It’s been a bizarre few days for Matt Lench.
In his day job he’s a media planner, but at the weekend he turns into a goal machine.
The Slough Town midfielder bagged a hat-trick in the first round of the FA Cup as Slough swept Gainsborough Trinity aside with a thumping 6-0 win, meaning he is currently the joint top scorer in the oldest and most famous cup competition in the world.
“Yeah, it has been a bit mental to be honest”, Lench tells Dream Team.
He continues: “Having your match performance analysed by Dion Dublin on the BBC wasn’t something I was really anticipating.”
While some will argue that the FA Cup isn’t ‘what it used to be’, there is no doubting the competition’s enduring charm.
Call it the magic of the FA Cup, call it a much-needed alternative from the often disconnected glitz and glamour of the Premier League; fans across the country cannot deny there is still an endearing lure about the tournament.
So to be sitting pretty at the summit of the top scorers list in this year’s competition is something Lench isn’t going to forget in a hurry.
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He says: “I’ve had a few emails and text messages regarding it, yeah. To be honest, I hope it stays that way!
“If I can nab another in the Rochdale game and keep my name on the sheet until the end of the season I’ll be among some of the footballing greats – Matt Lench from the Southern Premier.”
He’s not wrong – the top scorers in previous seasons of the FA Cup is potentially the trickiest pub quiz question possible.
Last season Spurs striker Son Heung-Min shared the honour on six goals alongside Curzon Ashton’s Adam Morgan.
The previous year, Reading’s Matej Vydra won the tournament’s golden boot, and the year prior to that Jon Stead, Paul Gallagher and Saido Berahino shared it with five.
However, aside from personal glory, Lench understands the broader picture of what a cup run can do for a side like Slough Town, who currently play in the seventh tier of the English football pyramid.
He adds: “On a personal level, my phone’s not stopped since, it’s the greatest day I’ve had on a football pitch.
“I didn’t anticipate the reaction we had and it’s just amazing to have an FA Cup ball signed by the team for life.
“But it’s great for the club most importantly. Financially it’s massive and it keeps clubs like ours afloat.
“It gives us the chance next year to potentially expand the budget, we’re near the top of the league at the moment and we want to go up.
“The cup run is worth somewhere close to £100,000, so for the club it is incredibly important.”
Slough Town now face Rochdale at home at the start of December for a place in the much-vaunted third round, when the Premier League’s big boys enter the field.
Despite the already daunting task of having to beat a team currently 19th in League One, Lench firmly has one dream tie in his sights.
“I was hoping for the lowest ranked side left in it for the second round, to give us the best opportunity to go and play Man United away and see if Jose would park the bus against Slough Town,” Lench jokes.
“I do fancy doing a job on Paul Pogba if we got United away, I don’t think that he’s got as much as they make out.”
You can’t begrudge the Southern Premier League team’s time in the sun.
After all, the players go through great sacrifices on a weekly basis to balance full-time careers and semi-professional football on the side, as Lench explains.
“If you look at the Southern Premier, there’s so many long journeys – Weymouth, Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, King’s Lynn… and a lot of them are on Tuesday nights.
“You have to take half days here and there, it eats into your holiday time, and you always have it on your mind because you have to keep your fitness up.”
Incredibly, Lench’s hat-trick against Gainsborough Trinity was his second hat-trick in as many games, after scoring a treble in their FA Trophy win over Kidlington the previous weekend.
But despite all this, it is the simple things in life as a semi-pro footballer that still gets Lench excited as they prepare for the next round in under a month’s time.
He says: “Making the second round of the FA Cup makes all the travelling and late nights worth it.
“Also, we’ll have the names on the back of our shirts, which is something we rarely have!”
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