Men's First Team
The Emirates FA Cup Second Round Proper · Att: 9118 Sat 26 November Racecourse Ground
  • Mullin (49', 81', 89')
  • Lee (77')
  • Pendlebury (62')

Farnborough are in The Emirates FA Cup Second Round Proper for the first time in Club history.

Standing in the way of a place in the Third Round Proper are full-time National League outfit Wrexham. Undoubtedly a tough challenge, but one Holmes is relishing: “Everyone wants to leave a legacy at every club they go to, if you’re a professional or not. In my first year in full Coaching – I know I’ve done six months last year – we’ve got into the Second Round Proper.

“We’ve got a chance. We’ve 100% got a chance of beating Wrexham. They’re a National League team a League above us. We beat a professional team in League Two. We’ll go there and definitely give ourselves a chance.”

Boro seem to enjoy the underdog title, having recorded some impressive wins in various League and Cup competitions throughout 2022. The veteran is hopeful of causing another upset: “I’m not saying that it’s definitely going to happen, but I’m quietly confident that we can go there and not get rolled over.

“If we take our chances – which we will get, because we’re too good going forward not to – and defend and ride our luck, then we’ve definitely got a chance in getting a result. Hopefully exactly the same as we did against Sutton, which I think we thoroughly deserved.”

With such a great occasion on the horizon for the Club, Holmes insists these are the games the players want to be involved in, adding to the competition for starting places: “We haven’t got the biggest squad. I’d say we’ve probably got the smallest squad in the League, but a really good tight-knit group which are going to get treated like professionals.

“I was lucky enough to have twelve years of it. These boys haven’t experienced it, because of their age or they’ve been unfortunate not to make it to full-time football.

“We’re going up the night before, doing it as professionally as we can to give us the best opportunity to get a result. I think for the young boys, if they realise this is a little bit of the icing on the cake to become a professional footballer, it will definitely spur them in the right direction.”

With the a number of youngsters in the squad, the former Sheffield United man also emphasised the importance of the experienced players in the dressing room: “It’s vital. I remember a couple of my Manager’s in the past saying; you don’t win anything with a group of kids, because they haven’t got the knowhow throughout the whole season to get results and sustain it. You get flashes for six games and then they usually have to come out for a game and then they go back in and they’re electric again.

“We’ve got enough experience in the dressing room to rally round the boys and really give it a go. I hope for them, as much as myself, that we can really get a result.”

Both teams are on incredible runs in all competitions. Something’s got to give. The 34-year-old feels that breaking the cycle of midweek games could stand his side in good stead this weekend: “The rest was key. Our fixture list has been relentless, with a few journeys in there aswell.

“I know their squad is probably double the size of ours, but we’ll go there refreshed, revitalised and really enjoying the occasion. The dream is to play in these big games when you’re a little boy and hopefully we can carry that through.”

National League table toppers Wrexham have one of the top goalscorers in the Division in Paul Mullin. Strike-partner Ollie Palmer will no doubt be a handful too, but Holmes thinks the pressure will be off the hosts: “I’d say the pressure’s definitely still on us. We’re going up against two lads – I’ve played against them over the years – who shouldn’t be at the level, let’s be honest. They’re there because of the financial backing and the ambition the Club have of achieving, which is great.

“It’s unbelievable, so fair play to the players and to the Club for being of that stature where they can take Paul Mullin – top scorer in League One. They can take Ollie Palmer – who’s been around the block for League One, League Two level as well – and put them on long-term contracts.

“Everyone will say that people will go there for the money. Of course it’s the money – we do that in every walk of life – but it’s also the Club’s ambition to where they want to go. Like I said before, you want to be a part of history and I’m sure that’s where they want to be.”

With the Racecourse Stadium expected to be near capacity in the home end and with the game infront of the TV cameras, it will certainly provide a new experience for all involved with the Club. When asked how players focus their minds to the game of football, Holmes responded: “It’s just another game of football. I know it’s as cliché as it sounds, but it is. It’s the same, it’s eleven versus eleven out there, on the green stuff with a round leather thing to chase around.

“The occasion can get to people, but I hope we enjoy it rather than tighten up. We have had the conversation with the boys, because I think for ten minutes at Sutton we were very nervous and we grew into the game. We can’t have that because this team will blow us away with the quality they’ve got going forward.

“So we’ve got to go there and just enjoy the occasion and don’t get nervous. If we are nervous, we’ve got to use that energy as a positive and use it for energy going forward.”

A couple hundred Farnborough supporters will be heading to north Wales on Saturday. Ricky had the following message for them, ahead of this special occasion: “It’s fantastic, isn’t it? Fantastic support they’ve shown us throughout the season, especially in the FA Cup. Hopefully we can have more of the same, wherever they sit, of the fans that turned up against Sutton in their numbers with that atmosphere.

“It really spurs us along and hopefully we can keep the ten thousand Wrexham fans quiet and we can hear our boys. I just want to say thank you to them and hopefully we can put on a show and get the result.”