Essex minnows confident of FA Cup success at Hartlepool United

Hartlepool United boss Paul Murray faces up to non-league  East Thurrock United on Saturday.
Hartlepool United boss Paul Murray faces up to non-league East Thurrock United on Saturday.
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IN-FORM Sam Higgins says East Thurrock United are “quietly confident” of causing an FA Cup shock against Hartlepool United on Saturday.

The burly striker has been scoring hat-tricks for fun for the Ryman Premier League side this season – bagging 12 goals since the end of August.

Paul Murray’s Pools side are bottom of the Football League but will still go into the first round FA Cup match on Saturday as hot favourites.

Higgins, who scored his latest hat-trick on Tuesday night, believes the Rocks have what it take to cause an upset at Victoria Park.

But he admits that they will need to be “the best they have ever been” to beat Pools.

John Coventry’s side smashed Bath City in the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup, winning 7-1 at Rookery Hill, dangerman Higgins bagging a hat-trick with Lewis Smith scoring twice.

Higgins said: “We did very well to win 7-1, but this is another tough test.

“Hartlepool are a full-time side and have experienced players and we will have to be at our absolute best to win, although we are quietly confident of causing an upset.”

Hotshot Higgins was at it again on Tuesday, scoring all four goals in a 4-2 win over Hungerford Town in the FA Trophy first qualifying round.

At one stage, it looked like Higgins would be suspended for the trip to Hartlepool on Saturday after he picked up a booking in the fourth qualifying round rout.

The Essex club initially had that down as his fifth yellow card of the season, meaning he would be banned for the Hartlepool match.

But it was confirmed the following day that it was an administrative error and that Higgins had only been booked four times this season – to the relief of his manager.

Higgins added: “It is great for me personally to be able to play in the first round and I would have been devastated to miss out, but we have faith in our ability as a team.”

Coventry admits it is a big boost to have Higgins available at Victoria Park.

The East Thurrock boss said: “We thought at the time he would miss the game and so did he, so to have him back is a welcome surprise.

“He is delighted and so are we because he is a big part of what we do.”