Wrexham's Knight-Percival targets cup run

Reporter:

Rich Williams

WREXHAM'S Nat Knight-Percival counts an FA Cup shock among one of his greatest achievements – but the winger knows there is work to be done before Wrexham can think of landing a plum tie in the competition.

Wrexham entertain Southport tomorrow at The Racecourse at the fourth qualifying round stage, and the prize for the winners will be a guaranteed £12,500 payout as well as a place in Sunday’s first round proper draw.

Knight-Percival was in the Histon side that beat Leeds United 1-0 two years ago in a tie screened live on television and although he would love another crack at causing an upset, the 23-year-old is looking no further than tomorrow’s tie.

“Everyone looks forward to cup games, getting through and hopefully getting a big team,” he said. “We will just have to wait and see how we get on in this tie first.

“This is a massive game for us, all cup games are. Anyone can beat anyone in the cup, it could be very open but it is a game we are looking to win.

“Every game we play we play to win, whether it is to progress to the next round of the cup or to pick up three points.”

Knight-Percival, who spent five seasons at Histon before joining Wrexham last summer, experienced the magic of the cup with the Stutes.

Histon had already beaten Swindon Town before they overcame another League One outfit in November 2008.

Although Championship side Swansea City knocked Histon out of the competition in round three, Knight-Percival will never forget the Leeds upset: “It was a brilliant day, one of my best days in football,” he said. “Beating Leeds was probably the highlight of my career, and we got to the play-offs as well so it was a good season.

“Playing in the FA Cup against a big team like Leeds was brilliant, everyone played for the team and we got a great result.

“It was great for the club because it brought in so much revenue – to get the win was even better.

“We were hoping for a Premier League team in the next round but we got Swansea. It was still a good draw because they are a Championship team but we lost.”

With three goals to his name this term, Knight-Percival returned as a second half substitute in Saturday’s 3-0 victory at Hayes and Yeading having missed the defeat against AFC Wimbledon with an ankle injury.

And he is now hoping to win his place back in the team: “My ankle is fine, I had my first session last Friday and I came off the bench at Hayes,” he added. “It is just a case of getting a bit of my fitness back and I am raring to go.

“Who knows what ideas the gaffer has, whether he will play me or not. He will look to play his strongest team, one he thinks that can win.”

Manager Dean Saunders says he will name as strong a side as possible, although left-back Neil Ashton (shin), and midfielders Dean Keates (thigh) and Jamie Tolley (knee) won’t be risked if not fully fit.

“I will treat it the same as last week’s game, we have got to keep going,” said Saunders. “We haven’t got enough players to rest people.

“The players are itching to play although we have a few who are carrying knocks so we will assess that, but I want to win. We are going well and we have got to keep the foot on the pedal.”

Wrexham climbed up to eighth position in the Conference table, three points away from the play-off places, after beating Hayes.

And while promotion remains the priority, Saunders, who won the FA Cup as a player with Liverpool in 1992, is still looking for a decent run in the competition:  "Obviously we are trying to get out of this league which is the most important thing,” he said. “But we reached the second round last year and made more than £60,000 for the club.

“We want to go as far as we can so hopefully we can give the fans something to cheer about a get a bit of an FA Cup run.”

And although Southport are hovering just above the relegation zone following a poor run of results  Saunders knows form counts for nothing in the cup: “It is another tough game,” he added. “Southport are a strong team, we played well against them in the league but the FA Cup is a different story.”

The winners of tomorrow’s tie will find out their next opponents when the first round proper draw is televised live on ITV1 between 12.30 and 1pm on Sunday.
Wrexham or Southport will be number 60 in the draw while should a replay be required, it will be held at Haig Avenue on Tuesday.

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