STEVE Wilkes concedes Northwich Victoria have lost the element of surprise after reaching the FA Vase last 16 but will have earned opponents’ respect instead.

They head to Histon on Saturday buoyed by a stunning success at fancied Newcastle Benfield in the previous round.

It was his side’s fifth win in this season’s edition, and easily their most eye-catching too.

READ > Everything you need to know before Vics visit Histon

“People take notice after a result like that,” he told the Guardian.

“Newcastle certainly didn’t see it coming; they hadn’t been to watch us and expected us to roll over.

“Will Histon make that mistake? I doubt it.

“I know their manager described it as a ‘plum tie’ for them but I’ll don't read too much into stuff like that.”

Vics travel to Cambridgeshire, a destination they know well from when the clubs were rivals in the then Conference National a decade ago, as underdogs.

The Stutes, managed by former Northwich goalkeeper Lance Key, are unbeaten at home in the Eastern Counties League’s top-flight this season and have conceded only seven goals from 10 Premier Division games in front of their own supporters.

They have also progressed in each round of the FA Vase at the Glassworld Stadium.

Wilkes, enjoying his best run in the competition as a manager, has been encouraged though by how a relatively inexperienced side has handled big occasions so far this season.

They eliminated higher-ranked Widnes from the FA Cup and produced their best performance of the campaign – in the first-half at least – to establish a 3-0 interval lead at Newcastle.

A first derby victory against 1874 Northwich earlier this month was another boost to confidence.

“It’s vital that we take the positivity from those games into this one,” said Wilkes.

“The tone for that is set during training and on the coach journey because I won’t simply rely on 11 guys to get the job done.

“If it goes to extra-time then I might need four others to play a part.

“Every lad wants to play, of course, but those on the bench can’t sulk.

“That’s a mind-set that isn’t of any use to me.”

The arrival of left-back Jack Fleming, who made his debut against 1874, has led to Kirtis Monson leaving for Padiham.

Lewis Brownhill, older brother of Vics front man Joel and part of a Thatcham Town side that lifted the trophy at Wembley last season, was registered last week too.

However he won’t be involved this weekend.