Trophy run puts Magpies on map

Chorley stopper Sam Ashton
Chorley stopper Sam Ashton
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Garry Flitcroft believes giant-killing Chorley have the opportunity to cement their place back on the map of English football tomorrow.

The Magpies are one of only two clubs outside of levels five and six of the football pyramid left in the FA Trophy this season.

Chorley, who currently operate in the NPL Premier Division – which is level seven – travel to Conference Premier side Tamworth this weekend.

They, along with fellow level seven side Hungerford Town – who play in the Southern League – have the opportunity to win through to the last eight of the competition.

Magpies boss Flitcroft said: “This competition has put us back on the map and as one of only two sides below Conference level left, people are starting to pay attention.

“We are underdogs and the pressure is on Tamworth as they are two divisions above us.

“But we are in fine form and I can see us causing an upset.”

Chorley progressed to the third round after knocking Conference Premier side Forest Green Rovers out in a penalty shoot-out after a heroic performance from goalkeeper Sam Ashton.

Tamworth are 21st in the same division as Rovers, while Chorley are flying high in second place in their respective division.

Flitcroft said: “Tamworth are in the relegation zone and will be a different challenge, they will play more direct football than Forest Green.”

“They have been on a bad run and have had injuries. They will know that we have a great away record, they will be wary of us.

“Tamworth might be a full-time side but they also have some experienced, older legs in their side.

“Whereas we are a fit and fast side. The lads look after themselves so I don’t see fitness levels affecting us.”

Having only been beaten once away from home all season in the league, Flitcroft is confident his men can progress to the quarter-finals – and further still.

“I think the cup run has been great for the club,” he added.

“Not a lot of big sides are still in it and with Conference leaders Luton playing second place Cambridge we have every chance of progressing further.”

Flitcroft believes his side will relish the chance to play against higher league opposition.

He said: “We are hungrier for promotion thanks to the cup run, the lads know they are playing well and I have always said they should be playing above this level.

“I think the lads like testing themselves against good opponents.”

Chorley fans are travelling to the Midlands in their numbers, five supporters coaches are making the journey and Flitcroft believes more will attend.

He said: “The support has been brilliant, we are expecting between 400 and 500 and not just on the coaches – some will drive or get the train down.”

The Magpies exited the Doodson Cup on Tuesday at Victory Park as Witton Albion beat them 4-1.

Flitcroft used the match as an opportunity to utilise his squad and give some of the youth a run out.

He said: “We played a few lads from the Darwen Academy and it was good to rest three or four of the first team lads who are carrying a few knocks. We’ve had a hectic Christmas period and after Tamworth we have another big game against league leaders Skelmersdale, so it’s important to look ahead.”

Assistant manager Matt Jansen made his first start of the season against Witton.

And Flitcroft said: “Matt is concentrating on helping out with the coaching side.

“But Adam Mather had a knock and so Matt filled in at left back and got 70 minutes.”

Southport are hoping to build on their first victory under John Coleman when they entertain bottom club Hyde tomorrow.

Hyde are 15 points adrift at the foot of the Conference Premier and have not won a match this season.

l Southport lie in 19th place and are aiming to bag back-to-back victories.

They started 2014 with their first win since November 2 with a 1-0 home victory over Nuneaton Town last Saturday.

Danny Hattersley scored the solitary goal in the 88th minute for the Sandgrounders.

Coleman was appointed as the Sandgrounders’ manager in December and thus was not in the picture the last time the side’s met.

Southport beat Hyde back in September as Steven Tames netted a last-minute winner to seal all three points.

Elsewhere in the NPL Premier Division, AFC Fylde host Ashton United. Fylde bounced back from their New Year’s Day defeat to Chorley by beating Worksop 3-2 at home last weekend.

They are currently seventh in the league and could move up to fourth with a victory.

Meanwhile in the NPL First Division North, Burscough travel to Salford City tomorrow.

Clitheroe are at home to Ossett Albion and Kendal Town host Cammell Laird.