08:47PM, Monday 26 April 2021
Marcus Richardson said it was a surreal feeling to help Flackwell Heath make club history by reaching the FA Vase quarterfinals for the very first time on Saturday.
The Heathens won 4-2 at Plymouth Parkway in sweltering conditions, with Mitchell Parker scoring one of the goals of the round to guide the side through to a meeting with United Services Portsmouth in the final eight.
Again, the Heathens will have to travel away from home for the tie on Saturday but, should they prevail they’d face either Long Eaton United or Hellenic League rivals Binfield for a place in the final at Wembley.
Jack Taylor fired the visitors ahead midway through the first half, following in a shot that could only be parried, but the home side managed to get back on level terms before the interval in an even first half. Richardson felt his side assume control of the tie in the second half and Parker’s magnificent strike put them 2-1 ahead before Simeon Weekes ran through to give them a two-goal cushion on his 50th appearance. Nerves were frayed when Parkway, who’d been reduced to 10 men in the second half, scored a second, but man-of-the-match James Mansfield capped off a memorable day for the club with a fourth in injury-time.
Reflecting on the achievement this week, Richardson said: “It’s getting more surreal, the situation we’re in with this run. We fell asleep a bit to allow them to make it 3-2 but, to be fair, I always thought that we’d hang on anyway.
“They may have just shaded the first half, but in the second half we managed to nullify them, and I thought we took control of the game and got stronger as it went on.
“I’m just buzzing for the club and the players and everyone that’s involved with Flackwell Heath.
“We’re creating a few miracles and something for the history books of Flackwell. I just want to go on creating history and see how far we can go. We’re only two matches from Wembley.”
Having taken out one of the competition’s stronger sides on paper, Richardson feels his Heathens have as much chance as anyone of going on to reach Wembley. They now face a United Services Portsmouth side who defeated Tavistock 3-1 at the weekend.
“When we got to the round of 32, I started to believe that anything was possible,” said Richardson. “Anyone is capable of going all the way at this point.
“There is no one left in the competition who is not thinking they don’t stand a chance. We’ll take it one step at a time.
“I have one or two people finding out information for me. I’ve also been watching videos and I’ve got to do what I can to find out what I can about them.
“They’ll be doing the same, but you’ve got to be smart and clever in how you go about it to ensure you can give the best possible account of yourself.
“I’m happy we’ve done as well as we can, but I still feel we have a lot to offer. You start to feel this is possible.
“Wembley isn’t that far away. It’s only two games now and you start to think, can we do something that’s never been done at Flackwell before.
“Parkway were the second favourites and we’ve beaten them. We’ve done our homework and we’re willing to do the hard work to give ourselves the best chance.”
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)