PICKING out a dream FA Cup date at St George's Lane actually proved a nightmare scenario for Steve Slade.

Far from licking his lips at the prospect of chopping Worcester City down to size, the joint-manager of Bemerton Heath Harlequins cursed his side's bad luck.

For progressing into the competition's third qualifying stage presented a nice little earner, enabling the club to cover its bills for the season.

Salisbury-based Harlequins, currently struggling for league form in Sydenham Wessex Division One, picked up £3,250 after knocking out Penzance and Ilfracombe Town by 1-0 scorelines in earlier rounds.

Another £3,750 is on the table for today's winners, but Slade is pessimistic about Bemerton's chances of getting their hands on the cash.

Although Worcester are not enjoying the rudest of health in Nationwide North, he does not expect Quins to give Danny McDonnell too difficult a time in goal and shudders at the thought of keeping strikers Adam Webster and Andy Preece at bay.

"To be perfectly honest, we could have done without Worcester City," admits Slade. "There's a lot of small clubs at our level still in the FA Cup and I hoped for one of those at home.

"Prize money in the FA Cup is the most important thing for us. If we could have got through this next round, it would have given us a total of £7,000 and that would have seen us nicely for the season.

"But I don't think it is going to happen. We would have fancied our chances against a side similar in size to ourselves.

"The chances of beating Worcester are so slim. They might be struggling for results in their league, but they are three steps above us and they should have a strong enough side for us.

"Obviously, we'll be playing in front of quite a big crowd and that's good. But we've got a massive task on our hands. We are definitely up against it.

"I've been involved in a few cup shocks in the past to know that football can be a funny game. We will give it our best shot."

It is not the biggest FA Cup adventure for the Wiltshire outfit, who formed in 1989 following a merger between Bemerton Athletic, Bemerton Boys and Moon FC.

In the 1992/93 season, Quins progressed to the third qualifying round after dumping out Bognor Regis, now in Nationwide South, in a tie replayed three times.

And a club record gate of 1,118 turned up at their home ground, Western Way, for a first qualifying round match against Aldershot Town 11 years ago.

But Slade, who shares the manager's position alongside John Sainty, former director of coaching at Southampton and assistant to Dave Jones, is adamant that a stack of injuries will today bring an end to their current run.

He added: "We are decimated with injuries at the moment. We will go to Worcester with a lot of kids because it is the senior guys that are missing.

"We are weak enough as it is. We are without our goalkeeper, centre-forward and centre-half. We'll go there with what we've got."