Ashton Athletic are gearing up for the biggest game in their history, as they prepare to welcome FC Halifax Town to Brocstedes Park on Saturday in the Second Qualifying Round of the Emirates FA Cup.
After a stunning 7-2 win over Evo-Stik League Mossley in the previous round a fortnight ago, the Yellows have been rewarded with a plum tie against opponents from three leagues above.
Yellows joint-manager Dougie Pitts, who along with fellow managers Jay Foulds and Ben Kay has been working hard to prepare the squad for the game, says everyone is looking forward to the big day.
“Saturday promises to be a fantastic occasion for the club and certainly the most important game in the club’s short history”. said Dougie.
“There’s been a fantastic buzz about the club ever since our victory against Worksop on penalties, and that was only enhanced by the victory against Mossley.
“This week has been somewhat hectic, with social media going crazy and the announcement that we had made the game all-ticket, meaning a lot of activity at the club.
“Although we have a small committee we must say a huge thank you from ourselves and the players for their dedication in preparing for the game. They have had emergency meetings after emergency meetings to ensure Saturday runs as smoothly as possible.
“We just hope people will bear with us as we are expecting a crowd more than quadruple our record attendance”.
FC Halifax Town enter the competition at this stage, and currently sit 10th place in Vanarama National League North, six points off the top spot currently occupied by AFC Fylde.
Their manager Billy Heath took over in May, becoming the fourth manager to occupy the managerial chair at the Shay in the space of a year, replacing Jim Harvey just two weeks after guiding North Ferriby United into the Vanarama Conference.
North Ferriby beat AFC Fylde in the National League North promotion final, but Heath decided to remain at Step 2 when Halifax came calling, and within weeks had returned to his former club to sign left-back Josh Wilde, captain Liam King and striker Tom Denton.
Denton in particular has quickly adjusted to his new surroundings, and will undoubtedly be the Shaymen’s danger man having scored seven goals in 11 appearances this season. He is also a man that the Ashton Athletic defence should have no difficulty identifying in the heat of battle, as he stands 6’ 7” tall.
The Shaymen come into the game on a mixed run of form, having won two of their last six games, and fell to a 3-2 defeat on Tuesday night away to Gainsborough Trinity.
The Yellows, meanwhile, warmed up for the game with a trip to New Mills on Wednesday night which Dougie admits had to be fitted in around their own hectic schedule.
“It has obviously been a busy week for ourselves with a game midweek away to New Mills, and being asked to complete interviews on radio and for the FA. Obviously we sent Jay Foulds to the radio shows as he certainly has the looks!!
“On the footballing side, it has been ‘same as’ really and we have tried to keep things as normal as possible.
“We know the lads will be up for it, and hopefully they will enjoy the day, raise their game and give a fantastic account of themselves against a quality Halifax team.
“They are all looking forward to testing themselves against players from much higher up the pyramid and they have certainly earned the right to do so.
“We look forward to seeing Brocstedes full, and we’re sure it will be a fantastic atmosphere”