The latest column for Altrincham Today from manager Phil Parkinson…
It’s an early kick-off today at 12.30pm, as our Emirates FA Cup 3rd Round Qualifying tie at Halesowen Town has been chosen by the BBC as their match to cover in this round and is available to watch from 12.15pm via the BBC Red Button, BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport website.
This is good news for both clubs in terms of bringing national exposure and £2,000 revenue, which is in addition to the £11,250 prize money for the winners and £3,750 for the losers.
Halesowen have had a couple of bad seasons and were relegated from the Northern Premier League last season, but they have started this season well and are currently sitting third in the BetVictor Southern Division 1 Central and have already won through three rounds to reach this stage of the competition.
Whilst we were drawing at Chester a fortnight ago, the Yeltz overcame Stratford Town – who are a league above them – 4-1, that’s a good indicator that we are facing a real challenge to reach the final qualifying round of this fantastic competition.
Their new manager, Paul Smith, has assembled a good team that likes to play from the back, as we do, and they have improved the pitch at the Grove, so the game should be a good one to watch.
We had a blank Saturday last week, when our scheduled game against Gateshead was called off due to a waterlogged pitch, so the players will be raring to go and they have been superb in training this week.
Lewis Archer is cup-tied, having played for Alvechurch already this season in the FA Cup, but Max Harrop trained on Thursday night and should be available. Connor Hampson will not be fit enough to start the game. He has been struggling with a foot injury that he has tried to play through in recent weeks, but we feel that he needs to fully recover from that as a priority and hopefully that will not be too long now.
A sign of the stability that we have at Altrincham these days is that there will probably only be three changes from the team that started when we won 2-0 at the Grove on the club’s only previous visit to Halesowen just over 18 months ago.
The TV cameras and early kick-off make it a day that is outside of our norm and we have spoken to the players about dealing with this positively. If we have our best day and Halesowen have their best day, then we should go through, but if we are not fully focused and show any signs of weakness, then we know that Halesowen are fully capable of creating one of the shocks that this competition is infamous for.
It’s our job today to make sure that doesn’t happen.