Football / Non-League Notebook: Watson to solve problem

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The Independent Online
THE Cheshire town of Warrington is more famous for rugby league and brewing beer than for football, but Warrington Town are doing their best to alter that state of affairs. The HFS Loans League club have battled through from the qualifying rounds to reach tomorrow's quarter-finals of the FA Trophy, and, having drawn the only other side from outside the GM Vauxhall Conference left in the tournament, they have high hopes of further progress.

If Warrington do reach the final on 9 May, it will be a unique return visit to Wembley for the club, for no other side has appeared in the finals of both the Trophy and the FA Vase. Their local rivals, St Helens Town, beat them 3-2 in the Vase final of 1987, while tomorrow Sutton United, famed cup fighters from the Diadora League, stand between them and a place in the last four of the Trophy.

A trip to Gander Green Lane will hold no terrors for Warrington, who drew at Merthyr Tydfil in the last round before beating the Conference club in front of a crowd of almost 2,000 at Cantilever Park. 'We've nothing to lose and we're confident of getting a result,' Warrington's manager, Derek Brownbill, a former Liverpool, Port Vale and Wigan forward, said last night.

Two of the key men in the win over Merthyr will be missing, though. Their centre-half, Chris Coulson, is suspended, while their former captain and midfield play- maker, Neil Whalley, is now playing Second Division football for Preston North End, following his pounds 25,000 transfer earlier this month. 'We couldn't afford to turn down that sort of money,' Brownbill said.

In 1959, when Warrington were known as Stockton Heath, they sold to Liverpool a 20-year-old forward who became a hero for club and country: Roger Hunt. A decade later, John Richards, a local lad, went to Wolves, where he became a prolific scorer. Their current goal grabber is Liam Watson, with 36 so far this season. 'A lot of League clubs are watching him,' Brownbill said. Another goal or two tomorrow might mean the town's rugby league club stepping in to the shadows for a while . . .

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