Ramshaw: Buxton clash could be hardest so far for Poppies
Kettering Town are one win away from reaching the first round proper of the Emirates FA Cup for the first time in 10 years.
But assistant-manager John Ramshaw has warned that they will have to come through one of their toughest games of the season so far if they are to join the Sky Bet League One and League Two clubs in Sunday afternoon's live televised draw.
Having seen off Spalding United and National League North rivals Leamington, both after replays in the second and third qualifying rounds respectively, the Poppies take on Northern Premier League high-flyers Buxton in the fourth and final qualifying stage at Latimer Park tomorrow (Saturday).
But, despite having home advantage against a team from one level below, Ramshaw isn’t fooled by the test facing his team.
Buxton are yet to be beaten in any competition so far this season and have former Kettering players Lindon Meikle, Nathan Fox and Ben Milnes in their ranks.
And, in a story published and then subsequently deleted on the Buxton Advertiser website last week, Buxton boss Gary Hayfield said: “Now we are really going to have a go at Kettering. I don't even mind getting a draw down there and bringing them back to Silverlands on the carpet as we would pass them to death.
“They only play long ball, so hopefully Ben Turner will be fit for it as he will win everything in the air. That will give us a lot of strength.
“We have nothing to fear from them. We will go there, be professional, and get a result.”
There is, however, plenty of confidence in the Kettering camp as well after they battled away to earn a 0-0 draw with Chester last weekend, despite having to play with 10 men for over 35 minutes after Kyle Perry was sent-off.
But Ramshaw is also wary of the challenge.
“It will be a difficult game, let’s not beat around the bush,” the Poppies assistant-manager said.
“You look at Buxton’s team and they have good players, there’s no two ways about it. They have a chairman who is prepared to invest in good players so it won’t be easy.
“It could be our hardest game of the season so far.
“But we are at home and if the fans get behind us like they did last weekend, they are our 12th man and they lift the players. We are optimistic about our chances.”
The Poppies attracted a crowd of 1,014 to Latimer Park last Saturday - their highest home attendance since their return to the National League North.
And Ramshaw added: “I think the word is getting around, the word is getting about that it’s a good Saturday afternoon’s entertainment down here.
“You can come down here and get a good pint of beer and watch a team trying their utmost to get results for the club.
“Word is definitely getting around and we hope they are out in force again on Saturday.”