04:17PM, Thursday 17 October 2019
Alan Devonshire says Wealdstone remind him a lot of his title-winning Magpies side from a few seasons ago as he prepares to take on Dean Brennan's side in Saturday's fourth qualifying round FA Cup clash at York Road.
Much like the Magpies that season, The Stones come into Saturday's tie flying high at the top of National League South, having put Chelmsford City to the sword 3-1 on Saturday with goals from former Magpie Danny Green, Billy Clifford and Jerome Okimo.
Devonshire is rightly proud of his FA Cup record with the Magpies, having guided the club to the first round in all but one of his seasons since returning as manager.
That was the year the Magpies went on to lift the National League South trophy.
They roll into this weekend's tie off the back of their first National League win since the end of August, a 2-1 victory over bottom-club Ebbsfleet United on Saturday.
“They’re (Wealdstone) flying,” Devonshire said on Wednesday.
“They’ve won 11 of their 13 league matches so we know they’re a very, very good side.
“They remind me a lot of us when we won the league so, yeah, they’ll be coming to us full of confidence and fancying their chances.
“It’s going to be a very tough game. I’ll see who’s fit following training on Thursday and then decide on the team.
“The aim is to get through to the first round. I think the only time we’ve not made it is the year we won the league.
“We’ve made it every year since then. But we know Wealdstone will make it very tough for us because they’re an excellent side.”
The win at Fleet, and the precious three points it earned, has given the Magpies a boost they were desperately in need of ahead of this weekend’s cup clash at York Road, and tricky looking league games against Solihull Moors and AFC Fylde.
Ryan Upward headed home the winner at the Kufflink Stadium after Danny Whitehall’s deflected free-kick had drawn the visitors level.
It moved United onto 21 points for the season after 17 games, and keeps them just about on track for survival.
But Devonshire knows nothing will be handed to his side between now and April.
“Saturday was really pleasing,” he said.
“At the end of the day we haven’t been getting the rub
of the green in recent matches but we earned that win after making a mistake for the first goal.
“In the first half we weren’t so good but the second half performance was much better and we deserved the win.
“It was good to get three points on the board.
“We hope to (get on a good run) but, listen, I’ve always said the National League is a tough league.
“It took Chesterfield 10 games to get going and if you were to tell me we’d be above Wrexham, Chesterfield and Fylde at the start of the season I wouldn’t have believed you.
“But they’re all struggling and they haven’t won many games.
“That’s the way this league is. Everyone is on an even playing field and it’s the little margins that decide if results go your way or not.”
Devonshire added: “We’ve got 21 points now but some hard games coming up – Solihull Moors and Fylde.
“Solihull are suddenly in good form and Fylde will have a new manager by the time we play them.
“But first we’ve got an FA Cup game to look forward to.”
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