12:00PM, Friday 23 April 2021
Marcus Richardson has spent the past few days frantically trying to do his homework on Plymouth Parkway of the Western League Premier Division, his side’s opponents for Saturday’s last 16 FA Vase tie.
Usually, the Heathens boss would have at least a few weeks to assess the side’s strengths and weaknesses and may also take in a couple of their games on a scouting mission.
However, with the competition being squeezed into the next month and a half, the ties are being played on consecutive weekends.
Saturday’s penalty shootout victory over Lancing was their first competitive game in several months and came just a couple of weeks after the team returned to training when lockdown restrictions were eased.
They’ll travel to Plymouth this Saturday (April 24) and three more victories would see Richardson’s men walk out under the shadow of Wembley’s arch for the final.
Should they come through this weekend’s tie they’ll then be back on the road the following Saturday (May 1) to face either Tavistock or United Services Portsmouth in the quarter finals.
All matches are taking place behind closed doors.
“We play Plymouth next but if we come through that it will be a trip to Tavistock or United Services Portsmouth,” said Richardson.
“I would love a home game but our tie on Saturday is away from home and if we come through that we’re away again.
“Plymouth are a smart side. They haven’t put anything up on the internet of their recent games and I’ve had to look on their league rival’s website to see them in action when they play away from home.
“I’m trying to get as much information on them as I can, but we are going into the game almost blind.
“They’ll be trying to get information on us as well, but our game on Saturday was livestreamed on Youtube so they’ll have been looking at that to see if they can find what our weaknesses are.
“But any team who beats us now is going to be a very good team, and if they do, I’ll hold my hands up.”
This weekend’s smart motorway closures on the M4 will be shorter than usual due to separate bridge works taking place in West Berkshire (Junctions 13-14)