Top of the National League North and the highest-placed team currently in the draw, you’d think Bradford Park Avenue would be the team to avoid? Not if you’re Altrincham, that is.
The Robins have already played Avenue twice this season and won both, following up their 3-2 away success in the league back in September with a 4-2 home victory in the FA Cup three weeks later.
Now boss Phil Parkinson is set to go head to head with Avenue counterpart Mark Bower again – this time on the road to Wembley in the FA Trophy.
Yes, Avenue may have flown out of the traps so far this season in pursuit of a second successive play-off place, but Alty, enjoying their first season back at Step 2 after winning the Evo-Stik Premier last season, have nothing to fear.
They lie within the top seven following a run of just one defeat from their last eight matches as Parkinson earned the October manager of the month award.
A fine 3-0 victory of promotion rivals York ensured Altrincham continued their fine form and now Parkinson is setting his sights on continuing the run by completing a hat-trick of wins over the league high-fliers.
“It promises to be an interesting tie,” Parkinson told The NLP. “They’ll be no need to size each other up, or for mind games – we know each other too well for that.
“It will be a very tough tie for both teams. They are top of the league for a reason, because they have been the best team, and we have a lot of catching up to do.
“But we probably hold the psychological edge having have beaten them in the league and knocking them out of the FA Cup.
“If Bradford were my team I would be doing everything to ensure they did not lose a third game and I’m sure that would be in Mark’s thinking.”
Parkinson has already tasted success in the FA Trophy having taken Step 3 Nantwich Town all the way to the semi-finals just two years ago, only to be edged out by FC Halifax Town.
But the success of North Ferriby United, Halifax and current holders Brackley Town in ensuring National League North clubs have won three of the last four FA Trophy finals, has convinced Parkinson that a Wembley final is not such a distant dream.
“At Nantwich we showed that it’s doable,” added the former Reading and Port Vale player.
“The FA Trophy is all about consistency and learning as a group and we are showing good signs of both at the moment.
“We are very ambitious, but we don’t want to give fans false hope.
“We’re not going to get carried away – the first port of call is still making sure we have enough points to stay in this division.
“But we are heading in the right direction and if we can get some success in the league and get a nice little run in the Trophy, then that would constitute a good season.”
Altrincham v Bradford PA
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