STALYBRIDGE CELTIC have got it all to do if they are to beat North Ferriby in tomorrow (Saturday’s) FA Cup fourth qualifying round encounter at Bower Fold.
The Hull side have lost only once this season – 1-0 at Tamworth on the opening day – and have won their last four games. Not surprisingly, they are bursting with confidence and skipper Liam King has said he wouldn’t want to play them given their current form. Manager Billy Heath believes the time is right for the club to reach the first round proper for the first time in their 81-year history.
Celtic boss Liam Watson certainly expects a tough tie. He commented: “Anyone who has come across North Ferriby in the last few years will have nothing but respect for them.
“Billy Heath has done an mazing job and of course they won the FA Trophy at Wembley last season when they beat Wrexham.
“When I was at Telford the two of us went head-to-head for the league and it went right to the wire, so I’ve got nothing but respect for North Ferriby.
“Anyone who has ever, ever had an easy game off North Ferriby had better tell me who they are because I’ve never seen one.”
North Ferriby’s record against the Bridge is impressive with three wins and a draw from their four meetings since winning promotion to the National League North.
Heath told the Hull Daily Mail: “We are very confident even though Stalybridge will make things difficult for us. We have enjoyed success lately against sides who like to get the ball down and play football. Stalybridge are more direct and are more threatening from set pieces.
“It will be a different challenge to what we have been used to and we will have to defend our penalty box well.”
Heath, who has seen his side win their last three matches without a recognised striker in the side, should have Ryan Kendall back.
Kendall, who scored twice when Ferriby won the Trophy, is available after complications following the birth of his twins. Midfield trio Nathan Hotte, Ross Armstrong and Jamie Forrester miss out.
Stalybridge are hoping to get to the first round for the first time since 2003 and see a glimmer of hope in the fact that despite their great record, Ferriby have only won once away from home this season.
Aidan Chippendale (illness) and Jon Shaw are unavailable but Danny Wisdom could be in for a surprise return after missing all but one of Celtic’s games this season with a groin injury.
Long-term injury victim Alex Mudimu has returned to full training and could be available for selection next week
The winning side will receive £12,500. The first-round draw takes place on Monday and will be live on BBC Two, Radio 5 Live Sport and www.bbc.co.uk/sport at 7pm.
In Vanarama North, CURZON ASHTON are hopeful that defender Andy Watson will be fit for the trip to Corby. He is described as 50/50 with a foot injury. Simon Lakeland has a bug and could miss out. However, Simon Woodford should make his return.
Gary Burnett and Shelton Payne have been released. Tom Eckersley is back in light training and should be fit before the end of November.
Defender Mark Lees, signed on loan from Telford United, is in the ASHTON UNITED squad alongside striker Dylan Moth for the Evo-stik NPL premier division game with Stamford at Hurst Cross.
Jeff King and Jody Banim both miss out with knocks. Joe Connor and Alex Frost continue to be sidelined with long-term injuries. Striker Aaron Burns completes a three-match ban.
HYDE UNITED, who face Ramsbottom at Ewen Fields, have three players missing. Central defender Shane Killock has torn a calf and could be out for four to six weeks. Lee Neville may have broken a rib, and there are fears that Michael Muscat has torn knee ligaments which, if true, would put him out for several months.
Manager Gary Lowe said: “It’s hit us very hard and all we can do is shuffle things round. Injuries provide other players with opportunities.”
Midfielder Grant Spencer (brother of Scott) and academy striker Michael Boateng come into the squad.
In the first division north, Steve Hall, Luke Sharry, Dan Grimshaw, Shaq Adam and Ben Hampson are all injured for DROYLSDEN who will be hoping to make it three league wins on the bounce at New Mills who have lost every one of their 15 NPL matches this season.
Ben Richardson is the only absentee for GLOSSOP NORTH END, who are home to Prescot Cables. Kelvin Lugsden returned in midweek after recovering from a broken ankle.
MOSSLEY have a full squad for their game at Clitheroe where they will be hoping to record a sixth consecutive victory.