Having never met before, Luton Town are going to become extremely well acquainted with Dorchester Town over the next few weeks, writes Mike Simmonds.
The two sides clash in the FA Trophy on Saturday at the Avenue Stadium, before travelling to Kenilworth Road for an FA Cup second round tie the following weekend.
With replays a possibility too, Luton could end up playing their Blue Square Bet South opponents four times in the space of just two weeks.
The Magpies have certainly been hitting the heights this season, particularly in cup competitions.
They made the national headlines after knocking out League Two side Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup to set up the tie with Luton.
Live on ITV, Jake Gosling netted the winner for the hosts, after Plymouth were controversially reduced to 10 men due to a harsh red card earlier in the game.
In the Trophy, Dorchester have knocked out Didcot Town to reach this stage of the competition and will be keen to get their hands on the £5,000 prize money awaiting the winners.
Just this week, the Magpies moved to strengthen the squad for tie, signing forward Dan Thompson and midfielder George Colson from League One Portsmouth on loan.
Thompson, 18, has played twice for Pompey this season, with one start, while Colson, 19, has made one Capital Cup appearance.
Another new face to arrive is the experienced Richard Logan, a former team-mate of Town boss Paul Buckle when the pair were at Exeter City. The 30-year-old was recently released by Wycombe Wanderers and agreed non-contract terms and is eligible to play in the Trophy.
Speaking about his new striker, boss Phil Simkin said: “We are delighted to sign someone of Richard’s calibre and experience, and it’s a big bonus that he has already played many times alongside Ben Watson and also knows Ashley Nicholls very well.
“Richard will definitely play tomorrow and I am just delighted to have been able to bring in a player with so much experience.
“He will play alongside Ben Watson who has been fantastic for us.
“Ben has really worked his socks off, particularly over the last few weeks, and I think it is about time we released some of the weight off his shoulders.”
“We have brought him in initially on a short-term deal and we will just see where it leads.
“He seems like a nice bloke and he slotted into training very well so we are all very happy.”
Simkin also had this to say about the two Pompey loanees, adding: “Dan Thompson is a centre forward and someone I have been looking at for a while. He is a big lad and he has a real physical presence while George Colson is a good runner from midfield.
“We are very grateful to Portsmouth for all their help, and all three signings will go straight into the squad for this Saturday’s home game with Luton.”
The League season started with a bang for Dorchester, with seven wins in their opening 10 games, with boss Simkin picking up manager of the month for September.
The club then hit a slight dip, losing all three of their league games in October, and despite wins in the FA Cup over Basingstoke, Bury Town and Plymouth in that time, they lost again to Havant & Waterlooville, making it four defeats in a row.
The pressure has started to show on Simkin as he refused to speak to his local paper after the 4-0 reverse to Havant, but they are back on the winning trail just in time for Luton’s visit, recording a 2-1 win at Maidenhead United last weekend to sit in 10th place.
Their home form is mightily impressive though, winning 10 out 11 league and cup matches, their only defeat to Tonbridge Angels, while they average crowds of 499, although attracted a massive 3,196 for the Pilgrims tie.
The Dorchester squad does have one player with Premier League experience too as midfielder Nick Crittenden started life at Chelsea, and made two substitute appearances at the highest level. His first was replacing Gianfranco Zola no less, back in 1997 after the Italian had bagged a hat-trick in the 4-0 win over Derby County.
Team news: Hatters are likely to be without Jon Shaw yet again, while manager Paul Buckle has hinted he will have to make a few changes due to un-named injuries.
Both Dean Beckwith and James Dance available after Town rejected offers to take the pair on loan.
On-loan trio Simon Ainge, Arnaud Mendy and Jonathan Smith are all available to feature, while Stuart Fleetwood is over his recent injury too, leaving just Danny Spiller and Garry Richards in the care of the physio.
For the Magpies, Ashley Nicholls is suspended and boss Simkin faces a selection headache at the back following Arran Pugh’s impressive performance at Maidenhead United.
Man in the middle: Brett Huxtable - Already refereed nine Conference games this season, showing 21 yellow cards and two reds thus far.
It’s the second Luton game he will officiate, having taken the 3-1 home win over Southport back in September.
Huxtable once sent off Town defender Alan White in a pre-season friendly at Bideford in the 2009 South West Challenge Cup for an off-the-ball incident with home striker Jamie Densham.
In charge: Paul Simkin. Former Bridport, Weymouth and Dorchester player, who was caretaker boss at the Magpies for a spell in 2011 after Ashley Vickers left, before being appointed in April this year when ex-Portsmouth goalkeeper Alan Knight departed.
View from the opposition: Manager Phil Simkin: “We are looking forward to it but in terms of preparation it is not easy.
“The second game is more important to both clubs financially as it is a chance to draw a big club in the third round, but they are both important and we want to win them both.
“The other thing is they have probably got enough players to fill two different sides so we will not know their line-up until an hour before kick-off.
“We have also got to think about things like set pieces, which will have to be different in both games, so it is difficult, but at the same time it is great for the club.”
“(The FA Cup tie) is the one carrot I have got tomorrow. I can just say ‘if you want to play at Kenilworth Road, make sure you perform today.’
“To be honest though, we want to win every game and the lads do not need much motivating.”
One to watch: Richard Logan - striker who has played the majority of his 14-year career in the Football League.
Began life at Ipswich before loans at Cambridge, Torquay and Boston United.
Signed for Peterborough where he spent three years, before more loans to Shrewsbury and Lincoln. Made his name proplery at Exeter with almost 50 League goals in 200 appearances, and was most recently at Wycombe Wanderers, making 10 appearances this season before being released.
Did you know: Paul Buckle scored the winner for Weymouth in their 1-0 win at Dorchester Town in their second qualifying FA Cup round tie in October 2004. Buckle was skipper of the Terras side that day, that also included striker Paul Claridge.
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