AFC EMLEY will be hoping to beat the freeze as they travel to Barnoldswick Town in the FA Vase third Round tomorrow (3pm).
The match is a venture into the unknown for Emley, who have never played Barnoldswick and never reached this level of the competition before.
For “Barlick” it is also the first time in the third round, but they go into the game as favourites playing a league above Emley in the North West Counties League where they currently occupy a sixth place.
Emley are a level below in the pyramid in the Northern Counties East League Division I and are the only representatives from the division still in the competition.
Emley made it through the qualifying stages with an extra time win at NCEL Premier side Maltby, followed by a superb 1-0 victory over Congleton, who led the NWCL Premier at that stage.
A stirring fightback three weeks ago against Bottesford saw them clinch a late winner to progress to the third round.
Emley’s form going into the game is strong with one draw and five wins from their last six games, including a 7-0 win over Selby Town and an 8-1 away win at Yorkshire Amateur.
Both victories were inspired by striker Ashley Flynn (right), who scored four goals in each game to propel him to the top of the NCEL Division One goalscorers charts.
But Barlick are in good form themselves, and despite struggling with injuries this season, come into the game on the back of a run that has seen them lose just one of their last five games.
However, joint manager Ben Hall says that they will not be underestimating their opponents.
“We are all looking forward to the game, although it will be an extremely difficult match against a side who are doing well in their league,” he said.
“With our game being off last Saturday, we watched them at the weekend in their game against Louth Town, and we know that we are going to have to be at our best to progress.”
Emley manager Darren Hepworth has faith in his squad’s ability to spring another surprise victory:
“The Vase run is important financially but also for the experience,” said Hepworth. “I have a very young squad – the average age is 23 – so this is all helping them become better players which is what this club is all about.
“Of course the one exception in terms of age is Paul Sykes who has been a fantastic signing – particularly his leadership on and off the field.”
Hepworth is waiting on the fitness of just one player in his squad as Matt Thornton is struggling to shake off an ankle injury.
Fellow defender Josh Cooke is cup tied having represented Albion Sports.
AFC EMLEY (from): Herriott, Cyrus, Sykes, Kenworthy, Leech, Thornton, Schofield, Joseph, Jordan, Riley, Ingham, Maturine, McIntosh, Haigh, Flynn
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