Powling's marathon men take on McIlroy in Trophy

Sudbury Town's proud recent history includes a trip to Wembley for an FA Vase final, and if they repeat that feat in the FA Umbro Trophy this year they will have done it the hard way.

The Suffolk club have already played 10 games (and endured four periods of extra time) just to progress from October's first qualifying round to this weekend's third round proper. They needed two replays to see off Salisbury in the second qualifying round while their first-round saga involving another Wiltshire side, Trowbridge, lasted four matches.

Tomorrow, in the Trophy's last-16 stage, they travel to Cheshire for a tie at the GM Vauxhall Conference champions, Macclesfield Town. Both sides are managed by former First Division footballers. Sammy McIlroy, once of Manchester United and Northern Ireland, is in charge of Macclesfield, while his counterpart at Sudbury is Richie Powling, a tough-tackling full- back with Arsenal in the 1970s. "It's a gigantic task, going there," Powling said yesterday, "but anything is possible..."

Sudbury's climb up the non-League pyramid has been swift. A year after facing Tamworth (who won after a replay) in the 1989 Vase final in front of a record Vase Wembley crowd of 26,487, Sudbury were promoted from the Jewson Eastern Counties League to the Beazer Homes League. They were promoted again to the Premier Division two years ago, and Powling has assembled an experienced side with a good mixture of League and non-League stalwarts.

Another former Arsenal player, Brian McDermott, is the new player-manager of the struggling Conference club, Slough Town, following the departure of Dave Russell.

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