West Didsbury & Chorlton are preparing for one of the biggest games in their history, when they travel to face FC United of Manchester in the semi-final of the Frank Hannah Manchester Premier Cup on Tuesday night.
It’s the first time West have reached the last four of the competition, and they certainly face a tough test against a side that is no stranger to opposition from our league.
FC United, of course, spent their first two years of existence in the NWCFL, and still hold league records for a clean sweep of trophies in one season – First Division title, League Challenge Cup, Reserve Division title and Reserve Division Cup in 2006-07 – as well as a league record crowd of 6,023 who turned up on the final day of the 2005-06 season, when the club were presented with the Second Division championship trophy before their game against Great Harwood Town at Gigg Lane.
Since then, the fans-owned club has progressed up through the non-league pyramid, and currently sit in 13th place in National League North.
A semi-final against opponents from three leagues above is a daunting prospect, but West manager Steve Settle says that everyone at the club is up for the game.
“We are looking forward to the game, it is a big game for us, and it is up myself and Brocks (assistant manager Steve Brockley) to make sure we are well prepared for the game and give a good account of ourselves.
“I think it would be naive for us to go there and play 4-3-3 and pin them back in their own half. They have got talented players and are playing three leagues higher than we are.
“We need to make sure that we don’t make any silly mistakes, that is the first priority, but it is a cup tie so anything can happen.
“We will have a little look at things tactically and try and work on some things we’ll do when the opposition are in possession, such as when to press and when not to, and we’ve had them watched to see if there are any areas where we can cause them problems.
“I found myself when I played at Conference and Conference North level that people step off you a bit, and it becomes more about how you can break them down, and watching that the opposition don’t pick you off on the break with their quality.
“If we are solid, keep men behind the ball and hit them on the counter attack, we do have players who can hurt them. This season we have scored lots of goals hitting teams on the break.
“Getting to this stage of the competition, we have knocked out Radcliffe Borough and Glossop North End, so we have shown that on our day we can compete with teams at a higher level.
“FC United are obviously a different prospect as they are a couple of leagues higher, but it will be an excellent occasion for everyone involved in our club, and the lads shouldn’t need any extra motivation from me”.