DAVENTRY TOWN: Preacher Simpson misses out on FA Cup test at Grays

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Birmingham-based preacher Marcel Simpson will miss Daventry Town’s FA Cup clash with Grays Athletic on Sunday because of previously arranged church commitments.

His place at Aveley will be taken by talented teenager Joe Henderson.

Ex-Coventry City academy player Henderson has come on in leaps and bounds this season, scoring his debut Southern League goal as the Town saw-off a lively Egham Town side by 2-0 at Communications Park on Tuesday night.

In the heart of the Daventry defence Henderson will partner club captain Liam Dolman who has been wrapped up in cotton wool for the past week after picking up a slight strain.

Dolman was an unused substitute against both Egham and Sutton Coldfield in the FA Trophy.

A knee injury will keep ex-Kettering Town full back Ashley Deeney out of action for a fortnight, but Town physio Jack Champelovier still had a few of the walking wounded queuing up outside the treatment room in the last few days.

On the credit side Chris Murphy has recovered from a bout of glandular fever but reliable goalkeeper Richard Morris, Henderson and Howell have all shrugged off minor knocks in the build-up to the third qualifying round tie against a Grays side that was thrashed 5-1 by AFC Hornchurhch.

Jack West’s late consolation goal did little to pacify Grays manager Ryan Kirby, who said: “We just crumbled and didn’t deal well enough with the pressure. When stepping up a level you must stick to your game plan. We didn’t and were well beaten!”

Kirby began his footballing life as an Arsenal trainee and also played for Doncaster Rovers, Preston North End, Crewe Alexandra, Wigan Athletic and Stevenage Borough as well as making one appearance for the Cobblers as a substitute in 1996.

As a step three Isthmian Premier Division team Grays will start as favourites this weekend even though their Daventry opponents have won all but one of their 13 league and cup games so far this season culminating in the midweek defeat of Egham.

Grays themselves won 18 consecutive Ryman Division One North fixtures between early February and late April last season, were promoted as champions and have carried on the good work in the new campaign. Before the Hornchurch debacle, Margate, Romford, Bury Town and local rivals Tilbury were all despatched.

Yet as recently as 2010 Grays came within a whisker of being banished to the Essex Senior League after the New Recreation Ground, their home for more than 100 years, was devoured by property developers. Since then the Gravelmen have become nomads.

Ground sharing moves have seen the club take up temporary residence at East Thurrock, Rush Green Stadium and their current home at Mill Field with an Aveley side which had first call on the pitch this Saturday.

Taken all things into consideration a draw on Sunday would be an excellent result for Town before entertaining Corby Town in the first qualifying round of the FA Trophy in nine days’ time. This tie will see the return of the Hendrie brothers not to mention Tom Berwick, Daventry’s most prolific goalscorer in modern times.