By Matt Badcock
Gari Rowntree says Workington will make the long FA Trophy trip to Weston-super-Mare full of confidence after already dumping out National League big guns Hartlepool United.
The EVO-STIK NPL promotion chasers stunned the Non-League newcomers 1-0 in the last round.
Up next is a trip to the western coast this Saturday as they look to keep on the road to Wembley against the National League South Seagulls.
And captain Rowntree says everyone at the Reds is looking forward to the challenge against another opposition from a higher level.
“We were on a good run before we played Hartlepool and then winning that gave everyone a big lift because it was a big upset,” Rowntree, 31, told The NLP.
“We played really well and dominated the game. Everyone was buzzing at the end, even the goal was a real piece of quality and that shows what we can do.
“We’ll be going down to Weston on Friday afternoon and getting all sorted for the day because it’s a massive game for us. Our main priority is the league obviously. We’ve been in the play-offs the last few years and had a bit of bad luck so we’re pushing for that again.
“But the Trophy is a big bonus. Games like Hartlepool gives the lads confidence for the rest of the season and it’s an exciting competition. We really enjoy playing in it and against bigger teams like Hartlepool.
“It’s obviously a bit different for us with working in the morning before we get on the bus to travel down but we’re all looking forward to it.”
Before their New Year’s Day defeat to Whitby Town, Workington were unbeaten in 17 games – with 13 of them wins.
Last year they made the Step 3 play-offs for a third consecutive season where they lost to Stourbridge in the semi-final.
Going up at the fourth attempt is no doubt the aim and Rowntree thinks the side, who sat second ahead of the weekend, have the quality in their ranks.
“The lads are doing very well,” Rowntree said. “We’ve just been on a brilliant run and went through Christmas with really good results. I think the amount of games caught up with us on New Year’s Day. We started well but heavy legs kicked in and they were on top. We’ve got to get back on a run again if we can.”
Rowntree broke his ankle in the play-off semi-final but came back in October to reach 350 appearances for the club.
He’s currently helping out Lee Andrews while joint-boss Dave Hewson gets back to full health and he says they’re motivated to put a smile on the absent manager’s face.
“He’s needed a bit of time out to get his health right and Lee’s taken charge with me helping out as much as I can,” Rowntree said.
“He’s been popping down and he was at the Hartlepool game. It’s nice to see him – it gives the lad a lift.”
*This article originally featured in The @NonLeaguePaper, which is available every Sunday and Monday