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SOUTHERN LEAGUE: Keeper Kent eyes an upset
SWINDON Supermarine stopper Kent Kauppinen insists the gap between the Southern Premier and Division One South & West is ‘not massive’ ahead of tomorrow’s FA Trophy clash with Bideford.
The Robins are third in the higher tier having gone undefeated in their opening 11 games, while Marine are second in the division below after enjoying an excellent start to 2013/14.
The teams meet at the Webb’s Wood Stadium for the prize of £2,700 and a place in the second qualifying round and Kauppinen is confident that the hosts can cause an upset.
“We were in that league two years ago so it will be good to see how far we’ve come since then,” he said. “If they turn up and play well and we turn turn up and play well and we do win, that’s a stepping stone for us.
“I don’t think the gap is that big. It depends on the budget - you might get one or two teams in the league above who are remarkably good, but at the same time it’s not a massive step.
“They are only 23 places off us and I think players-wise we’ve got the ability.”
The 21-year-old, who has made the first round of trials in Samsung’s Win A Pro Contract competition, is relishing the prospect of another outing in an FA competition.
“I like the FA Trophy because you can pull teams in the Conference, it’s about playing as high as you can,” he said.
“It’s a shame we came out of the FA Cup because I prefer playing in those competitions as you can play against better teams with better crowds. You always want to play against the best players you can.”
With no Swindon Town game to compete with, Marine officials will be hopeful of a boosted attendance tomorrow and the thought of an upset will no doubt contribute to that.
Bideford, who signed ex-Torquay and Yeovil midfielder Stephen Reed this week, have been beaten by Division One South & West opposition already this season when they lost 2-1 at Yate in the FA Cup second qualifying round.
However, Marine manager Dave Webb acknowledges that the scale of the task ahead is substantial.
“It’s a big test against a team that’s flying high in the league above, you can’t ask for any more,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of reports on Bideford and we know they are going to be strong, any team that goes 11 unbeaten in the Prem is a decent side.
“But we’re at home, we have to be confident and make sure we start well and get about them and see if we can cause a little upset.”
Webb is hopeful that midfielder Sam Morris will recover from an ankle knock he sustained in the 3-0 Red Insure Cup win over North Leigh on Wednesday.
Captain Dave Bampton (hip) is a greater concern while his fellow centre-half Craig Curtis remains sidelined.
However, right-back Kyle Lapham makes a welcome return and striker Ash Edenborough could play if his back problem heals.
Swindon Town loanee Kayden Jackson is set to feature in the final game of his second month-long loan spell at South Marston.
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