PLAYER-coach Sam Collins knows only too well the dangers of playing non-league opposition in the FA Cup.
Back in November 2010, Mick Wadsworth’s side were taken to a replay by Vauxhall Motors.
A James Brown header saved Hartlepool United’s blushes that year as Pools won the replay 1-0 and Collins – who played in that match four years ago – has warned his current team-mates not to be complacent.
Only Collins and Neil Austin, of the current crop of players, featured against Vauxhall, with current boss Paul Murray named on the bench for the replay.
Tomorrow, the trio will be looking to get the better of Ryman Premier League side East Thurrock United in the first round of the FA Cup.
Collins told SportMail: “The FA Cup is a great competition to play in.
“It is a home draw for us and it will be a tough game. It doesn’t matter who you are playing in the FA Cup, they are always difficult matches.
“The aim is to get a good result and get into the next round and for us to build on how we finished the game last Saturday against Newport County.
“But I have played in quite a few matches like this and they are never easy games, no matter who they are against.
“East Thurrock United will come here, work hard and try to get a result.
“We have to make sure we are ready for a really tough test.”
Pools are unquestionably the overriding favourites going into the match despite struggling in Sky Bet League Two this season, the side currently bottom of the league.
But they will have to be on their guard against in-form Rocks striker Sam Higgins, who has netted 12 goals since the end of August.
Higgins scored a hat-trick against Bath City in the fourth preliminary round of the FA Cup and bagged all four goals in his side’s 4-2 win over Hungerford Town in the FA Trophy first qualifying round on Tuesday.
Collins is aware of the threat posed and is confident the Pools defence have enough to cope.
The 37-year-old added: “Every team has a threat. We know Sam has been scoring goals but we have to deal with that.”
Murray’s assistant Willie Donachie made the long journey down to Essex on Tuesday night to see East Thurrock in action and the Pools boss is fully aware of where their main threat lies.
Murray added: “Willie went down to watch East Thurrock and he said Sam Higgins is a threat.
“But we will be ready for them, simple as that.
“This game is about us and if we get the tempo right and the way I want to play right then we should be fine – but this is the FA Cup isn’t it?”