SEEN by many as an unwelcome hindrance, the Hellenic League Floodlit Cup is often given a low priority by local clubs but with a place in the quarter-finals at stake, both Fairford Town and Shrivenham are eager to take a step closer to some silverware, writes STUART SMEDLEY.
It may come as a surprise that the Cinder Lane outfit, currently sixth in Division One West, just three points outside of the promotion places, are striving for a place in the last eight.
However with half their league games already in the bag, manager Paul Braithwaite believes they can afford to divert their attentions away from their promotion push.
“We’ve been quite lucky,” Braithwaite admitted. “We played a lot of league games early doors, so there is plenty of time to recover from tonight’s game. And if we do go through, pushing for the semis would be quite nice.
“The league is most important for us obviously, and we’ve used the cups - apart from the FA Vase and FA Cup - to ensure people get games. Tonight’s game will be the same, but I expect we’ll go out and carry on what we’ve been doing.”
Squaring off against the Hellenic Premier Division’s basement dwellers, the Fairford boss is well aware that progress is a good possibility. But he expects Shrivenham to come out fighting.
“When they’re in the situation they find themselves in, confidence of winning games is what they need so I imagine they’ll put out a strong side.”
Fairford will be without top scorer Nathan Gambling (ankle), while Callum Parsons’ participation is in doubt. Centre-half Ashley Taylor, who made his return for the reserves last week, is likely to feature.
Despite his team’s struggles in the league, Shrivvy boss Les Gill is hoping his side recapture the form that has served them well in cup competitions this season.
Six of the team’s eight wins so far this campaign have been in knockout competitions and their manager is hopeful of taking that tally to seven.
“Some of the cup fixtures we’ve done superbly in,” he said. “I’d rather swap that for points in the league, but we’re looking to get something and gain some confidence.
“We’re looking forward to another local derby. It will be a tough game though. I don’t think the difference in divisions is that great at all. Fairford are doing really well and are one of the favourites for promotion.”
Scott Scanlon is set to miss out for the visitors, but Gill expects both Warren Fuller and Taylor Gill to return to action.
Chippenham Town will be looking to carry the momentum gained from their fine 2-0 away victory against St Albans City into their Southern League Premier Division fixture against AFC Totton at Hardenhuish Park tonight.
Saturday’s win lifted the Bluebirds into 13th and a further three points would take them above their 10th-placed visitors.
Cirencester Town are also in action, the Centurions facing a trip to League Two Cheltenham Town in the Gloucestershire Senior Challenge Trophy quarter-finals.