Salford City take on Chesterfield in the second round of the Emirates FA Cup this Sunday in the hope of reaching the third round for the first time in their history.
The Ammies are coming into the fixture in a good run of form, picking up seven points out of a possible nine in their last three league fixture, but the manager feels that Chesterfield will be a test similar to the one faced against Dagenham & Redbridge in the previous round of the competition.
Manager Gary Bowyer said: “Chesterfield are top of their league, and we know what to expect. We were given a real good insight into the National League with the game against Dagenham, who I thought were a very strong outfit as well. So, the players and myself and the staff are well aware of what to expect on Sunday.
“You only have to look at the business that Chesterfield have done this summer and the amount of money they have spent in themselves, we know it’s going to be a tough, tough challenge.”
Despite not playing since last Saturday, Bowyer admits it has still be a positive week for the club with several players returning to training following spells on the side line due to injury.
He said: “It’s been a good week because we’ve had no mid-week games so it’s enabled us to do some real good work with the players. Obviously, it’s been well documented that we’ve had several missing through injuries so this week we’ve had a few back and we have been able to just go over some of the basics again.
“So, it’s been a good week as you can imagine, seven points out of nine, the lads are coming in bouncing and there’s a good feel about the place and they’re looking forward to Sunday now.”
Salford are facing a team in a good run of form themselves. Chesterfield sit top of the National League, having lost just one game all season.
Speaking about Sunday’s opponents, Ammies Right-back Liam Shepard said: “Chesterfield are flying, they are full of confidence, and they play good football as we’ve seen so it’s all about us and how we play.
“I’ve looked at the results and the table to see where they are and they’ve only lost one game, so that just shows how much of a good team they are this year and it’s just about making sure we can deal with their strengths.
“We can use our strengths against their weaknesses and put the ball in the back of the net. If we are on our game and in form, then it shouldn’t be a problem.
🗣 “It’s just about taking your opportunity to get to the next round…”
— Salford City FC (@SalfordCityFC) December 3, 2021
“At the end of the day, it’s another game of football and it doesn’t matter if it’s against Chesterfield or Manchester United, it’s a game of football and you have to make sure you do your job.”
The prospect of the third round of the FA cup is one that excites both the manager and the players but the main focus is to take it a game at a time.
Shepard said: “We are just taking it game by game and round by round. It would be nice to win Sunday and then we get a big team and a chance to play against the players you watch week in week out on Match of the Day.”
This is Salford’s first fixture in the FA cup at home this season, after a close win away from home to Dagenham and Redbridge in the first round, something which Shepard believes will play into Salford’s hands on Sunday.
He explained: “The home advantage is a good advantage. I think we have a good record here this season, so it is good. The more fans there are, the better I find myself playing.
“It’s just the atmosphere, that’s what makes football, you’ve seen that last year when we couldn’t have fans and it was rubbish, it was like playing in the training ground and it just showed how important the fans are to all of us.”
Bowyer has good history in the FA cup from his time at the likes of Blackburn, Blackpool, and Bradford. He understands, from experience, the important impact this cup can have on a club as a whole.
He said: “I think the prospect of the third round is big for every league club and non-league club at this stage. For us, to get into the third round you can then hope to get one of the big boys away from home and that is best for the finances and obviously for the lads themselves to go and test it.
“I was fortunate when manager at Blackburn to have two great FA cup runs, in the sense that we drew with Manchester City and took them to a replay, which was a fantastic experience for myself going against [Manuel] Pellegrini.
“Then in the next year we had a wonderful FA cup run, knocking out Stoke and Swansea and we took Liverpool to a replay in the quarter finals, I know they will be memories that I will have for the rest of my life.
“For someone who was growing up watching the FA cup and it being such a massive celebration that day, it is still a massive cup competition for myself these days.”