STEVE Wilkes predicts a boost to his players’ confidence from reaching the FA Vase last 16 can spur them to go further in the competition.

Northwich Victoria clinched a date with Histon, a rival when the teams played in non-league’s top-flight a decade ago, as a reward for eliminating Newcastle Benfield – rated by bookmakers as one of the favourites to lift the trophy – last weekend.

They led 3-0 by the break, and resisted a recovery by the Northern League side in the second-half to record a fifth win in this season’s edition of the national knockout.

“We proved something,” said the Vics boss.

“These lads delivered a performance in the first-half that was probably one of the best in my time as a manager.

“It was so close to perfect that I didn’t know what to say to them in the dressing room.

“But what they then did is go out and mix it with a top side that threw absolutely everything they had at us – they had five or six people in the box every time they went forward.”

Benfield, who included former Vics front man Paul Brayson in their starting line-up, had already eliminated two teams from the North West Counties League’s Premier Division.

And Wilkes told the Guardian he sensed the north east outfit assumed his side would become a third.

“I think we surprised them,” he added.

“They hadn’t been to watch us, and their gaffer [Tom Wade] was on holiday in New York.

“We watched their warm-up, and it was lethargic.

“I felt then that we had a real chance.”

Vics certainly stunned their hosts, and goals from Joel Brownhill, Harvey Whyte and Matty Clarke sent their travelling supporters into raptures.

The visitors tired after the interval and survived a scare or two after Newcastle substitute Dennis Knight made it 3-2 with nine minutes left.

They held on, and will hit the road again next month when they visit Cambridgeshire to take on Histon.

The Stutes, managed by former Vics goalkeeper Lance Key, are currently second in the Eastern Counties League’s Premier Division with a single defeat to their name.

Wilkes said: “We’d have preferred a home tie, but the draw could have been worse.”

A testing run of matches before then means minds can’t wander too far.

Vics lost 2-1 at City of Liverpool on Tuesday and visit in-form Ashton Athletic on Saturday.