Cup fever has taken over East Surrey, as Carshalton Athletic prepare for their first appearance in the FA Cup proper in over 20 years.
Carshalton Athletic will take on National League North side Boston United in the FA Cup First Round on Saturday 9th November. The Robins will be aiming to continue their incredible run in the competition following wins against Bracknell Town, Harrow Borough, Lowestof Town and the huge scalp of Dagenham & Redbridge last month.
Ahead of one of the club’s biggest games of the last decade, we spoke to Player-Manager Peter Adeniyi about the club’s success in the competition and who those attending the War Memorial Ground for the first time should look out for.
You’ve been with the club for three and a half seasons now and had some great successes along the way. Where does this achievement rank for you?
“It’s up there. As you can imagine, it’s what every Non-League club and player dreams of – hopefully playing one of the big boys. Boston are at a similar level to ourselves so I guess both teams will be hoping to win the game on Saturday and progress [to a] dream tie to one of the big boys away from home. It is obviously brilliant for the club and for the fans and everyone involved, including the management team.”
This is the club’s first venture into the FA Cup proper in over 20 years. Talk me through your run to the first round?
“Apparently so! We started at Bracknell away and we won that game 2-0. It was a tough place to go to but luckily they play on a 3G surface which is similar to ourselves which makes it a little bit easier when you’re playing away from home. We quite like 3G, it’s what we train and play on.
In the round after that we were drawn away again to Harrow Borough. We won that game 1-0 and had to play the large majority it with ten men in the second half after our central defender was sent off. We managed to defend for the best part of 40 minutes and held on to our lead.
Thereafter, another away tie to Lowestof, which made me think is it going to be away, away, away [for all of our cup run]! But that was a great weekend. We went up on the Friday and stayed overnight. It was a difficult game, a difficult place to go to. But we came out of that one with a 2-1 win, only conceding in injury time.”
The result against Peter Taylor’s Dagenham & Redbridge was huge. Talk us through that game and your emotions when Ricky Korboa netted the winner in the 85th minute?
“We were fortunate enough that it was a home tie. I believe our experience last season in the FA Trophy against Barnet gave us quite a lot of confidence that we could hold our own. That was the message that I relayed to the players – that we had nothing to be fearful of. Obviously, we had to respect them. They’re a very good team playing well in the National League. I believe we have players who should be playing at that level at a minimum and who can cause a bit of a threat as long as we are able to keep them out of our goal for as long as possible! We had to play slightly different from how we would normally play against teams at a higher level but you have to respect the people that you’re playing against. It was a privilege to be standing alongside Peter Taylor. I’m always trying to learn from people who have gone before me. And watching someone who has been doing it for so many years was a privilege!
Photo by Ian Gerrard
The boys put in a hell of a performance and we managed to get a 2-1 win. The best thing was taking a 1-0 lead and then being pegged back to 1-1. I think at that point most people would think [Dagenham] would go on to win it or drag us back to their place on a Tuesday night which wouldn’t be ideal with [our players] working coming up against a full-time team. But we managed to nick it with five minutes to go with an incredible goal. I was on the pitch at that point! I believed that we could nick it at any point in the game and when that went in the first question I asked the ref was how much time there was left. The worst case scenario was another ten minutes [to play after 85], let’s just hang in there and throw our bodies in the way. Even I myself threw my body in the way of one of the shots on target.
Everyone just played their part and I couldn’t be prouder of the boys on the day. When the final whistle went, that was one of the best moments in the 21 seasons that I’ve been playing football. To see the smiles on everyone’s faces afterwards; the supporters, the management team, the players, the chairman, the backroom staff, the bar staff and all the volunteers. The place was just buzzing that evening!”
You might not know a lot about the opposition on Saturday. How has that affected your preparation for Saturday’s game?
“It hasn’t really. What we try to do is learn in-game, what we’ve tried to do over the years is to become adaptable as quickly as possible. Our players know that we have a number of ways of playing and what we try to do is work out what we are playing against as quickly as possible, within the first 10-15 minutes and see where their strengths and weaknesses lie.
"We’re the underdogs but we’re just going to go out there and enjoy the occasion"
From my first season we’ve tried to create a culture where players are comfortable in a number of formations and positions. That enables us to adjust as quickly as we need to and to try and what we need to get out of the game. We don’t know much about Boston, it’s a little bit of the unknown. But I feel if we play our game offensively and defensively then hopefully we can pick up a positive result.
Do you think you have a good opportunity to progress through to the second round?
It’s a game of football, unless we’re playing Man City! I’d give us a chance against a team the level above us. Obviously, we’re the underdogs but we’re just going to go out there and enjoy the occasion and put on a performance that the club and supporters can be proud of.
What kind of attendances are you attracting to your normal home games? And are you hoping to see a packed house on Saturday afternoon?
It’s slowly increased over the years. We’re now averaging 450 which isn’t too bad for our level of football. Saturday we should hopefully draw more than that. What we’re trying to do is create is build a community club and just want to develop a place where families and young people can come and enjoy a Saturday afternoon. It’s a lovely ground to attend and we do try and make it enjoyable for everyone who comes through the gates.
The magic of the Cup is that it does draw in fans who might not normally come and watch you and hopefully we’ll be able to retain a few of those by putting in the kind of performance that we have been this season.”
For those who might not be regulars to the War Memorial Sports Ground, who are the players in your side to be looking out for?
“I’m fortunate enough to work with a fantastic bunch of young players. Ricky Korboa is definitely one to watch out for. Christie Pattisson is another young player that’s doing really well. Tommy Bradford is effectively a club legend already at the age of 24. [He’s] scored over 100 goals for this club.
Those three definitely, but they’re supported by Ernold Haxhiu. He’s only 18 years old, came in during pre-season and has been a revelation ever since. Everyone plays their part but those four for me at the ones to look out for because of their age, and [because] they could move on in the game. You’ve got the club captain Paris Hamilton-Downes and Bobby Price – the defenders don’t often get a lot of credit! Our goalkeeper Kleton Perntreou – his kicking is something out of this world. It’s like having Ederson at Man City in goal with his distribution.
If we’re destined to go through, then we will. If not then we’ve had a great run!”
The Robins game kicks off at 3pm on Saturday 9th November. Full information for the game is available here.