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Avro prepare for biggest game in club’s history
Wednesday 28th November 2018 @ 11:51 by Mark Phillip
Football Sports

Excitement is steadily building ahead of the biggest game in Avro’s 82-year history this weekend.

Managed by James Hampson and Lee O’Brien, the squad host West Auckland Town in the FA Vase third round at the Vestacare Stadium on Saturday.

Avro have negotiated three tricky rounds to reach this stage of the competition, cruising to a 3-0 victory over Barnton in the second qualifying round, before returning from Steeton with a 3-2 win in the first round proper. A home tie in the second round proper saw Avro hold out for a 2-1 victory over Squires Gate, despite being reduced to ten men just before the interval after Louis Potts was sent-off for headbutting Joey Mullen.

In reaching this stage of the competition, Avro have picked up £2,450 in prize money. A victory in Saturday’s encounter would generate a further £1,125 and will move the club one step closer to a Wembley Stadium Final.

Hampson, who took the role in the summer of 2017 and claimed a league and cup double during his first season in charge, said he can’t wait to be involved in such a big occasion. “Before we’ve even kicked a ball there has been some tremendous hard work behind the scenes to get us to be able to compete in these sorts of games” he said.

“The players have got to take a lot of the credit as five or six of the squad have moved up with us from the Manchester League and have been at the club since they were younger. They’ve applied themselves and are now reaping the rewards.”

Avro have enjoyed a blistering start to life in the North West Counties First Division North and will enter the game with confidence, although their opponents, who are based in Durham and compete in the Northern League Division One – one step above Avro in the pyramid –  have enjoyed great success in this competition.

The club has been lucky enough to play at Wembley Stadium on two occasions, having reached the final in 2012 and 2014. However both occasions ended in heartache, with a 2-0 defeat to Dunston UTS followed by a 1-0 loss to Sholing.

West Auckland are so far enjoying life in step nine and find themselves third in the table on 32 points, having won nine, drawn five and lost four. They took their impressive league form into the Vase and claimed a 1-0 victory at Thackley in the previous round, thanks to an 81stminute strike from Adam Burnicle.

Despite Auckland’s quality, Hampson is confident his side can cause an upset and believes home advantage will make a difference. “West Auckland have a prestigious record in this competition and doing well in their respective league” he said. “We’ll be the underdog going into the game, but we fancy our chances against anyone at home. We’re hoping for a big turn out from our supporters, to get behind the lads and most importantly get the win.”

Although it doesn’t have the glitz and glamour of the FA Cup, the Vase is viewed with much excitement by non-league clubs below tier eight.

And while Chairman Robert Fuller would love a victory on Saturday, he believes the squad should be proud of their achievements whatever the result. “I’m extremely proud of the steps the club are taking towards becoming a force in non-league football” he said.

“This season has been a new challenge for everyone, but we’ve stepped up to the plate and look destined for great things. After a promising start to the campaign, the aim is to kick on and maintain our form with a view of claiming promotion or silverware. I think that would be just reward for the efforts the players and management team have put in.”