Photo: John Rhodes
Bradford (Park Avenue) visit National League North counterparts Altrincham tomorrow, looking to keep the Emirates FA Cup dream alive.
The two sides met less than a month ago in league action, but the Robins left the Horsfall Stadium with three points in the bag after a narrow 3-2 win.
Prior to the last meeting, Bradford had shipped seven goals in their previous two games but Altrincham will face a different beast at the J. Davidson Stadium tomorrow. Mark Bower’s side have tightened their backline significantly, keeping two consecutive clean sheets on the road against Darlington and Alfreton Town.
Altrincham progressed into the Third Qualifying round of the competition with a convincing disposal of Whitley Bay, finding the back of the net on five occasions with no reply from their opponents. Bradford’s test was considerably sterner but they advanced regardless, edging past Darlington with a 1-0 victory.
Despite impressing in the Second Qualifying Round, Phil Parkinson’s side head into the clash with Bradford on the back of a defeat to Kidderminster Harriers. Three first-half strikes from the Harriers helped see off the Robins, who failed to mount a comeback despite a flurry of late chances.
Mark Bower is well aware of the threat Altrincham pose but claims that his side are confident ahead of the game:
“You’ve got to take each game on its merits, both teams know each other well, we only played each other a couple of weeks ago and I’m sure they’ll have a plan for us and we’ve got to have a plan for them. It’s a difficult tie away from home, we saw how Altrincham are and they pushed Kidderminster all the way in their last game. But the lads are confident, we’ll go and give it everything we’ve got and hopefully we’ll get that bit of luck that seems to elude us in cup competitions and hopefully get into the fourth qualifying round.”
GUIDE TO THE OPPONENTS:
Parkinson was appointed as Robins manager in April 2017. He joined the club from Nantwich Town, who he had been in charge of since February 2015. During his time with the Dabbers, he guided the club to the semi-finals of the FA Trophy in 2016 and the semi-finals of the Northern Premier League play-offs in 2017. An FA Vase-winning captain as a player with Nantwich, he also represented Port Vale after having spells with Crewe Alexandra and Reading as a youth player.
One To Watch:
Hulme is undoubtedly one of the division’s most potent forwards. The clinical finisher has found the back of the net on eight occasions already this season, picking up where he left off last season when he was the Robins’ top-scorer. He was also crowned the Northern Premier League Player of the Year after breaking the 30-goal barrier. Hulme worked with management duo Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson at Ramsbottom United and Salford City before making the move to Moss Lane in July 2017.
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