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Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Trophy finalists out to confound critics
Steve Tilson
Steve Tilson: Important to Canvey's hopes
BBC Sport Online's Gabrielle Lewis previews the FA Umbro Trophy final between Forest Green Rovers and Canvey Island.

Next Sunday's FA Umbro Trophy final has already been described as the decider that nobody wanted.

Admittedly, Ryman Premier League runners-up Canvey and Nationwide Conference survivors Forest Green are not the most fashionable of non-league outfits.

But the behind-the-scenes ingredients should make for a mouth-watering clash at Villa Park.

And with both sides bidding for the highest honour in non-league football, neither will care about the apparent lack of appeal.

Since Jeff King took charge of Canvey 10 years ago, they have enjoyed success after success.

This season has been one of the most auspicious in their history.

Double ambitions

Earlier in the season they beat Second Division Port Vale in the first round of the FA Cup before going down to a narrow defeat by neighbours Southend United in the second round.

Then they swept aside three sides from the Conference - Stevenage, Telford and Hereford United - on the way to their first ever FA Trophy final.

Their promotion hopes were killed off when they had to play 10 matches in 12 games because of their various cup exploits.

But they are hoping to become the competition's first Isthmian League winners in 20 years.

Forest Green, meanwhile, are looking to make some history of their own.

Having won the FA Vase in 1982, the Gloucestershire club are determined to become the first to scoop the FA Trophy as well.

They have already knocked out Division Three-bound Rushden and Diamonds and cruised past Trophy favourites Hereford United in the semis.

Villa connections

And, for Rovers joint bosses, Nigel Spink and David Norton, the ideal end their first six months as managers would be to collect this honour at the stadium where they both enjoyed the best years of their respective playing careers.

Nigel Spink
Spink: Set for poignant return to Villa Park
Spink will always be remembered as the young goalkeeper who came off the bench to become a hero for Villa as they beat Bayern Munich to win the 1982 European Cup final in Rotterdam, while Norton spent six seasons at Villa Park.

The Villa links do not ed there. Former England winger Tony Daley is hoping to pass a fitness test in time to return to his old club for the first time since 1994.

"I'm a huge Villa fan and it will be the first time I've played there since I left the place," Daley said.

"It will certainly be very nostalgic, but it will be nice to go back and play there in the twilight years of my career."

Villa trainees Matthew Ghent and Luke Prince are also vying for places in the squad, although others with Villa connections - such as Ian Olney and Darren Middleton - are cup-tied.

King confident

Rovers' battle to avoid relegation saw them recruit a number of valuable players who will be ineligible for the final, including Alex Sykes, who is one of five players remaining from the 1999 Trophy final.

Jeff King
Jeff King: Not intimidated by Forest Green
Forest Green's squad is likely to include high profile players such as former West Ham winger Stuart Slater, but Canvey Island have big names of their own such as former Southend stalwart Steve Tilson and Wimbledon old-boy Micky Bennett.

Consequently, there is no talk of one side or the other going to Villa Park as the underdogs, and King sees the 2000-01 FA Trophy as there for the taking.

"Forest Green have got a lot of big names, but it doesn't bother me at all," he said.

"I'm not being rude or critical, but if you look at where they are in the league and what we've achieved, there shouldn't be much in it.

"I'm not saying we're going to win, but it will be close and may the best team win."

Passage to the final

First Round
Both teams had byes.

Second Round
Harlow Town 2-2 Canvey Island; replay - Canvey Island 2-0 Harlow. Forest Green - bye.

Third Round
Canvey Island 5-1 Northwood.
Forest Green 6-1 Barton Rovers.

Fourth Round
Bilston Town 0-1 Canvey Island.
Matlock Town 2-2 Forest Green; replay - Forest Green 3-1 Matlock Town.

Fifth Round
Canvey Island 1-1 Stevenage Borough; replay - Canvey Island 0-0 Stevenage aet (4-2 on pens).
Forest Green 2-0 Rushden and Diamonds.

Canvey Island 1-0 Telford United.
Forest Green 2-1 Worksop Town.

Canvey Island 4-0 Chester City (agg). Forest Green 6-3 Hereford United (agg).

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See also:

11 May 01 |  Football
Spink on brink of cup glory
07 Apr 01 |  Football
Forest Green and Canvey in final
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