherry, and another memorable day — the FA Cup run ended only by Trevor Morley's 88th minute winner.

It was a game which marked the birth of Farnborough Town FC. Now, under the new era, Graham Westley is looking to christen it with a repeat performance.

For only the second time in the club's history, Boro enter into the second round of the FA Cup this Saturday with just Conference rivals Southport standing in the way of them and another potential West Ham.

Boro enjoyed their biggest away win of the season at Haig Avenue last season, and were robbed of victory up in Lancashire during this campaign. But, as Notts County will tell you after their first-round exit at Haig Avenue, this is the FA Cup, where league form counts for nothing.

Westley's men will, however, be more than encouraged with their recent exploits, and will make the long trip north full of confidence.

They are currently the highest scorers in the competition with 11 goals in their two matches played so far, and followed up their 5-1 mauling of Harrogate Town in round one with another five-goal blast against Burton Albion on Saturday, and a 3-2 success over Northwich the previous week.

And, in Ken Charlery, Saturday's hat-trick hero, and Rocky Baptiste, scorer of eight goals in his last five games, he has two strikers on the very top of their game.

Westley said: "Ken Charlery is nearly two stone lighter today than he was earlier in the season. Not only has he put in the work rate to achieve that change but he is putting in a phenomenal effort on the pitch.

"I think that he is discovering that there is even more opportunity in his future than he realised now that he is searching hard for it.

"Ken has scored goals recently because of his work rate. The key now, and Ken is experienced enough to be the first to acknowledge it, is to continue to improve that work rate. Everything else will continue to follow.

"I think that Charlery, Baptiste and Lenny Piper are performing very well at present. Albeit, they could and should have scored more than five between them last weekend.

"I want to see their hunger for goals to become stronger and the quality of their finishing to continue to improve. If they start raising the number of chances and the percentage of chances taken, then the result will be devastating. The presence of Chrissy Lee and Joff Vansittart helps to encourage them in this direction."

Westley has every reason to be encouraged with the improvement in recent weeks. When the draw was made, Southport were third in the Conference and unbeaten at home, Boro were 15th, and a few pessimists were already contemplating what might have been.

Now it's sixth versus tenth, Southport are reeling from back-to-back defeats and Boro are on fire. It's game on.

Westley added: "I see that two express trains will collide head on in the opening round. Coming through that phase in charge is vital.

"Southport have won five of their 11 home games; we have won six of our 11. So in that regard we've both got similar home form. They've lost their last two at home; we're unbeaten in six league games away.

"On Saturday, the only thing that will matter is that we outperform them on the day. We can do that.

"The possibility of drawing a big boy in round three will provide the club with vital funds. For instance, we would be able to take our destiny into our own hands on stadium develop-ments if all else failed.

"But it would also provide an opportunity to qualify for the fourth round; the fourth leads to the fifth…who knows?

"Dreaming is dangerous sometimes, especially when you're the type who goes for his dreams. Boris Becker won Wimbledon when he did that!"

The good news for Westley is that he has, more or less, a full-strength side to pick from, with injuries relatively clear and no suspensions looming.

The boss is expected to name the same starting eleven as last Saturday with Steve Watson and Danny Carroll pulling the strings from the centre of midfield, the two Pipers on the flanks and Charlery and Baptiste continuing up front.

Tony Taggart and Gary Holloway are likely to start from the bench.

l Please note, the match is NOT all-ticket, terrace tickets and seating will be available on the turnstiles.

l The Boro reserves, who travelled to Harrow Borough as the News went to press on Wednesday night, are back in home action this Wednesday when they entertain Woking (ko 7.45pm).