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Dean Brennan's Pre-Match Thoughts

Ahead of our FA Cup second qualifying round tie against Farnborough on Saturday afternoon, Dec O’Reilly spoke to Dean Brennan to gather the manager’s thoughts ahead of our visit to the Cherrywood Stadium.

Squad update…

“Kavan [Cotter] is injured at the moment, I think he’ll be out for another week or so. He has a slight hamstring issue so we need to be cautious with it. Hopefully he’s back as soon as possible.

“We have news on Ryan Sellers. He saw a specialist in Harley Street last week through the PFA and he’ll be out for about eight weeks. He had an operation last March and he just came back too quick and went too hard during pre-season.

“We have a timeline for him [Ryan Sellers] now, he has a cyst inside his knee so not crazy damage but will still be out for eight weeks. Hopefully we’ll have him back before Christmas.”

On Farnborough…

“Farnborough are quite an open and expansive side. They have a lot of speed and ability in a very young dangerous team. They are playing in the county cup tonight [Wednesday] so I’ll be able to watch them first-hand, I’m not sure if they will rotate tonight or not if they don’t have a big enough squad, we’ll see what they do tonight with their team selection.

“There’s no doubt Farnborough will run their socks off, there are young players out there looking to make a name for themselves against a team top of the table. The odds are stacked against us mentally, they have everything to gain and no matter what happens, they are not expected to win. We’re expected to turn up and win, football just doesn’t work like that.

“We’ll approach this game like we’ll approach any other one. Playing a team away, we’ll give them the same respect as any team we’ve played. You do need a bit of luck in the cup, we’ve all been there and seen it before. Some teams have beaten teams above them and some teams have lost to teams below them, we need to make sure that doesn’t happen to us.

“To do that we have to have the same application of work rate, mental attitude and the same approach to keep driving each other forward. We’ll take the game to Farnborough, that’s how we’ll approach the game. We have to make sure we work harder than the opposition.”

On how special the FA Cup is…

“It is really special. This is what you get, you have Farnborough who are mid-table in their division [BetVictor Southern Premier South] playing against top of the division above. That’s the magic of it, in this competition anyone can beat anyone.

“You think of Sutton United when they got to the fifth round as a National League side three seasons ago; you think of Lincoln City under the Cowley brothers who got to the quarter-finals as a National League side and beat Burnley away who are a Premier League side.

“Even last season, Dowse [Alan Dowson] took Woking to the third round and played Watford. When you think about that, the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Torquay lost to Woking earlier in the competition, because of that added distraction for Woking, it could have been a huge factor for Torquay winning the league.

“It can be a distraction but that all comes down to mentality and focus. It is a special competition and we want to win Saturday like we want to win every game. Like I said at Welling, we are looking for perfection in our performances and we will continue to strive to do that.

“There are plenty of teams in our division that have ties against teams in the division below this weekend. There’s no doubt you’ll see three [or] four teams from our division go out of the competition, we’ve got to make sure we’re not one of them.”

On Dean’s standout moments in the competition…

“The year we won the league with Hemel [Hempstead] in the twenty-thirteen-fourteen season, we played Witham Town away in a replay and with five minutes to go we were three-one down, we were going out the competition. In the ninety-fourth minute, we were four-three up, that’s how crazy this competition can be.

“I remember we went to Nuneaton with Hemel in twenty-fourteen and got a replay where we beat them in extra time when they were in the league above. Later that year we played Bury away in the first round and that was one-all in the eighty-eighth minute but Bury won three-one. That’s what happens in this competition, we’ve all been there and seen it.

“Even last season with Billericay we played Taunton in the fourth qualifying round. We were totally dominant within the game and Taunton had a chance to win the game late in injury time where they hit the crossbar, they also missed a penalty within the game. You need bits of luck within the competition.”

On how far we can get in the competition…

“We all want to get to the third round but to get there you have to win five games first. We have to continue what we’re doing which is [take] one game at a time, respect the opposition for who they are and be ready.

“The competition is brilliant for non-league clubs and supporters. The FA decided to double the prize money recently which is great, I believe even losing teams get prize money in the qualifying rounds. Credit to the FA for that because it is a magical competition and anything can happen in it.”

On finding improvements in our performance…

“If you told me we didn’t play well but won on Saturday, I’d take it because in the cup nothing else matters other than winning. You always want performances right but I’d rather [have] the luck in the cup because that gets you into the next round.

“There could be a red card incident [or] there are loads of different things that can happen that can knock you out of the competition that we need to stay in. I’d rather we were playing league games with the form we are in right now but it’s exciting though, we are looking forward to it.”


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