“It’s everything the FA Cup’s all about” - Pontefract Collieries boss Rouse on facing FC Halifax Town in cup clash
Pontefract Collieries manager Craig Rouse says Saturday’s fourth qualifying round clash against FC Halifax Town is what the FA Cup is all about.
The match is arguably the biggest game the hosts have ever staged at their Regional Electrical Service Ltd stadium, which has a 1,460 capacity, and looks set to be played in-front of a club record crowd.
Pontefract are 15th in the Northern Premier League Division One East and have reached this stage in the FA Cup for the first time in their history, knocking out Handsworth, Squires Gate, Barnoldswick Town and Goole, scoring 13 goals in the process.
Manager Rouse has a 12 year association with the club, having played for them and spent three-and-a-half seasons as assistant manager. This is his first season in charge of the side.
“It’s certainly the biggest game I’ve been involved in at the club, the fact it’s looking like it’s heading towards a sell-out, that’s never happened,” he said.
“It’s the fourth qualifying round, it’s a West Yorkshire derby, it’s everything the FA Cup’s all about really.
“It’s one we’re looking forward to.
“Previous to this the furthest the club’s ever got is the second qualifying round, so we’d created history getting to the third qualifying round, and then to win that sets another record.
“It’s unknown territory for us. We probably plucked out one of the toughest draw that we could have when you look at the table.
“But that’s what the FA Cup’s all about, you pit your wits against better teams and see where you are at the end of it.”
When asked how his side can overcome The Shaymen on Saturday, Rouse said: “We’ll try and come up with a plan to try and nullify their threats.
“I’ve been to watch Halifax in their last couple of games and they have got a lot of threats, they’re a really good side.
“We’ll try and nullify what they do while trying to pose one or two threats ourselves.
“I don’t want to set the team up just to be ultra-defensive and try and stifle the game because if you do that you can still get beat and then you go out with a few regrets about what could have happened if you’d had a go.
“So we want to try and have a go, try and do what we do and if it’s not good enough on the day, so be it, but who knows, the magic of the FA Cup, you just never know.”
Rouse says his message to his players will be to savour the experience but give it everything they’ve got.
“Embrace the occasion really, don’t let it pass you by, enjoy the day,” he said.
“There’s certainly no pressure from us, we want to go out and enjoy the occasion, it’s a big game for the club and the town, but we want to do ourselves justice on the pitch,
“We’ll only remember the day if we go out and reflect what we can do well.
“We had a game on Tuesday and certainly didn’t do that for large parts. We started imposing ourselves in the last 20, 25 minutes and showed more of what we’re all about, so w have to do that for longer periods.
“But we want to enjoy the occasion more than anything and make sure that, when the game ends, we’ve reflected what we can do well.”
Follow all the action from Saturday’s game on our live blog on the Courier website, where there will also be an on-the-whistle match report and post-match reaction from Town boss Pete Wild.