Big day for AFC Mansfield as they head to Chadderton for FA Vase tie

AFC Mansfield face one of the biggest games in the club’s brief history this weekend when they travel to Greater Manchester area club Chadderton in the last 32 of the prestigious FA Vase on Saturday.

The Bulls have been on an upwards charge since their inception two and a half years and two promotions back.

But now the Northern Counties East Division One side are in the national spotlight, and with a Wembley final at the end of this road, manager Rudy Funk said it was only natural they should dream.

“Dreams can wait right now as it’s a long way from the last 32 to the final.

“But we are humans and everyone in that last 32 has the same aim. You can dream about Wembley, but to have that become reality you have to produce on the pitch.

“It is exciting times at the club and I wonder if in the history of the FA Vase there has been any other clubs reach the last 32 only two and a half years after forming. It is quite an achievement in my opinion.

“A lot of good work was done by Micky Taylor here at the start of the season and we are continuing that. Hopefully everything will be right for us and we can move into the next round.”

Chadderton are currently 13th in the North West Counties Football League Division One and lucky to still be in the competition.

In round one of this year’s Vase, they were knocked out 2-1 at Dronfield Town, only to be re-instated after it was found Dronfield had fielded an ineligible player.

The Bulls, with just one defeat in their last 10 games, will fancy their chances against a fellow Step 6 club and Funk said: “I have done my homework and Chadderton are a mix of young and old.

“At the end of the day they have been in the league a long time. They have played in the Vase and know what to expect and what is required which makes this a tough encounter.

“But we go there in very confident mood and hope everything goes right on the day.

“Our league form has been good and we have signed some exciting players. The Vase is a distraction, but a pleasant distraction. It’s just fantastic to be involved at this stage.”

Funk added: “It is unbelievable here at AFC Mansfield and it’s fantastic to be back in the area where I have had some amazing times.

“I have just brought Ryan Williams here. After having him at Scarborough I know his passion and love for Mansfield and as soon as I got the job he was the one person I wanted to bring here.

“He is a very exciting and experienced player, fantastic in the changing room, and a great coach. He ticks all the boxes.

“I have got three other ex-Stags players here too in Craig Mitchell, Ash Kitchen and Jason White which is nice to see.

“We are playing catch-up on points right now, but it would be nice if we could finish in the top four. If not, we start again next year.”