TILBURY’S Player/Assistant Manager, Danny Smith, is confident the Dockers are more than equipped if their BBC Essex Senior Cup Semi-Final at East Thurrock United goes to penalties, with the St Chad’s Road club looking back on three consecutive shootout victories so far in the competition.
The draw for the final four was broadcast on Wednesday 18th January from BBC Essex’s Chelmsford studios and Smith was present to pull out the home clubs, while Glenn Speller from the station’s Sports Team was responsible for the away teams. Both Semi-Finals see Vanarama National League South clubs host Ryman North opposition as Chelmsford City entertain Heybridge Swifts in the last hurdle before a showpiece final.
East Thurrock defeated Colchester United 2-0 in the Quarter-Finals, and have also beaten AFC Hornchurch (3-0) and Bowers & Pitsea (6-1). But Tilbury’s path has been substantially closer, winning all three of their ties so far on penalties. And, with their next challengers having drawn half or their league games this season, Smith knows another stalemate is possible. “We’ve done well on penalties so far this year,” he said.
“If we get to another penalty shootout, we’ll be more than confident we can get through that. We’ve been in front and behind in games and we’ve got a ‘never say die’ attitude. We’ve been pegged back and been on the receiving end as well this year. It’s a nice way to win and a horrible way to lose. We’ll see what happens!”
“Ideally we’d have liked Heybridge at home as they’re the same division as us. They’d have said exactly the same but the draw is the draw. East Thurrock are a very good club and I’ve got a lot of respect for them. I’m very friendly with their Management Team and know a few of their players, so I’ll be looking forward to that night. We’ll give it our best shot.”
The competition has played a part in their overall progress as they hunt for a play-off place, and Danny explains how the victories have boosted their dressing room: “We’ve played in the Senior Cup after a poor performance and getting through has given us confidence and the belief that we can achieve something. Last year we got to the Quarter-Finals, this year we’ve gone one better so far and we’re really looking forward to trying to get ourselves to a final.”
As well as the South Essex derby, Chelmsford, winners by two goals to nil against Braintree Town, welcome Heybridge. The Clarets are on great form and have just booked a last-16 Buildbase FA Trophy tie at Tranmere Rovers. Last year’s runners-up, Swifts, are in the lower reaches of their division and will be looking to go one better in 2017 after coming up short last season against Concord Rangers.
Those ties will be played on or before 11th February. Full BBC Essex Senior Cup details can be found at www.essexfa.com, while live match updates are posted on Twitter by @EssexCountyFA. You can also follow the competition by searching for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook.
BBC Essex Senior Cup Semi-Finals (on or before 11th February)
Chelmsford City vs Heybridge Swifts
East Thurrock United vs Tilbury