Football: Emley come back to earth with a banger

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The Independent Online
It was almost inevitable. Three days after victory at the McAlpine Stadium sparked the biggest victory party in the club's history, Emley returned to the reality of the Unibond League on Saturday and found it a chastening experience.

Last Wednesday, the village team earned the right to play Premiership West Ham in the third round of the FA Cup in the new year, winning a penalty shoot-out against Lincoln City in front of 4,891 fans at Huddersfield's state of the art stadium.

On Saturday, while West Ham were appearing before a 21,000 crowd 10 miles away at Blackburn, Emley's heroes were watched by just 267 spectators at the ground Leigh RMI share with the local rugby league club - and lost 2-1.

In fact, Emley nearly didn't make it to the game at all, as the team bus's gearbox gave up on the way, and the players only just made it in time for kick-off. "It's back down to earth with a bump," Ronnie Glavin, the Emley manager, groaned, having seen his side's four-match winning streak in the league brought to an end.

"One effect of our Cup run is that we are now the team everyone else in the Unibond League wants to beat, and we'll have to learn to deal with that."

Worryingly for Glavin, he is still unable to recall his experienced club captain, Ian Banks, who is out with a calf injury, and is now without striker Deiniol Graham, whose goal sparked a fightback from two down against Lincoln but who then limped off with a hamstring injury.

None of Glavin's concerns, however, is likely to wipe the smiles from the faces of Emley's directors, anticipating a pounds 100,000 payday for the club on 3 January, regardless of the result.

West Ham forecast a 20,000 crowd and Emley, due to receive some 3,700 tickets, do not expect to have many of those left on their hands.