WEMBLEY got up and running in this year’s FA Cup at the weekend – and they did it without the help of last year’s galaxy of stars.
Alex Mokeni-Kane netted an 86th minute winner as the Lions ran out winners against AFC Kempston Rovers in the extra preliminary round.
The likes of David Seaman, Ray Parlour, Brian McBridge, Graeme Le Saux, Martin Keown and Claudio Caniggia all turned out for Wembley in last year’s competition thanks to a link up with drinks giant Budweiser.
But the old pros have not returned this season and Ian Bates’ boys showed they can put in the hard graft in the 1-0 win over Rovers on Saturday. Club chairman Brian Gumm told the Observer: “The first half could have been anyone’s to be honest but we controlled the second half and played very well at the back. We managed to break them down and got a little bit of luck with the deflection but it went in.
“It [the link up with the international superstars] has happened, it’s done now and we’ve gained from it. It has been a positive experience for everybody here and has set us up going forward. We’ve still got the sponsorship for another year as well.”
The win over Kempston sets up a preliminary round tie with Ryman League side Ware, giving the Lions a chance for revenge after the Hertfordshire side put them out of the cup in 2007.
Gumm added: “They’re a pretty good side but we are just taking it one step at a time. The FA Cup is the FA Cup and it’s all about who plays better on the day. You just have to take your chances, if you do that then you’ll win.
“Any amount of money helps out, but it’s not all about the money, you want to win the games. It’s about building confidence and building a side for the season. Ian is still working hard and making changes.
“Ian knows he needs a striker and is trying to get somebody in but it’s difficult. He is working hard on it though, all of the players are working hard as well and I can’t fault the effort.”
Meanwhile, in Hellenic League Division One East, a brace from Jamel Mattan and one from Julian Smith saw Rayners Lane beat Woodley Town 3-1 on Tuesday night.