Next weekend’s trip to FC Halifax in the Buildbase FA Trophy holds no fears for Halesowen Town’s goal-scoring defender Paul McCone.
McCone knows a thing or two about giantkilling. In 2011, he netted the opener for Southern Premier Stourbridge in a 2-0 FA Cup 1st Round replay win over Plymouth Argyle, pictured.
Now, eight-or-so years later, the centre-back is at it again after helping Step 4 Halesowen record a famous FA Trophy victory at Maidenhead United – a side playing three divisions above.
McCone, 28, scored the equaliser which helped turn a 1-0 deficit into a fine 3-1 win at York Road, handing the Southern League’s Yeltz a trip to the Shaymen in the last 16.
It was their fifth replay victory of the season, meaning Paul Smith’s men are likely to play around 60 matches this term.
But amid calls for FA Trophy replays to be scrapped citing heavy workloads and extra midweek travelling, builder McCone says he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“For me, they can give you a bit more of a balanced game,” he told The NLP this week. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them. It gives you another crack of the whip.
“If we had played our first game at Maidenhead’s place and that was it, they could have had more of an advantage.
“You tend to find in Non-League that full-time teams have that little bit extra towards the end of the game, so there would be an advantage for them in extra-time.
“Travelling is all part and parcel of playing Non-League. I got home at about 12.45am after Tuesday’s game and was up at 6.30am again the next morning.
“I’ve been in it long enough now to cope with Tuesday nights. I’m lucky in a way, working for my Dad, where I’m given a bit more of a license to work when you need to. Some others aren’t as fortunate.”
The Yeltz are through to their first FA Trophy last-16 tie in 25 years, having now beaten four opponents from higher leagues.
“The steps are massive between divisions, but in fairness to Maidenhead, it’s often harder being the team that should beat lower league ones,” McCone added. “The pressure is on them.
“In the first half they just bombarded us a bit but our goalkeeper kept us in the game.
“At the break, the manager [Smith] said the way of turning this around is leaving it all out there on the pitch. My goal spurred us on and kicked us into gear. We deserved to win.”
The Yeltz are still in the BetVictor Southern Division One Central promotion mix where they boast the meanest defence and have games in hand on rivals.
“We might have to utilise the squad for the rest of the season,” added McCone. “The manager has built a great squad. The competition brings out the best in us.
“Confidence in the group is sky high. The manager always goes on about the togetherness and that spreads throughout the club, not just to the players.
“The noise from that Shed End is unbelievable. The place is rocking down there.
“Everyone seems to be talking about Halesowen now. They should because of the league form but it’s probably more to do with the cup run.”
Make sure you get your copy of The Non-League Paper on Sunday for the latest news from across Non-League over the last seven days, together with exclusive match reports and pictures from all of Saturday’s upcoming action in the BetVictor Southern League.