BOSS Craig Elliott admits Stockport County may never have heard of Ossett Town before the FA Trophy first-round draw - but hopes his men can leave a lasting impression on the Blue Square Bet Premier side come 3pm on Saturday.
Elliott’s Evo-Stik Division 1 North side are set for one of the biggest matches in the club’s recent history against the Hatters at Edgeley Park.
Town will play in front of their biggest crowd of the season by far, with County attracting crowds of around 3,000 this term, and test themselves against professional opposition plying their trade three steps higher in the football pyramid.
County will be big favourites to book their place in the second round, and continue on the road to the Wembley final, but Elliott says his men have every chance to cause a big upset if they go about their business in the right manner.
“They’d probably never heard of us before the draw,” said the Town boss.
“We’re going to have to respect that they’re a professional outfit on and off the pitch.
“Their fitness is going to play a big part. We’re training on Thursday and we have three or four lads working on night shifts - that’s the difference.
“The first ten or fifteen minutes are going to be crucial. We don’t want to have a nervous energy about us, we need to stick to our game plan and plan our normal game.
“All the pressure is on them. They lost against the bottom of the league in their last match so the longer we hold them out the more frustrated their fans will probably become. We need to hope they become restless, that will suit us.”
As well as £5,000 in FA prize money being on offer, the Stade France side will also get a share of the gate receipts.
It means Town will be hoping for a bumper gate for the tie and Elliott hopes that doesn’t faze his troops.
“We have four or give ex-professionals in our ranks who won’t be fazed by it but we have another four or five who probably haven’t played in front of 100 fans before.
“I just hope those players don’t freeze on the day because if they do things are going to be even tougher for us.”
Town will carry good form into the match with three straight wins in all competitions.
After booking a date with Stockport thanks to a 2-1 win over Workington in the final qualifying round, Elliott’s side bagged an impressive 2-0 league win at Salford City on Saturday, thanks to strikes from Chris Fisher and Grant Darley, and progressed to the last four of the West Riding County Cup on Tuesday night with an extra-time win over Knaresborough Town.
Elliott requested the midweek cup match be brought forward so striker Shane Kelsey could serve a suspension and be available for the FA Trophy tie.
He could have done without the thirty minutes extra-time, however.
“I changed a few players around with Saturday in mind,” he said.
“It backfired a bit because we didn’t want extra-time, but at least we won.
“It’s an important competition because the club hasn’t had much success in recent seasons so we want to do well, to get to the final at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium would be nice”.
Wes Milnes bagged the winner for Town in the 100th minute. Elliott was impressed by the performances of Andrew Catton and recent addition Jimmy Eyles and the pair could be in contention for a start at Edgeley Park.
But Grant Darley is cup-tied and Mark Whitehouse will have a hamstring injury assessed before the match.
Town are running coaches to Edgeley Park leaving the ground at 12pm and priced £10 for adults and £5 under-16s.
Contact James Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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