ALTRINCHAM FC will this Saturday attempt to reach the FA Cup fourth qualifying round as they host Morpeth Town at Moss Lane in what will be the clubs first ever meeting (KO 15:00 BST).
Having beaten Gainsborough Trinity 3-2 in the second qualifying round thanks to a goal from John Cyrus and a brace from Damian Reeves, the Robins will be hoping this cup tie provides some respite from their poor league form.
Altrincham are winless in the league this season and sit second from bottom in the Vanarama National League North having taken just four points from 12 games.
Last time out in the league Altrincham suffered a disappointing 1-0 home loss to Boston United, though that was a relatively good performance for a defence that have shipped four or more goals in a game on three occasions already.
Having beaten Colwyn Bay, North Shields and Seaham Red Star in previous rounds, Morpeth earned this third qualifying round tie with Altrincham following a stunning 4-2 away win over Blyth Spartans.
The Highwaymen blitzed the Spartans to lead 3-0 at half time after a brace from Michael Chilton and a tidy finish from Luke Carr.
So despite the fact Morpeth sit three divisions below Altrincham they may fancy themselves in this tie on recent form having won their last three games.
Most recently on Wednesday night (September 29), though they left it late before scoring a 94th minute winner courtesy of Steven Anderson which handed his side a fine 3-2 win over Whitley Bay.
That win took them to fifth in the Ebac Northern League, though this is not a true reflection of Morpeth’s performances, as they sit just eight points off the league leaders, South Shields, with three games in hand.
Altrincham have a proud history in the FA Cup holding the record for knocking out more Football League sides (17) than any other team who have spent their entire history playing in non-league.
They furthered their record last season by knocking out Barnsley in round one, though they lost 3-2 to Colchester in the next round.
This Morpeth side, however, have proved they do not shy away from the big games, as last season they played Hereford off the park to beat them 4-1 at Wembley to win the FA Vase trophy.
Regardless of the result, it is a special occasion for Altrincham legend Damian Reeves, as he is in line to make his 300th Robins appearance.
During his 299 games for Altrincham he has scored 163 goals – including two 40+ goal seasons in 2011-12 and 2012-13.
His tally for this year is currently at four goals making him the clubs joint top scorer along with attacking midfielder James Lawrie.
New signing Phil Marsh could also be in line to make his Robins debut subject to international clearance, though Daniel Hall, Shaun Densmore and Tim Deasy are all ruled out through injury.
MORE ON MORPETH | Let's carry on the build for tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/Z7WXCx2NKI
— Altrincham FC (@altrinchamfc) September 30, 2016
Altrincham must be wary of the threat that Morpeth pose; mainly through attacking duo Paul Robinson and Michael Chilton who have a combined goal-to-game statistic of 20 goals in their last 26 games; impressive is an understatement.
Yet, it is not just the goal scorers the Robins must worry about as former Durham City midfielder Luke Carr already has four goals and seven assists to his name and having scored versus Blyth Spartans in the last round he will be keen to add to these statistics come Saturday.
Morpeth’s joint managers Nick Gray and Dave Malone have impressed this season with their stellar tactics and will be keen to utilise this array of attacking talents as the club bid to reach the fourth qualifying round, something the club has not achieved in 19 years.
Robins boss Jim Harvey on the other hand will be hoping the FA Cup tie brings some much needed confidence back to Moss Lane as well as being a welcome distraction from the poor league form for the players and fans alike.
Altrincham: Andrew Dawber, Sam Patterson, Josh Doherty, Jake Moult, John Cyrus, Alan Goodall (c), James Lawrie, Greg Wilkinson, Craig Hobson, Damian Reeves, Sean Miller, Sam Heathcote, Harry Cain, Tom Hannigan, Danny Hattersley, Charlie Joyce.
Morpeth Town: Karl Dryden, Stephen Forster, James Novak, Ben Sayer, Chris Swailes, Charles Reid, Damen Mullen, Keith Graydon, Luke Carr, Michael Chilton, Paul Robinson, Steven Anderson, Sean Taylor, Jordan Fry, Michael Hall, Matthew Grieve, Liam Henderson, Mateusz Halambiec.
By Matt Bullin and Ryan Dobney
@matt_bullin01 and @20_Dobney