By Gerry PrewettOn Saturday, Bristol Rovers take the sort trip into Dorset to take on Southern League Dorchester Town in an FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round tie.
Once again Rovers faithful support is expected to turn up en masse to pack out the 5,000 capacity Avenue Stadium and provide a cracking atmosphere. League attendances for the Magpies are usually counted in the low hundreds so this is a big game for them.
Rovers have never faced Dorchester in a competitive fixture before but will need to be wary as Town has seen a turnaround in their fortunes recently with 3 wins and a draw in their last five games. Matt Lucas, the Chairman said this week, “The feel-good factor is gradually coming back after a well-earned FA Cup victory against a determined Hendon and recent back-to-back wins in the league.”
“The home fans have really played a huge part in this and I'm hoping the fans will once again get behind their team in a bid to make the Avenue Stadium a fortress. The supporters at this club are great and can make a huge difference, it's so good to see so many of our younger supporters adding to the atmosphere behind the goal on a match-day.”
“The home support is so important for us, and I know they will be like an extra man for their team come Saturday. As always, we need our fans in full voice. Together we can all work for the positive benefit of Dorchester Town FC. We need the fans support at every game, let’s hope they continue to get behind us.”
Dorchester were founder members of the Conference South in 2004, but were relegated to the Southern League at the end of last season after being beset by financial problems. That eventually led to the appointment of new manager Graham Kemp, who replaced long-serving Dave Simpkin in September, but Dorchester have still found life difficult in their new surroundings.
Three wins from 13 games saw them struggle in the league collecting just 11 points from the 39 on offer. By way of contrast they have beaten Yate Town, Abingdon United and Hendon in the FA Cup..
In their League game last weekend the Magpies defeated the Canaries from Hitchen. The Home Counties team took an early lead when Lewis Rolfe scored from the spot after a foul on Jonny McNamara.
It was a lead they held until just after half-time when matters took a dramatic change. Firstly hero Rolfe turned villain as a second yellow card saw him dismissed. Jack Odam then notched the equaliser for the home team.
Hitchin keeper Tahj Bell made two saves in quick succession as the hosts pushed on, while for Hitchin Dan Webb headed over the bar and Sam Barker’s shot was pushed wide.
With just five minutes of the match remaining, Dorchester finally made the breakthrough when sloppy defending let in Sam Lanahan who headed into the back of the net for what proved to be the winner.
There was still time, however, for Callum Donnelly to pick up a straight red card before the full-time whistle blew. In mid-week the Dorset team overcame Burnham 1-0, with an own goal after Andy Robison’s shot was deflected in, to gain another 3 points.
Dorchester are not strangers to FA Cup glory having a number of good runs in the FA Cup Having met Norwich City, Queens Park Rangers, Port Vale and Plymouth Argyle. In 1954, Dorchester reached the 2nd Round before eventually losing out to York City in front of 5,500 fans at the old Avenue ground, in a season where York went on to reach the semi-finals.