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View From The Dugout: Let’s draw on home comfort to make Cup progress today

Today we take a break from the league as we take on Ramsbottom United in the Buildbase FA Trophy at the second round qualifying stage.

Today we take a break from the league as we take on Ramsbottom United in the Buildbase FA Trophy at the second round qualifying stage.

We had Rammy watched in their eye-catching win over Shaw Lane AFC in the first qualifying round. Having drawn 2-2 at Shaw Lane in the first game, when the Yorkshire side equalised with a last-gasp penalty, it seemed as if that was going to be a turning point in the tie, as Ramsbottom trailed through the only goal of the game from a Paul Clayton header, with less than 10 minutes to go.

Watch highlights of Alty’s draw against Buxton:

It was two of our former players who turned the game, as Sam Heathcote equalised, just a few minutes after coming on as a substitute and that goal really turned the tide of the game, although it took until the second half of extra-time for the Rams to take the lead through Jerome Wright, who scored again to make it 3-1 with a very good strike and Phil Dean sealed a great night for the home side just before the end.

When you consider that Shaw Lane are just four points off the top of our division, with three games in hand, that has to go down as a brilliant night for our opponents this afternoon.

We want to get the job done today at the first time of asking, as Ramsbottom’s away form, like us, is not as impressive as their home form and we know that a Tuesday night replay would be difficult as they are very good at taking advantage of the tight, heavy, pitch at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium. The J Davidson Stadium offers us the space and surface quality to play the sort of football that we like and I hope that we can capitalise on that opportunity that home advantage gives us.

Josh Hancock celebrates his equaliser against Buxton last weekend

Jake Moult completes his two-match suspension today and Tom Hannigan (knee) and Lewis Short, who sustained a calf injury when he got cleaned out by Josh Hine at Warrington, are both out of contention.

Connor Hampson can play in this competition for us, as part of his loan arrangement with Stockport County, although his parent club do not want him to be cup-tied in the Cheshire Senior Cup, therefore he will not be able to play against Chester in midweek.

John Johnston on the ball against Buxton

Josh Amis and Laurence Taylor will play for the reserves today at Greenalls Padgate St Oswald’s and will both start against Chester on Tuesday. I gave both players the option of playing for the reserves or starting on the bench for the first team today and they both opted for a start today and then again on Tuesday in the Cheshire Senior Cup, to give themselves the best chance of competing for a place in the starting line-up at Sutton Coldfield next Saturday.

Pictures: Michael Ripley