Cup clash a welcome distraction

12:38pm Saturday 15th March 2014

By Andrew Simpson

LEE Duckworth says 1874 Northwich are happy to be distracted from a push for promotion to play in the last eight of a knockout competition.

His side host Abbey Hey in the North West Counties League Challenge Cup quarter finals on an afternoon when Division One pacesetters Nelson will widen the gap in the table to Ian Street’s men if they win at Ashton Town.

Not a cause for concern, according to the assistant manager.

“When you’ve reached this stage of cup competition then you want to stay in it,” said Duckworth.

“I was in the Winsford team that won in the final a few seasons back, and it was a great experience.

“It would be great to win a trophy in our first season, particularly as a Division One team, so for us it will be a welcome break from the league after two draining, hard-fought games this week.”

He refers to back-to-back victories at Atherton Collieries, direct rivals to finish in a promotion position, and then at home to back-markers Flixton Villa in midweek.

It moved 1874 Northwich, if only for 24 hours, to within a point of second-placed Formby.

Duckworth was on the pitch, scoring the decisive goal, in Winsford colours for the 2011 final along with current teammates Lee Jones, Michael Brandon and Matthew Ward.

Ryan Stewart joined them as a second half substitute in a 1-0 win against New Mills, while Street watched on from the dugout.

Blues lost in the final the previous season, a game Duckworth also started, against today’s opponents Abbey Hey.

He said: “Abbey Hey did last season what we’re trying to do now, which is to get into the Premier Division.

“We’ve done our homework, and expect them to be hard-working and difficult to beat. They’ll also have enough quality to hurt us if we let them.

“I think we’ll enjoy being the underdogs for a change – it didn’t do us any harm at Squires Gate [in the second round].”

1874 will be without injured Ryan Mitchell (groin), while front man Chris Lunn is ineligible.

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