Robbie Blake knows all about the highs and lows of the FA Cup. And sometimes they can come in the same cup clash. The former came when the acclaimed marksman was part of the Bolton Wanderers set-up for a Wembley Stadium semi-final just two steps away from lifting the famous old trophy. The latter came at the conclusion of the 90 minutes having been walloped 5-0 by Tony Pulis’s Stoke City.
That was then and this is now — and the now sees Blake, formerly of Burnley, Leeds United and Bradford City, as assistant manager at Bognor Regis Town as the West Sussex side prepare for an FA Cup first qualifying round tie at home to Sittingbourne tomorrow (September 7). BetVictor Isthmian Premier Division Bognor, known as the Rocks, go into the game against the visitors, who arrive from a league one below them, having suffered two defeats on the spin.
But the cup, says Blake, offers his side — he is No.2 to long-serving boss Jack Pearce — a chance to forget their league woes and get a win under their belts.
Bognor recruited well in the summer and signed former Portsmouth striker Dan Smith to spearhead the attack and they will welcome back another Pompey youngster, Brad Lethbridge, who is on loan at Nyewood Lane, after he tweaked a thigh muscle which disrupted his pre-season training regime ahead of the new campaign.
And Blake, who was a coach at Fratton Park under the then boss Paul Cook (who since switched to be boss at Wigan Athletic), added:
“Brad is back and we’ll give him the chance from the start and we’re hopeful he can get back to his goal-scoring best.”
“We need a win and this a great distraction for us in many ways. We lost recently to Worthing and Carshalton Athletic and we made silly mistakes that cost us goals and we must eradicate those errors.”
“The players have lost a bit of their mojo of late but they will be up for it and so they should be. The FA Cup is the best domestic cup competition in the world, in my opinion, and every player looks forward to competing in it. If we can get a win it gives the football club a bit of prestige as well as decent prize money and it means we can try to go on a bit off a cup run.”
“A victory will also help us with our confidence and that will do no harm at all either. We’ve got to go to East Thurrock United for a league game next week so it’d be nice to take that winning feeling into that game and get back on track in the league.”