MANAGER John Hulse has warned his players against over-confidence as Rhyl host Gap Queens Park in the Welsh Cup today.
Winners in 2004 and 2006, the Lilywhites are clear favourites to advance to the semi-finals at the expense of their Cymru Alliance opponents.
But Hulse said: “I’ve watched them myself and had the people who scout for me watch them three times, and all the reports show they are a disciplined, well-organised side with a lot of talent.”
Among Queen’s Park top performers are former Rhyl player Ricky Evans, along with Colin Quirk and Kevin Leech, and Hulse knows only too well the dangers of discounting lower-division opposition.
“We only have to think back to our own experience last season when we lost at Ton Pentre to remind us of that,” he said.
“This is a massive competition with automatic entry into Europe for the winners, so there isn’t the slightest risk of us underestimating Queen’s Park for a moment.
“We have trained really hard twice this week and will be paying our opponents as much respect as we would Llanelli or TNS.
“I think there could be shocks ahead and we need to make sure we aren’t among them.”
A boost for Rhyl is the return of Matty Holt after injury and of Chris Roberts, who was not available for last week’s 1-0 defeat at Welshpool.
Ambitious Queens Park are savouring the challenge of their first ever appearance in quarter-finals, writes John Bridgwater.
The Cymru Alliance side make the trip in good heart having enjoyed success in three cup competitions this season, but are realistic enough to accept they are firm underdogs.
“Everyone involved at the football club is looking forward to a great day out at Rhyl, and absolutely no one expects us to get anything from the game and that suits us," said general manager Stewart Williams.
"To get to the quarter-final of the Welsh Cup and the semi-finals of the League Cup and NEWFA Cup is a very good achievement after we nearly folded at the end of last season.
"We feel that this game will be a huge influence on how we develop for next season – it will certainly be a yard stick in terms of where we are compared to Rhyl."
Manager Levi Lloyd hopes midfielder Ricky Evans will be fit to face his former club following a back injury.
Adam McGee will play in goal as John Rowley is cup-tied, as are Danny Brown and Ashley Wilson. Wyn Jones, Dave Griffiths and the influential Steve Cowap are all injured.
Welshpool Town will be wary of a potential upset when they make another tricky trip to lower-league opposition at Newport YMCA.
The Welsh Premier outfit have already had to negotiate tough treks to lesser-ranked Tywyn Bryncrug and more recently Bryntirion Athletic to secure their place in the last eight, while today’s Welsh League hosts certain to be looking to claim another prized scalp.
“The warning signs are there as they have already beaten two Welsh Premier sides, Carmarthen and Llangefni,” said Pool manager Tomi Morgan.
“We’re only two games away from the final – we’re halfway up the mountain but the last few steps are always the most difficult.”
John Keegan is suspended while Chris Venables is 50-50 with an ankle injury.