ONE week from today, Paul Rachubka will face the hottest attack in English football.

The 24-year-old will be in the firing line as Town tackle Premier League champions Chelsea in the FA Cup third round at Stamford Bridge.

It's a case of back to the future for Rachubka, who `grew up' in the top-flight environment with giants Manchester United and then experienced it again following a £200,000 move to Charlton.

You would think the task of stopping Hernan Crespo and Co - thankfully Didier Drogba and Michael Essien look like being absent! - would be enough to occupy anyone's mind, especially as only European champions Liverpool (twice), Manchester United and Real Betis (already 4-0 down in a first leg) have prevented Chelsea from scoring this season.

But Rachubka's focus is far from the bright lights of London as Town enter 2006 with a more important horizon beckoning.

The California-born stopper has already played a significant part in one promotion success for manager Peter Jackson and, two years on, he is desperate to feature in another.

The first four months of the season offered much optimism and plenty of what you'd expect to see from a side heading to the Championship - attacking prowess, capable defence and a pile of points.

The statistics drew remarkable comparison with the 1952-53 and 1969-70 promotion seasons and, in fairness, Town are still very handily placed in the promotion race.

December, however, has hardly been full of festive cheer for supporters, management and players alike, the Cup win at Worcester and subsequent pairing with Chelsea being followed by just three points from a possible 15.

It's a run which has undermined some of the previous confidence and Rachubka - far from worrying about Cup hullabaloo - acknowleges Town need to get back on track quickly.

He's hoping today's match at Barnsley and Monday's Galpharm meeting with Gillingham (3.00) will yield wins which are now overdue and re-ignite a major surge towards automatic promotion.

"We need to get back to winning matches otherwise we are not going to get promoted, it's as simple as that," said Rachubka, whose debut for United came as a substitute in the World Club Championship against South Melbourne in Brazil (a 2-0 win).

"We need once again to start showing teams why we are up at the top of the table and why we've got the record we've got.

"The lads have got us into a great position to challenge and now we've got to kick on and make sure we don't waste what we've already achieved."

Those sentiments will be echoed throughout the squad and among the occupants of every seat row number in the Galpharm.

Wednesday's dismal 3-0 home drubbing by Port Vale brought frustrations to a head with Town faltering since those disastrous closing minutes at MK Dons.

"At Rotherham we were poor in the first half and not only let ourselves down but all the fans who travelled to give us such fantastic support," explained Rachubka.

"We showed a lot of patience and kept going to pick up a point at the end with Taylor-Fletcher's equaliser, but we need to play better than that to push us on to the next level from this great position we are in.

"You have to give credit to Rotherham because they came out fighting, but that's how we should have been.

"We have to set the pace ourselves and not let anyone else dictate to us.

"On Wednesday, the whole dressing room was flat because we knew we had a great chance to go top of the table and we didn't take it.

"It was really disappointing because, after struggling in the previous few games, we set our stall out to take control, did exactly that and then didn't take our chances. It meant we failed to beat a team who were there to be beaten.

"In this League, if you get the first goal you are always going to be favourites. If you don't, you've got a fight on your hands and that's exactly how it turned out against Port Vale.

"We haven't got the first goal in the last handful of matches and, because of that, we are making life very difficult for ourselves.

"Personally, though, the Port Vale result is something we can't do anything about any more.

"We have to forget about it and get back to working on the training ground on all the things you go through to make sure you're right for the next game.

"The only way you can make a result like that feel any better is by winning the next game."