Battle aim to go all the way in national cup

Action from Battle Baptists' last outing, at home to Hollington United, on Saturday January 7.
Action from Battle Baptists' last outing, at home to Hollington United, on Saturday January 7.

Battle Baptist Football Club is aiming to go all the way in the National Christian Cup.

The Macron East Sussex Football League Premier Division high-flyers will travel to St Albans Romans in the last 16 of the prestigious knockout competition tomorrow (Saturday).

Battle were impressive 4-1 winners away to last season’s runners-up St Mary’s West Croydon in the previous round and have lost only twice in all competitions so far this term.

Asked if the club is aiming to go all the way in the national cup, Battle manager Gary Walsh said: “We definitely are. It’s been three years since we’ve had a good run (Battle reached the final of the lower level National Christian Trophy in 2013) and when you taste that level of success, you want it each year.

“We’ve been disappointed to be knocked out early the last couple of years and this represents a good opportunity to have another cracking cup run - and we really want that. The fellows are well up for it and we can’t wait for the weekend to come.”

St Albans Romans reached round three with a 3-2 victory away to Uni East Anglia Rovers CU (Norwich), but Walsh admits tomorrow’s Hertfordshire-based opponents are very much an unknown quantity.

“We know absolutely nothing about St Albans Romans,” he continued. “But to have got this far in the competition means they’ve got to be a fairly decent outfit.

“We’re confident that if we play well, we’ve got a great chance of winning. But it’s always the case that you have to be very flexible and adaptable on the day in response to what’s going on on the pitch.

“We’re very optimistic and we’re going to be very disappointed if we don’t get a result. We’ve got a very strong side out, we’re playing well and the team are loving playing together. It just depends if we can turn it on on the day.”

Victory tomorrow would give Battle a home quarter-final against Christians in Sport (Luton) or Cleanslate (Milton Keynes) on Saturday February 25. They would potentially be on home turf in the semi-finals as well - if they get that far.

Battle will head to St Albans, however, not having played a competitive game for three weeks. They endured a second successive postponement last weekend when their Premier Travel Challenge Cup quarter-final away to Eastbourne Rangers eventually succumbed to a frozen pitch.

The match was declared on during the morning and was only called-off by the referee after Battle’s players were changed and out on the pitch.

The possibility of playing it on the adjacent artificial 3G surface was subsequently explored, but the referee decided against it due to a large hole in the matting by the penalty spot.

Despite the inevitable frustration at the last minute postponement and missing out on valuable match practice ahead of tomorrow’s game, Walsh conceded that both decisions were correct.

Unlike most clubs in the East Sussex League, Battle are facing a busy final part of the season as they still have nine league fixtures to play and a minimum of three cup ties.

“It feels as though we’ve got plenty of time, but actually we haven’t if we continue to do well,” added Walsh.

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