'I've been in their shoes': Marvin Ekpiteta knows Blackpool will have to raise their game to avoid FA Cup upset against Eastbourne
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This afternoon’s first round tie, which kicks off at the earlier time of 2.30pm, has been described as the biggest game in Eastbourne’s 55-year history.
Subsequently, Ekpiteta is expecting the National League South outfit to play beyond their normal capabilities and give Neil Critchley’s side a tough test.
“We know they’re going to work hard, we know it’s going to be a tough test and we know they’re going to give it their all,” the defender told The Gazette.
“They’re going to step up their game because they’re playing against a side from the higher leagues. We’ve just got to concentrate on our normal game.
“I’ve been in their shoes before playing against a team in a higher league. You know you’ll get that extra 10 per cent when you’re playing against a bigger club.
“They’ll definitely come out and give it their all, so we’ve got to match them and be better.”
Having come through the non-league system with Chelmsford City, Concord Rangers, East Thurrock United and Leyton Orient, Ekpiteta hasn’t experienced much of the FA Cup proper but he’s hoping to put that right this season.
“I don’t have too many memories of the competition if I’m being honest, I’ve only played in the first round once or twice,” the 25-year-old said.
“I haven’t really got past the first round proper so hopefully this is the time we can do that and get as far as we can.
“I’ve played against Eastbourne a few times in my career, but I’m not really sure about their current setup because things obviously change a lot in non-league.
“Players and managers chop and change throughout the season, every season.”
One thing Blackpool will have to contend with is Eastbourne’s 4G pitch, which has required extra preparation in the build-up with Critchley having his players train on astra-turf before training on the Priory Ground surface on Saturday.
Discussing the differences between a grass pitch and an artificial surface, Ekpiteta said: “I’ve played on it a few times in non-league but I’m not a big fan of it to be honest. We’ve just got to adapt our game and play how we normally play.
“The ball bounces funny, it doesn’t bounce as much and it sort of goes flat. The skid is different, there’s quite a few things.
“It’s not the best for your joints either, so you can’t really move freely. But the plus side for us is that you can get the ball down and play because it’ll be flat.”