Braintree Inspired By Hawks Run

One of only three teams from outside the Blue Square Premier still left in the FA Trophy, Braintree face the current top-rated team in non-league football in Aldershot Town this Saturday afternoon, kick off 3pm.

But while The Iron's FA Trophy Third Round trip to the Recreation Ground will hardly compair with Havant's FA Cup heroics against Liverpool, Braintree's boss Lee Patterson believes his players should try and follow the example set by Blue Square South colleages in their pursuit of an upset and a Quarter Final place.

"Looking at the way Havant & Waterlooville conducted themselves against Liverpool was fantastic for the league and for non-league football as a whole," Patterson told BBC Sport.

"At the end of the day fitness and Premier League quality came out on top but Liverpool gave Havant a lot of respect and they showed that down to non-league level there are some exceptionally good players.

"Richard Pacquette was released by Worthing a couple of months ago and there he was scoring in front of the Kop.

"Aldershot are not Liverpool but this is a fantastic opportunity for us. My encouragement to the players will be that they are playing in front of 3,000 people and to prove what good footballers they are."

Like Havant, Braintree's squad is made up of part-timers, some of whom started their careers at professional clubs.

Among them are captain and player-assistant manager Darren Quinton, who was at Tottenham as a youngster but is now approaching a testimonial at Cressing Road along with defender Mark Jones, who started at Southend United.

Goalkeeper Nicky Morgan is another former Southend junior, while midfielder Micky Shinn was on the books at Cambridge United in their Football League days.

"We have got a very good blend, a mix of experienced players and some young and hungry players," said Patterson, a London-based firefighter.

"A lot have been at pro clubs in their younger days and most players at this level of non-league football have that kind of background because they have got ability."

If Braintree have their way they may one day be a League club themselves with plans having just been launched for a new £10m, 6,000-seater stadium on the outskirts of the Essex town.

The club, which emerged from the local works team of Crittals and whose former players include ex-Scotland international John Dick, 1978 FA Cup winner Roger Osborne and Brighton's Southend-bound striker Alex Revell, has to climb a couple of divisions first.

A repeat of last season's play-off finish will be difficult from their current mid-table position but Patterson, who replaced George Borg as manager earlier this season, has not given up on it yet.

He added: "The club has massive ambitions and I want to be part of it. If you look at pictures of the new stadium it looks magnificent.

"It's something to strive for, but it's all about now. It's no good looking at 2012 if I can't deliver in 2008."

In the short term, Braintree will make a piece of history if they can reach the Trophy Quarter Finals for the first time.

They have negotiated three hurdles so far in equalling their best ever run in the competition, including a replay win at Workington in the last round, but now face their biggest test yet.

"We had a tough game at Workington with a 700-mile round trip when I think some people expected us to lose but we went there and did a professional job," Patterson said.

"Aldershot will be a different kettle of fish. They are top of the league for a reason and we will go there as underdogs. There is no pressure on us and we want to enjoy it. But we want to try and win the game.

"If we could progress to the last eight it would be fantastic for us. It will be difficult, but at the moment it's 0-0.

"Aldershot have had a couple of indifferent results lately and might decide that the league has become more important. I hope they put out their reserves!"

Reporter: Pete Oliver

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_conf/7218269.stm