Former Boro defender hoping for a Riverside return

Approaching the end of a lengthy playing career with Harrogate Town, Darlington-born Alan White has been presented the perfect last hurrah: Middlesbrough away in the FA Cup.

It was at Boro where the defender's career began under Bryan Robson, but there's only one problem for Harrogate's captain: he's suspended for tonight's second round replay at Hastings.

Harrogate and Hastings meet for the second time this evening having drawn 1-1 at Wetherby Road almost a fortnight ago.

White set up Harrogate's goal, hooking the ball back into the danger area for Tom Platt to head home during the latest highlight of the Yorkshire's club's Cup run, with the next stop being the Riverside providing they win tonight at the Pilot Field.

White, is confident, however, of winning the battle of Hastings at the second attempt.

"It's a nightmare to be missing the game. I've been captain in every round of the FA Cup so far," said 36-year-old, who had two spells with his hometown club.

"We've done ever so well and the Cup's run been great. We beat Hyde, who are in the division above us, we then beat Torquay away and Hastings was the best draw we could've had as they're the only team below us in the Cup.

"We've got a good team and a good set of lads. We should've beaten them in the first game, but unfortunately we couldn't finish them off.

"I'm confident that well finish it on Thursday and then it's bring on the Boro hopefully."

Harrogate, managed by Simon Weaver, are 14th in the Conference North while Hastings are 17th in Premier Division of the Isthmian League - one level below Harrogate.

Whoever wins this evening will travel to Teesside n January 5, a prospect that White, who left Boro in 1997, cannot avoid being excited about.

He said: "Providing the lads get through on Thursday, which we should because we have got a better team, we've the got the perfect draw: Middlesbrough away.

"I was an apprentice for one year and a pro for three and a half. I left at 21 for Luton, but Boro is where I started. I was on the bench a couple of times in the Premier League, but I wasn't ready if I'm honest. The only game I played was in the Anglo-Italian Cup against Ancona. That was fun.

"At Harrogate there's me and John McDermott, the assistant manager, who played all his career at Grimsby Town, but he's from Middlebrough, so he's got a lot of friends and family in the town.

"It's fantastic for us both, the perfect draw."

White is banned as he is serving a four-match ban after receiving his second red card of the season, though he pleads innocence.

"I got sent off against Gainsborough for nothing," he says. "The linesman called the referee over, and then the referee said 'Whitey, can I have a word', I said 'yeah, no problem, what's up?' And then he sent me off!

"The linesman reckoned he'd seen me try to head-butt a centre-forward, a lad called Stamp.

"We'd gone to shoulder to shoulder, that's all. I don't know how he could send me off when even their striker said it wasn't a red card.

"It's four matches because I was also sent off at Gainsborough in the league - the other game was the FA Trophy - for two bookable offences.

"The first one was for handball. When a cross came in their striker, Paul Connor - a mate of mine - hand-balled it to try and punch the ball into the back of the net, but it went out for a goal kick and the referee says it was me and gives a penalty!

"My reputation is preceding me I think so I'm not having much luck."

Harrogate hope they will enjoy better luck this evening.

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