View from the Dugout: We’re underdogs today – but we’re desperate to make the first round proper

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Manager Phil Parkinson with his latest column for Altrincham Today…

It doesn’t get much bigger than today’s game at Southport in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round, with a mouth-watering tie in prospect and we’re really looking forward to it.

In the league game last month, after a poor first half, it looked like we might have been in for a thumping, but we brought on Yusifu Ceesay and Josh Hancock on after the break and that changed the shape of the game and we went close to getting a point, going down 2-1 in the end.

Highlights from last week’s draw at Guiseley:

We set up more defensively than we have ever done, with three in midfield and we showed Southport too much respect. We’ve learned from that, that we need to stick with what we know best and we’ll be much more attack-minded today.

I’ve got a lot of respect for the Southport management team, Liam Watson and Jon McCarthy, it will be an interesting contrast in styles and the team that imposes their style better on the day will probably go through.

Shaun Densmore challenges for the ball

Liam Watson in his post-match interview, that night, said that was the best first-half he had ever seen as manager of the Sandgrounders and he’s just completed 500 games managing them in three spells, but we know that we fell well short in that first half and I think that we have progressed quite a bit since that game in early September. This FA Cup tie should show how far we have come and whilst we are very much the underdogs against a full-time team, we know that anybody can beat anybody else in this competition.

I’m very disappointed that we have lost Ashley Hemmings, who has been recalled by AFC Fylde, who have cancelled his contract to enable Ash to join a full-time club. Ash has enjoyed his time at Alty and I would like to think that we have helped him get back on track. Unfortunately, the boxes that we couldn’t tick are to give him full-time football and pay him 52 weeks a year and at this stage of his career, he needs that, so the move is a no brainer for him.

Andy White looks to win possesion for the Robins

Both teams are on good runs of form Southport have certainly progressed from last season and their players have bought into what Liam and Jon want them to do, but I really think that we are heading in the right direction as well.

After two seasons of joy, it’s been tougher for us in the league this season as expectations are now much higher but we are really excited about this cup tie and desperately want to have our name on ball number 55 in Monday night’s draw for the first round, when all of the League 1 and 2 clubs enter the competition.

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