BOSS Phil Harding believes Chapeltown Fforde Grene could go all the way in this year’s FA Sunday Cup given the crucial ingredient of luck, writes FORREST HAMILTON.
Fforde booked their place in this year’s quarter-finals with a thrilling 3-2 win against Thornhill Lees in extra time at Overthorpe Sports Club on Sunday.
The Chapeltown outfit will host Sunderland side Humbledon Plains Farm in the quarter finals and even with Oyster Martyrs still going strong, Harding sees no reason why Fforde cannot bag three more famous wins to become national champions.
Chapeltown already have history in the competition and Harding was part of the side which lost 1-0 in a semi final at Anfield in the 1990s, thus missing out on a trip to the Old Wembley for the final.
Fforde also got to the semis four years ago, losing to the powerhouse of reigning champions Oyster Martyrs.
But this is new ground since the Chapeltown Brazil and Fforde Grene merger in 2011. Harding mused: “I think we can beat any team on our day. We have some quality players but I think it comes down to having a bit of luck at the right time.
“We’re just going to take it one game at a time, we’ve got a very busy schedule coming up with the league and other cups, but this is definitely our main focus.” Harding says his men were “devastated” when conceding a late equaliser in Sunday’s last 16 tie, only for Dominic Noteman to put Fforde back on cloud nine on extra time.
Chapeltown dominated the game for long periods but it was Thornhill who went in front when their opportunistic forward nipped ahead of the keeper to slot home.
The second half brought a renewed Chapeltown effort and they were soon level when Edair Ruiz nestled a shot into the bottom corner.
The attacks kept coming and the Leeds Combination League title chasers were in front ten minutes later through a Fernando Moke strike.
But despite a resolute Chapeltown defence, Thornhill snatched a dramatic equaliser with the last kick of the game, the strike taking a wicked deflection to send the game into extra time.
Despite this setback, Chapeltown re-grouped admirably and scored what proved to be the winner five minutes into extra time, Harding playing in Noteman who finished coolly.
“I thought we played really well,” said Harding, who was full of praise for gutsy Thornhill Lees.
“It was a very tough game but we defended well and played some really good stuff going forward. Their equaliser was absolutely devastating for us but the lads showed great character to come back from that. I think we deserved to win. The whole team played so well, the likes of Daniel Freeman, Shaun Ward, Craig Harding and Anthony Williamson were all superb and the rest weren’t far behind.”
All roads now lead to the last eight tie with Humbledon Plains Farm on Sunday, February 16. Humbledon won the competition in 1990 and have emerged victorious in all six of their league games this season.
Harding added: “I’ve heard they’re a top side, obviously it’s not going to be an easy game but you just never know what is going to happen.”