On paper, the only thing going for Westfields is home advantage. They play in the Midlands League premier division, three levels beneath Curzon in the non-league pyramid, and after a barnstorming start their form has started to suffer.
Westfields won their first 17 games of the season in all competitions, scoring 63 goals and conceding only 16. Saturday’s 4-0 home defeat by Coleshill means they have lost two of their last four.
Even so, Flanagan is adamant his team will not be underestimating the Hereford club. In fact, he believes that if the Nash are to win, they need to forget they are members of National League North and think of themselves as underdogs.
“In my experience a cup run can only buoy you for so long and then the effect starts to wear off. It’s hard to pick players up after a big cup win, especially if it’s for a league match,” said the Curzon boss.
“I watched Westfields at Alvechurch three days after they beat Ryman League leaders Leiston in the FA Cup and they lost 2-0 — their first defeat of the season. Alvechurch just outran them, hustled them and forced them into mistakes.
“A club that tops the Ryman League is going to be decent and I imagine Westfields never expected to go through. I bet they had quite a party that night and they took their foot off the gas a bit. They’ll also have found that when you’re top of the league, unbeaten, and getting a lot of national exposure, everybody wants to beat you.
“I didn’t see anything to frighten me but I could easily have been misled. I’ve only seen Westfields that once and on Saturday it will be an entirely different story.
“The BBC are going to be there with ‘Football Focus’ and ‘Match of the Day’ and it’s going to be easily the biggest day in Westfields’ history. Their allpay.park ground will be full and their focus will be total. They’ll have a proper go at us.
“They’ll know that if they don’t run like they’ve never run before the chances are that we’ll dominate. But if they do run, and they force us into errors, they’ll have a fighting chance. We’ve got to guard against that. We’ve got to do to them what they think they’re going to do to us. We’ve got to put them under pressure from the start.
“If we’re going to win we’ve got to go there thinking we’re the underdogs. When we played York City we really were the underdogs and it was very easy to motivate the squad.
“It’ll all be about what happens on the day. The FA Cup isn’t really about who’s got the most ability, it’s about who wants it most. If we put the effort in we should be in a good position to win. If not, and Westfields get chances, they could make us suffer.”
Westfields appear to be a team without stars. Their players are largely gathered from the Hereford area — many have played for Hereford United’s successor club Hereford FC — and the goals are spread around the squad.
Richard Greaves has 13, while Jamie Molyneaux, who joined Hereford a month ago, scored 12. Winger Sirdic Grant is understood to be fast and effective but has not played since the Leiston tie.
Westfields have made at least four signings in the past fortnight. They have replaced Molyneaux with 34-year-old Monmouth Town striker Nick Harrhy and brought in winger Chris Hams from Cwmbran Celtic. Michael Wright and defender Joma Moulton have come in on loan from Tamworth.
Curzon also go into the tie on the back of a defeat, having lost 2-1 to Gainsborough Trinity on Saturday after taking the lead within three minutes. The lacklustre performance exasperated Flanagan and his assistant, Ian Nevison — who delivered a titanic post-match dressing down — and at training last night (Tuesday) the squad and management went through a recording of the match frame by frame.
“We dissected the entire game and showed them everything that was wrong: shape, the distance between players, and not getting cover in. It’s something we used last season with great effect but not so far this year,” Flanagan explained.
“Westfields can be assured that we won’t under-estimate them. We’ll be putting in all the necessary effort because if we don’t we’ll have problems.
“I’m really looking forward to Saturday. It’s a peculiar game in a lot of respects because of the television aspect and the differences between the clubs. We’ll go into the tie in the right frame of mind because it’s such a wonderful opportunity for Curzon Ashton. There’s no way we’re going to waste it.”
Saturday’s BBC “Football Focus” will be broadcast from Westfields’ allpay.park ground and the Curzon party will get the chance to meet presenter Dan Walker and pundits Trevor Sinclair and Dean Saunders. There will be extended highlights of the game on “Match of the Day” and on BT Sport 1 at 9pm.
If a replay is needed, it will take place at the Tameside Stadium on Monday, November 14.