By Jon Couch
Sammy Moore doesn’t buy the notion that a lengthy FA Cup run can derail your club’s season – it’s given Leatherhead a new lease of life.
The Tanners toppled higher-ranked Bostik Premier rivals Margate and Billericay Town on route to a second round clash at Wycombe Wanderers where a 3-1 defeat brought their campaign to a brave end.
Since then, however, Moore’s men haven’t looked back with a run of seven straight league wins taking them to the fringe of the play-off places.
As a result, promotion is now back on the cards at Fetcham Grove – not that rookie boss Moore is taking anything for granted.
“It’s given us a chance but we won’t rest on our laurels,” said Moore, the former AFC Wimbledon, Dover and Leyton Orient midfielder, who replaced Jimmy Bullard as Tanners boss in the summer.
“When you go on an FA Cup run, like we did, it can affect you in two ways. It can either take your distraction away from the league or it can kickstart your season, and thankfully that’s what’s happened to us.
“Getting past Margate and Billericay in the earlier rounds gave us a huge lift and convinced the players that we can beat anyone in this league.
“At the time, our league position was false as we had a number of games in hand, but it was important we took that confidence into our league campaign. We responded well but it’s up to us now to keep that going, taking it a game at a time.”
It’s fair to say Moore took time to settle into his first managerial role with the loss of key striker Chike Kandi to Dagenham & Redbridge forcing him to implement Plan B and prompting a slow start to the league campaign.
Step up then Jack Midson, Moore’s former AFC Wimbledon team-mate and player/assistant manager who, at 34, has led from the front and topped the scoring charts, keeping the Tanners in touch with the promotion chasers.
“Losing Chike was a blow, of course, but it was the right thing to do for him and for the football club,” Moore continued. “Thankfully, Jack and the rest of the lads have stepped up and everyone at the club is buzzing. It’s a great place to be right now.
“We’ve got a really good, settled squad here. Darren Beale has come in as first-team coach and has been like a new signing for us, while the likes of Tom Derry and Chris Arthur have given us extra experience and quality we need at this level.
“We set ourselves a goal at the start of the season to have a good run in the FA Cup and challenge for the play-offs. We’re still on course for that but have only achieved half of that so far.
“As we know, football can change so quickly so it’s about getting our mentality right from now until the end of the season.”
*This article originally featured in The @NonLeaguePaper, which is available every Sunday and Monday