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View From The Dugout: It’s the biggest game of my life… but we have the players to bridge the gap

Today’s Emirates FA Cup 2nd Round tie at Portsmouth is the biggest and most important game that I have ever been involved in.

Manager Phil Parkinson’s latest column for Altrincham Today...

Today’s Emirates FA Cup 2nd Round tie at Portsmouth is the biggest and most important game that I have ever been involved in.

Whilst most people talk about the 3rd Round when the Premier League and Championship teams enter the competition, we have already pulled out a plum tie, as Portsmouth are a huge club that has won this competition as recently as 2008.

We know that we are in for a very tough game this afternoon. Kenny Jackett’s side are physically a very strong side that are dangerous on both wings and are on a very good run of form that has seen them reach within striking distance of the League 1 play-offs and we will have to be at our very best this afternoon to get a result.

Tom Peers celebrates after netting the winner in the FA Cup first round win at York

We travelled down yesterday afternoon and are full of confidence ourselves after beating York City again 1-0 at Bootham Crescent in the FA Trophy last Saturday. It was a fantastic performance by the players who executed the match plan superbly and adapted quickly when York set up slightly differently than we expected.

Tom Peers was again the scorer of the only goal of the game, as he was in the FA Cup a couple of weeks earlier and we received yet another away tie in Mondays’s FA Trophy 1st Round draw, we will head back to Yorkshire in a fortnight’s time to take on Farsley Celtic.

Phil Parkinson celebrates the first round win with goalkeeper Tony Thompson

There will be over 600 Alty fans cheering us on this afternoon and we know that they will be loud and proud in the Milton End of Fratton Park, which is an iconic traditional English stadium that we are all very excited about visiting.

We stayed overnight at York in the last round and that helped us prepare in the best possible way and it has been the same for this tie, as we have once again had the unusual luxury of being able to spend more time preparing the players, ensuring that when they walk out on that pitch just before 3pm this afternoon, that they have the best possible chance of causing a huge cup upset.

We are massive underdogs, but I know that these players have the ability to be able to bridge the three-division gap between the two clubs and if Portsmouth are not quite on their game, we will be set to capitalise on that and who knows where that might take us.

Photos: Jonathan Moore