LEE Burns says anything can happen in a one-off game as East Thurrock United look to reach the third round of the FA Trophy for the first time.

Rocks welcome National League Chester to the FutureFuel Stadium tomorrow.

And they will head into the match full of confidence following a thumping 4-0 win against Aldershot Town in the last round.

The Shots are currently second in the top flight of non-league football, with Chester occupying the final relegation place.

But Burns is refusing to read too much into that and is looking forward to testing himself against the Blues, who he played against while at Dartford.

“It will be a difficult game,” said the 35-year-old defender. “Chester have very few weak links and they will be more advanced physically and they should be better technically as well.

“But you never know. It’s a one-off game as we proved in the last round against Aldershot.

“We have been struggling in recent weeks for consistency but if you look through the leagues that is the case with a lot of clubs.

“We seem to do better against the better sides, the Braintree and Hampton & Richmond Borough games aside. We have done well against a lot of sides at the top and long may that continue.”

Despite his age, Burns has only missed five of Rocks’ 34 games so far this term while a number of his team-mates have struggled with injury.

And he believes it is down to the added fitness work he did in the summer months, but says a number of team-mates have been playing through the pain barrier this season.

“I feel good and I think that is because I did a lot in the summer with the physio,” he said. “It’s the best I have felt in a few years and fingers crossed it stays that way.

“A number of guys - like James (White) and Lewis (Smith) - have had to be bandaged up and play at 70 per cent as we can’t compete with other teams’ big squads. We just have to get on with it.

“That was the case in the midweek cup win against Concord but you can be sure we will always give our all.”


THE PREVIEW: East Thurrock United are bidding to make history when they face Chester in the FA Trophy tomorrow.

Rocks have never reached the third round before, and they arguably face an easier task than they did in the last round.

Aldershot, beaten by East Thurrock in the first round, are currently second in the National League with tomorrow’s opponents languishing in the relegation places.

Chester will be prioritising league survival this year, although the Blues will be determined to reach the third round for the second time in three years.

MEN TO WATCH: Harry White, a summer signing from Solihull Moors, has scored two goals in the last week although Ross Hannah is Chester’s top scorer with nine goals this term.

WHEN & WHERE: Tomorrow at 3pm at the FutureFuel Stadium, Rookery Hill, Corringham, SS17 9LB.

WHAT THE BOSS SAID: “We have beaten Aldershot, who you would say are a better side, but football doesn’t work like that,” said John Coventry. “They have got some good results recently so they have momentum and they will want to keep it going. We have to remember they are a big club in the league above us.

“We got an excellent result in the week against Concord Rangers. It was a game we massively wanted to win and we felt it may be beyond us as we were missing seven players. But I was very pleased.”

TEAM NEWS: Simon Peddie and Ben Sampayo are unavailable. Reece Harris returns, while top scorer Sam Higgins and midfielder James White could also feature.