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Yellow cup fever as Athletic prepare to face Chorley

Mon 20th February 2017 | Ashton Athletic
By Ian Templeman

On Tuesday night, Ashton Athletic travel to the Lancashire FA’s County Ground at Leyland for the first time in their history to face Chorley of the Vanarama National League North in the Partners Foundation Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy semi-final.

The prize is a place in the final against either Radcliffe Borough or Clitheroe at Bolton Wanderers’ Macron Stadium in March, but to get there the Yellows will have to overcome a Chorley side that has proved to be too strong for a number of our clubs in recent times.

To reach this stage of this season’s competition, the Magpies have seen off Prestwich Heys, Squires Gate and Daisy Hill in previous rounds, and in the past three seasons at the semi-final stage in the same competition, they have beaten AFC Darwen, Holker Old Boys and Colne.

They are also in decent form in the league too this season, with Saturday's 2-1 win over Kidderminster Harriers at Victory Park moving them into fourth place in the table.

But hard fought victories against fellow Hallmark Security League teams Charnock Richard and Atherton LR saw The Yellows progress to this stage of the competition, and the management trio of Dougie Pitts, Ben Kay and Jay Foulds are looking forward to what should be a great occasion for the club.

Dougie Pitts: "It will be a good chance for the players to really show what they are about, against a strong Vanarama North side who are having a great season.

“It will be a strange one for myself as Jamie Vermiglio, the Chorley assistant manager, was best man at my wedding so I know quite a bit about their side having watched them a few times this season, and listened to Jamie on the phone for many hours!!

“In recent years, they have really grown as a club, climbing the leagues and creating a fantastic fan base that turn up each week and that's credit to all their hard work on and off the pitch. They are a strong, hard-working, professional outfit and we will certainly have to be at our very best to compete with them.

“It will be a really good reward for both the players and our hard-working committee to play in front of a decent crowd and be treated to a warm Lancashire FA welcome."

Ben Kay: "Although we currently sit 11th in the league we have been putting quite a bit of pressure on the lads lately to get results, as we feel our current squad is capable of a much higher league position.

“With that said, we go into the game with absolutely no pressure and hope the lads can enjoy the occasion and showcase the talent we believe they have. It's a strange one really, as since we qualified for the semi-final we have lost nearly 50 goals in the shape of forwards Isaac Kusaloka and Adam Gilchrist. So a lot has changed!

“However, we have had some key players return from injury in the form of Luke Holden and Callum Wilson and are confident that the lads will be up for it and we can catch them on an off day."

Jay Foulds: "The lads have put in some excellent performances lately and have really stepped up their level of work in training. We are really looking forward to giving a good account of ourselves but it really does depend on which team turns up on the night!

“We have struggled massively with consistency this season having had some fantastic results and performances to having some not very good ones. It's a good chance for the lads to put to bed our FA Cup performance against Halifax where, although they were a different class both technically and physically, we really didn't do ourselves justice that day and perform how we know the lads can.

“We have a great squad of players who we really believe in, and hopefully Tuesday night can be our night."