BANBURY United go into Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie with Bath City full of belief, says Andy Whing.

The Puritans are aiming to emulate last season’s run to the first round proper, a stage they have reached just five times in their history.

Standing in their way are a Bath side who sit 14th in Vanarama National League South, a level above the hosts.

It is a role reversal of last season, when Banbury were the higher-division team against fourth qualifying round opponents Bury Town and Canvey Island in the first round, when the latter won 2-1.

And another difference will be the presence of an unrestricted crowd, which was not possible 12 months ago due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Whing said: “We had a restricted number (against Bury) and in the first round we had no supporters at all.

“We’re delighted with a home draw, but it’s a tough game against a very good team.

“We expect to win, that’s our mentality and it’ll be no different on Saturday.”

Last season was Banbury’s best Cup run since 1973/74.

Read also: FA Cup first round draw details

If they beat Bath, the Puritans will be in Sunday’s draw alongside Oxford United and 47 other teams from Sky Bet Leagues One and Two.

Whing added: “We said last season, we don’t want it to be once every 50 years.

“At a club like this, it has to happen more regularly.”

Bath’s squad contains a familiar face in the shape of Whing’s ex-U’s teammate, goalkeeper Ryan Clarke.

The pair linked up again at Sunday’s Micky Lewis memorial match, where they both played for the U’s ‘Class of 2010’ side.

Whing said: “It was great to play on the same pitch as him again.”

Banbury’s form could not be better, with Tuesday’s 3-1 win over Bromsgrove Sporting breaking a 60-year club record for their longest unbeaten start to a campaign.

The Puritans are yet to lose any of their 14 games in all competitions and sit third in Pitching In Southern League Premier Central.

Their strong start is down to a younger, fitter squad, plus off-field improvements.

Banbury use GPS data to monitor performance and eat together after Thursday night training to ensure players are loading up with the right food, while they have brought in a head of recruitment and nutritionist.

It is all with a view to climbing out of step three of non-league for the first time in their history.

Whing said: “There aren’t many teams who do that at this level.

“We’ve got a step two mentality.

“We feel all these things will make us better all-around.”