Shortwood: FA Cup progress delights joint boss Alex Sykes

FA Cup

Shortwood United joint manager Alex Sykes has praised his side's "astronomical" achievement after they reached the FA Cup first round.

The Southern League Division One South & West club beat Conference Premier outfit Aldershot 2-1 in their fourth qualifying round replay on Tuesday.

They will now host League One Port Vale, who sit 125 places above them in the league system.

"I can't use enough adjectives to explain what it means," said Sykes.

"To go and do what they've done in Aldershot's backyard is astronomical."

Shortwood, who play in the eighth tier, earned the replay after coming from a goal behind to draw 1-1 with the full-time Shots on Saturday.

They found themselves trailing 1-0 at half time on Tuesday after Matt Paterson's 15th-minute opener, but a Duncan Culley penalty and a long-range strike from Adam Mann three minutes later secured the victory.

"I said to them: 'Who wants to be a hero? Who wants to be in the headlines tomorrow?'

"Somehow it happens every year in the competition and it's great for the lads to take on board.

"We told them not to let it pass them by. It's an excellent achievement and for some of those lads it's the biggest game they've ever played in."

Shortwood are based on the outskirts of Nailsworth, a Gloucestershire town with a population of around 6,000 people, and are neighbours with Conference Premier club Forest Green Rovers.

And Sykes says the achievements of the part-time club will be dedicated to the volunteers who work behind the scenes.

"It's the same 15 or 20 people behind the scenes who put the time and effort in. This is for them," he added.

"As much as the lads are really going to enjoy the 90 minutes [against Port Vale], it's for those people in the background who do all this for no money.

"When you look at all the things the FA are preaching, that is grassroots. It's the people's local club and they're enjoying that."

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