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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 November 2006, 11:59 GMT
Widdrington eyes Forest upset
By Pete Oliver

Salisbury player-coach Tommy Widdrington
Widdrington's side are yet to concede in this season's FA Cup
Salisbury City player-coach Tommy Widdrington is a fully paid-up member of the 92 club but is still looking to break new ground in the FA Cup.

Salisbury have never before reached the third round of the Cup but have a chance on Sunday if they can pull of a major shock and knock out twice winners Nottingham Forest.

Widdrington will be playing his part from the dug-out as a dislocated knee has scuppered his chances of facing the League One leaders in the game being shown live on BBC ONE.

But the 35-year-old midfielder will still be mentally kicking every ball alongside manager Nick Holmes on what promises to a memorable day for the Conference South club.

Widdrington told BBC Sport: "People don't realise how much work goes on behind the scenes for a club of this stature to stage the game in the first place. It has been phenomenal.

"We felt it was very important to keep the game at our place. That's an achievement in itself, and it gives us a sporting chance.

"Everybody realises there is always an upset and that usually happens when a big club travels to a smaller club.

"We are well aware of the gulf in status of the two clubs but it is just 11 against 11 as Sutton United proved when they turned over Coventry. It happens."

Salisbury have won through four rounds to reach this stage of the competition and are yet to concede a goal.

Their only previous second-round tie ended in defeat against Newport County in 1959 but Widdrington is not resigned to reaching the end of the road yet.

He said: "No other competition matches teams from such leagues apart and gives us a chance to progress.

"I'll be telling our players to have a look at them and see that they have two eyes and if they could see in their shorts they would see the same there as well. There's no difference between us."

Physically that may be true, but Salisbury could not have been handed a tougher draw with Forest enjoying a revival that has made them short odds on a return to the Championship.

The football club has done a marvellous job to get the game on and now I hope we do ourselves justice

Tommy Widdrington

"On a personal level I was looking for Port Vale, Hartlepool or Macclesfield, clubs I had played at," Widdrington added.

"But when it came out I quickly realised this was the plum draw, getting Forest.

"Everybody is aware of their history and it wasn't that long ago they were European Cup winners.

"Colin Calderwood has done a superb job in getting them where they are now and his CV is not bad after doing a similar thing at Northampton."

However, like Forest, Salisbury are a club on the up with their own share of Cup history in the presence of Holmes, a 1976 winner with underdogs Southampton.

Holmes has dedicated his side's record-equalling run to his late Saints team-mate Peter Osgood, who shared in that Wembley triumph over Manchester United.

The Southampton link is maintained by Widdrington, who was a Cup quarter-finalist with the Saints before he moved on to Grimsby, Vale, Hartlepool and Macclesfield.

It was in his second spell at Vale that he played on his 92nd League ground with a trip to Stockport in February 2005 - just before heading back to the south to join Salisbury.

Unlike his team-mates, Widdrington's role with the Whites is full-time. And after pulling out of the running for the managerial vacancy at Macclesfield, he signed a contract running to 2011 at City, who are challenging for a second successive promotion.

"There is a huge catchment area here," he said.

"With the relative success we've had in the short-term, local businesses have got on board and the plan for the club is to go onwards and upwards.

"I don't want this to be the pinnacle. I want the club to experience this on a regular basis, rather than a one-off."

For now though, all sights are set on Sunday and a 2,700 capacity crowd at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium when Salisbury look to eclipse even last season's achievements when they won the Southern League and reached the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy.

Like Widdrington, ex-Plymouth and Sheffield Wednesday defender Jon Beswetherick misses the game through injury but former League experience comes from defender John Bass and goalkeeper Ryan Clarke.

Manager's son Matt Holmes scored in the previous round and others looking to catch the eye include Matt Tubbs, Tim Bond, Wayne Turk, Luke Prince and experienced striker Paul Sales.

"Having such a good season last season we have carried that on. This is a different proposition but it's a one-off situation and I'm confident the players can handle it," Widdrington added.

"For at least three or four of them it's a massive shop window. I am hoping that they shine, although we're not under pressure to sell anyone.

"We have got numerous lads who could handle themselves at a higher level and I hope we do ourselves justice."

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