Whitehawk midfielder Sergio Torres thinks that the Hawks FA Cup First Round tie against Stourbridge will be one that both sides will believe they can win.
The Brighton-based club were pulled out of the hat alongside Evo-Stik Northern Premier League club Stourbridge, as the Hawks reached the First Round of the competition for the second consecutive year.
Torres’ side ensured safe passage into the First Round with a 1-0 win at league rivals Welling United and they are now the focus of Non-League Daily’s TeamSnap Search for a Giantkiller feature.
The Glassboys will make the long trip to the South Coast with memories of their own recent FA Cup run still fresh in the mind.
Just twelve months ago they travelled to Vanarama National League club Dover Athletic and produced a shock by knocking the Whites out of the competition.
Their prize was a home tie against Eastleigh but that was where the journey ended for the Glassboys, with the Spitfires making their way into the Third Round and a tie against Bolton Wanderers.
The Second Round was where Whitehawk’s interest in last season’s FA Cup ended in heartbreaking circumstances.
They took SkyBet League Two strugglers Dagenham and Redbridge to a replay and then into extra time, only for Ayo Obileye’s 110th minute header to send the Hawks out of the competition and dashed their hopes of a trip to Premier League Everton in the Third Round.
Now both clubs will be eyeing a repeat of those runs and Torres believes that both sides will believe they can progress beyond the First Round after being drawn against each other.
He said “I didn’t see the draw because I was coaching but I quickly found out who we had been drawn against.
“We are both non-league clubs and we know that they will fancy their chances of progressing, just the same as we do.
“Yes you would always like a Football League club, I am sure they will think the same but this gives both clubs a chance to progress into the next round and we have to make sure that we are the ones that do that”
Torres is driven on by the heartache Whitehawk suffered in last season’s FA Cup, with that late Dagenham and Redbridge ending their dreams of a money-spinning trip to Goodison Park in the Third Round.
The midfielder knows only too well what visiting a Premier League giant can do for a non-league club, after his 2011 visit to Old Trafford, as his Crawley side bravely went down to a 1-0 defeat against a Manchester United side containing the likes of John O’Shea, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney.
Now, at the age of thirty five, Torres is targeting another shot at a Premier League club.
“Last year was brilliant, it was massive to get Whitehawk into the first round for the first time in their history.
“We want to repeat that but we don’t want to be left gutted that we have missed out on a Third Round game at a big club.
“I am 35 now and I don’t know how many times I will get a chance to play against a Premier League club.
“That is the magic of the FA Cup, I had it when I was at Crawley and we went to play Manchester United.
“It gives players a chance to play the very best players and this year we have to try and make sure we are not left disappointed, starting with the First Round game”
A lot has changed at Whitehawk in the past twelve months.
Steve King, the manager that led them to the Second Round last season, has departed the club, as has his replacement Pablo Asensio.
The Brazilian coach left the Enclosed Ground after a poor start to the current campaign and was replaced by former Eastleigh manager Richard Hill.
And Hill quickly set about making major changes to his playing staff, signing seven of his former Spitfires players(with two on loan) and releasing seven players from the Hawks squad.
The club currently sit in sixteenth position in the Vanarama National League South table, seven points clear of the relegation zone.
And Torres is impressed with what Hill has put in place in his short time at the club.
“The changes the manager has made have worked really well.
“His first game we were losing 2-1 but came back to win and that gave us confidence that we maybe didn’t have.
“We have a little bit of momentum and that will help us in the FA Cup.
“We all know what we have to do, the manager makes sure we do, and now what we have to do is get through to the next round.
“But that won’t be easy”
Interview: Mark Carruthers (@marknldaily)