LIKE a fine wine, Michael Symes is maturing with age, particularly where the FA Cup is concerned.

The striker will be hoping to evoke memories of last season when he bids to help Cherries progress at the expense of Notts County in the second round today.

Symes emphatically put to bed a dismal individual record in the competition when he spearheaded a famous run for former club Accrington Stanley.

He netted three times as the Lancastrian minnows equalled their best performance in the cup, including one to stun Premier League Fulham in the fourth round.

And although Roy Hodgson’s Cottagers eventually prevailed, a valiant effort from Symes and 10-man Accy ensured a bumpy ride for the west London aristocrats at the Crown Ground.

In previous seasons, however, the boot had been firmly on the other foot with Symes falling victim to a couple of giant-killings.

With former clubs Bradford and Shrewsbury, he failed to negotiate the first hurdle on no fewer than four occasions and suffered ignominious defeats with both.

While his debut in the cup was ruined when Rushden & Diamonds claimed the scalp of the Bantams at Valley Parade in 2004, one of Symes’s later mishaps would prove to have ramifications for Cherries.

The frontman was a late substitute as Shrewsbury crashed to a shock 3-1 defeat against non-league Blyth Spartans in 2008. Victory for the Conference North strugglers set up a trip to Dean Court before a replay – laid bare by Setanta Sports – saw Cherries also humbled on the freezing north east coast.

“It was a horrible place to go,” recalled Symes. “It is a tight ground and they were the better team on the day. I came on as a sub near the end and it wasn’t one of my best FA Cup memories, that’s for sure!”

Symes also bowed out in the first round with Shrewsbury against neighbours Hereford in 2006 and at Walsall the following season. He did, however, get the chance to play at Wembley when he appeared in the League Two play-off final during Shrews’ defeat by Bristol Rovers in 2007.

His finest hour in the cup last season started when he doubled Accrington’s lead in a 2-1 home win over Salisbury before scoring again as they saw off Barnet in the second round.

And after a 1-0 home win over Gillingham had set up a date with Fulham, Symes netted to cancel out an Erik Nevland strike before Accy were reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of Darran Kempson.

“We should have won,” remembers Symes after goals from Damien Duff and Zoltan Gera had eventually seen the big guns through. “We were comfortably the better team and, until the sending off, there was only going to be one winner and that was us.

“The whole cup run was brilliant and the place was buzzing when we knew Fulham would be coming to town. Everyone was nervous before the game because we were playing a Premier League team but we were the better side.”

Symes returned on Tuesday following a near six-week layoff with a shoulder injury when he came off the bench to help Cherries to victory over Yeovil. The 27-year-old, who played in the 2002 FA Youth Cup final with Everton, sat out Cherries’ first round win over Tranmere but is hoping to feature when they travel to Meadow Lane.

“I’ve got good memories of playing there because I scored when Accrington beat them last season,” said Symes. “The draw probably could have been better for both teams and it’s going to be a tough game.”