Hampton & Richmond Borough hotshot Charlie Moone reckons an FA Trophy first round clash with Blue Square South Chelmsford City will be a good benchmark of his club’s ambitions.
Moone’s double and one from Tom Hickey gave the Beavers a 3-2 replay win over Leiston at the Beveree on Tuesday night after Saturday’s third qualifying round stalemate.
Boss Mark Harper’s men are top of the Ryman Premier League table in spite of their recent inconsistent form that has seen them lose to Concord Rangers and Wealdstone.
Beavers chairman Steve McPherson and Harper have put a swift return to the Blue Square South at the top of their list of priorities following last season’s relegation.
And Moone admitted beating the Clarets would be a strong indication of where the club’s future might lie next year.
“Obviously, they will have the advantage because of their league status, but we have plenty of experience and we are at home,” he said.
“This is a new team and a different one to the team that got relegated last season, but all have played in the Blue Square South and even higher.”
“We already know what it takes to get results in that league and will need to draw on that experience to prove we deserve to get there.
“We are top of the table at the moment and we have suffered a bit because teams have raised their game against us.
“The manager has said the league is our priority.
“But with the FA Trophy there is a realistic chance of reaching Wembley.
“There is no bigger place to play than Wembley and that is something we’d all love to achieve.”
But far from thinking of Wembley, Harper was just relieved to get through.
“It was a very nervy second half after a fantastic performance in the first, but the important thing is that we won,” he said.
“The opportunity to play a Conference South side, with home advantage, will be a measure of how far we have come.”
Moone, who scored the opener in Saturday’s 1-1 draw that secured Tuesday’s replay, now has 13 goals to his credit this term and he is hoping to get off that mark when Cray Wanderers visit this weekend.
“I got 11 last season and my first target was to get past that,” he added.
“I’ve been setting myself small targets and the next one is to get off 13 as quick as I can.”
While Joel Ledgister and Tresor Kandol have beefed up Hampton’s striking options in recent weeks, Moone has admitted the competition does not bother him.
“Our position in the league and our ambitions mean players liek Tresor want to come and play for us,” he said.
“We are a tight knit squad but it is good to draw on that sort of experience.
“We are scoring goals at the moment, but the guys up top appreaciate the tightness of our defence at the moment.”