Huntingdon Town are off to Manchester for their Christmas party after securing an away trip to Congleton Town in the third round of the FA Vase.
A feisty 1-0 win over AFC Mansfield at Jubilee Park last week means the club will grace the last 64 of the national competition for the first time in its history – and a night out in Manchester, via Booth Park in Cheshire, is the players’ reward.
“We have made a bit of history getting into the third round,” said manager Seb Hayes, after the Wednesday night replay, which followed the 120 minutes and 1-1 draw in Nottinghamshire.
It was a tough game against a physical and sometimes intimidating side but a single goal from Ben Seymour-Shove, who also scored in Mansfield, was enough.
“I said before the game to the lads that it was all about getting it done in the 90 minutes because I felt we could have won it inside the 90 minutes at Mansfield,” said Hayes. “We knew what was coming and we knew it was going to be an aggressive onslaught and the lads were brilliant.
“We kept our heads, won the battle with a little bit of class and the bonus of the night is that we will now have our Christmas party in Manchester.”
Huntingdon remain unbeaten under Hayes following the departure of former manager Ricky Marheineke. On Saturday they beat lowly Harborough Town 3-0 to keep up their good run in the League. Stuart Eason was the star of the show with two goals despite twice being involved in a clash of heads. The striker later tweeted: “My head is solid. Used to it.”
A Declan Rogers cross on the half hour beat the Harborough defence and their back-tracking goalkeeper for the first goal. Rogers’s smile and minimal celebration said it all.
But Huntingdon found it hard to break down the UCL Premier Division’s bottom side at times and there were a few scares – and scars.
The first clash of heads – accidental, just before half time when Eason headed the ball over the bar – left a Harborough player bleeding and the Huntingdon striker a little dazed.
The second bump came three minutes before Eason picked up the ball on the edge of the area, ghosted past a couple of defenders, and placed it neatly past the goalkeeper. He seemed no the worse for his knocks.
Eason’s second goal was a tap in after a great move involving Mike Hyem and Declan Rogers.
But, despite being fourth in the UCL Premier Division with games in hand – it is unlikely that Huntingdon, or anyone else for that matter, will catch big spenders Spalding Town this season. The Lincolnshire side have now won all 16 of their league games.
“We just want to keep going in the league and the Vase,” said Hayes. “Ricky started it and we have continued it and that’s one defeat in 21 games for us now.”
The last 64 tie at Congleton will be played on Saturday, December 7, with the team making the 27-mile trip north for their Christmas party after the game.
On Wednesday night, Huntingdon beat Deeping Rangers 2-0 in the Hinchingbrooke Cup with new signing Caspar Irso-Coombes scoring in the 11th minute of his debut and Rogers getting the other goal.