STRATFORD Town may be hovering just above the Southern League premier division relegation places, but ASHTON UNITED co-boss Paul Phillips has dismissed any suggestion they will be pushovers when they visit Hurst Cross tomorrow (Saturday) in the second qualifying round of the FA Trophy.
“We’ve had them watched and they have quite a bit of experience in the team and are pretty quick at getting forward,” he commented.
“I think focusing on their league position gives a false sense of security because if they win their games in hand they can go right up to the play-off places. They’re a big, physical team and I’m expecting a very tough game.”
Unhappy with the commitment of some players, Phillips and partner Steve Halford have brought three reserves into the squad: Josh Steadman, Danny Vincent and Dylan Moth. They replace midfielder Chris Sutherland, who has been released, and Matt Chadwick and Aaron Burns who have been dropped but told they are free to leave if they can find another club.
“We’ll see if the youngsters have a bit more fire in their bellies,” said Phillips.
Striker Dale Johnson misses the tie through injury.
If the Robins win they receive £3,250 in prize money.
CURZON ASHTON fans will be eager to see if super striker Mike Norton makes an appearance against North Ferriby at the Tameside Stadium after his return from FC United.
Alex Brown continues to be suspended and Jordan Wright is doubtful with a slight hamstring problem. Ben Atkinson sustained ankle ligament damage in training last night and is 50/50.
Defender Tom Eckersley has recovered after his lengthy injury and is available for loan or dual registration to gain match fitness. Anyone interested in signing him should contact manager John Flanagan.
STALYBRIDGE CELTIC return to Vanarama North action after two successive cup defeats when they welcome bottom club Worcester City to Bower Fold.
Manager Liam Watson will be without defender John Shaw (knee) and midfielder Danny Wisdom (ankle) and awaits a late check on central defender Jack Higgins as his team look to arrest a slide that has seen them lose four of their last six games.
Watson may look to make changes up front as the Bridge have scored only two goals in 572 minutes, with neither of them coming from a striker. In fact it’s more than 12 hours since a Celtic forward found the back of the net.
Gary Lowe has two central defenders missing as HYDE UNITED prepare to entertain Colwyn Bay in the Integro Doodson League Cup.
Joe Wilkinson has a hamstring injury and Spencer Harris has a family illness. Midfielder Dave Birch is also unavailable. “We’re down to the bare bones,” said Lowe.
In the Evo-stik NPL first division north, it’s as you were for DROYLSDEN who are away to Clitheroe, GLOSSOP NORTH END at home to Ossett Albion and MOSSLEY who go to Trafford.
Very heavy rain is forecast so make sure you check games are on before you travel. I’ll do my best to tweet any information.