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Atherstone v Nuneaton - Preview

Fierce local rivals Nuneaton Borough and Atherstone United lock horns in the FA Cup Second Qualifying Round on Saturday and a full house crowd of around 2,000 is expected at Sheepy Road.

The rivalry between the clubs goes back many years and there is more needle this season than in most because Borough sit proudly at the top of the Dr Martens League Premier Division while United have been steadily climbing the league.

Both managers are cagey going into the cup tie and there was some pre-match psychology being applied from both camps.

Ron Bradbury, United's wily manager and veteran of many such contests, says:

"Nuneaton are a big club with plenty of money to buy good players. They have a bit more quality and they have to be favourites."

But Borough's boss Brendan Phillipps scoffs:

"They are every bit as big as us, they have a lot of experience at this level and they have ground advantage. It is a dangerous scenario for us."

Whatever the pre-match hype however, most people are agreed that a mighty clash is in prospect. Sheepy Road will be bursting at the seams and it is estimated that Borough's travelling following will be around 1,500.

Phillips says:

"Everywhere I go in Nuneaton people are talking about this match. It is a big game and it will be an emotionally charged game. It is vital for us to have a good Cup run to help our club's finances."

Richard Gardner has an outside chance of returning to Nuneaton 's side after a hamstring injury and if he is fit he will be the only change.

Atherstone is seething with excitement at the mouthwatering prospect of this match. Ron Bradbury says:

"The nearer we have got to the end of the week the more excitement has been generated.

"There is no tension in our camp. Football is all about big games and if you can't take the pressure you might as well give up."

A blow for Atherstone is that their reliable centreback Paul Olner is suspended for this match after being sent off two weeks ago. His place in this match will go to David Hart.

United go into the match with a slight edge on league clashes last season. They drew with Borough at home on Boxing Day and then beat them at Manor Park. But the previous season Borough won both games.

Bradbury says:

"This match will be won by the team which wants it more on the day. I can vouch for my lads giving one hundred per cent and if desire is enough to win this tie then we will get there."

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