5:12pm Friday 13th December 2013
By Andrew Simpson
BRIAN Pritchard has called on county bosses to consider changing their competition rules after Witton Albion were reinstated in the Cheshire FA Senior Cup following the expulsion of a rival.
Stockport County, victors when they hosted the Northwich outfit in the preliminary round last month, were kicked out as punishment for picking an ineligible player.
Forward Liam Dickinson, who supplied a pass for Kristian Dennis to score the winning goal at Edgeley Park, had been registered after a after a signings deadline for the tie.
“We take no pleasure from going through this way,” said Pritchard.
“Remember we were in a similar situation last season, so know both how it feels and how easy it is to make a mistake.”
The game was scheduled originally for Tuesday, November 5 but was postponed twice because Witton and then Stockport, from Skrill North, had to fit in fixtures in the FA Trophy.
Rules for the competition say players must be registered by noon the previous Friday – in this case November 1.
However Dickinson’s return to County was not ratified by the Football Conference until the following week.
“It was a genuine error, and we accept the punishment from the FA,” read a statement issued by the club.
Pritchard told the Guardian he could not pick the team he wanted because of the regulations.
New recruits Adam Parkhouse, on loan from Stockport’s league rivals Stalybridge Celtic, and midfielder Josh Crofts were both unavailable despite the match taking place three weeks later than planned.
He said: “The game was moved through no fault of either club, so it seems unfair we couldn’t choose the starting line-ups we wanted.
“[Stockport boss] Alan [Lord] was in the same position.
“I have no problem with their being a deadline, but could it not be more flexible to take account of ties being rearranged? Friday before the tie seems reasonable, though I'd like to see the signings cut-off move too if the game is put back."
Witton will now travel to Stalybridge – their opponents in the final when Albion last lifted the trophy in 2006 – in the first round on Tuesday, January 14, kick off 7.45pm.
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