No big tie for Cray Valley PM but Eltham’s FA Cup side hopeful of first-round upset

Cray Valley Paper Mills at Maidenhead United
The Millers will travel to Havant & Waterlooville in the FA Cup

Eltham’s Cray Valley PM football club may not have landed a big name in their first ever FA Cup first round match – but they are still hopeful of causing an upset when they play Havant & Waterlooville next month.

The Millers, who play in the eighth tier of English football, made history on Saturday when they beat National League side Maidenhead United 3-2 in a qualifying round, getting them through to the first round for the first time in the club’s history.

While they went into the live TV draw alongside the likes of Charlton, Sunderland and Ipswich, the club ended up with a tie against a fellow non-league side – away to Havant & Waterlooville of National League South, two divisions above.

Sunderland actually followed Cray Valley in the draw – but only to set up their own tie with Mansfield.

But goalkeeper Joe Docherty – whose penalty save at Maidenhead helped Cray Valley on their way to victory – is looking forward to the trip to Hampshire.

“I think it’s a great draw. We have shown our character and what we can achieve. We do have to be realistic and understand the possibilities. The FA Cup is made for upsets and we have the quality and ability within the squad,” he said.

“Of course we knew there were big teams in the draw, but we also knew non- league teams were in it too. It’s the FA Cup and I know we can do this.”

Club captain and fellow keeper Andy Walker added: “I think first and foremost it’s winnable, similar to the Maidenhead tie really, and it isn’t a bad draw if you go and win it. The draw’s only as good or bad as your performance on the day when you play it.

“The boys would have wanted the biggest club that they could get, and given that there will be no fans, you’d want them away. But it wasn’t to be so let’s go there and win and get that in the second round. As we’ve learned over the last few years, anything can happen and we’re still a part of it.”

The Millers play in the Isthmian League South Eastern Division, at a level which is still allowing fans to watch matches, despite the coronavirus restrictions that have seen bigger clubs play behind closed doors. Saturday’s win had the Millers dreaming of a big club at the Badgers Sports Ground on Middle Park Avenue, and being able to allow fans in. But the FA has ruled that all first round matches must be behind closed doors.

Charlton Athletic were drawn at home to Plymouth Argyle, while Bromley will play Yeovil Town. All first-round matches will be played between 4-7 November.


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