MATT Cooper says Skelmersdale will provide formidable opposition for Witton in the FA Trophy this weekend.

Albion will need to at their best to progress against guests who have won a dozen of 14 matches played to date this term, prompting their shot-stopper to predict a close encounter tomorrow, Saturday.

“Short of playing a team from our division it’s the hardest draw we could have had,” he said.

“It’s never easy against them, and both games last season were tight.  I expect it to be the same again this time.”

Skelmersdale were the last team to beat Witton in their promotion-winning campaign, leaving Wincham with maximum points in February.

Witton did not lose again until September.

Striker Shaun Tuck has swapped Lancashire for Northwich since then, and will  likely lead Albion’s attack in tandem with top scorer Ashley Stott in tomorrow’s second qualifying round clash.

Cooper said: “The FA Trophy ranks pretty high on our list of priorities.

“It’s nice to have a good cup run, as we did last year, as it helps the club in terms of its profile and also financially.

“It’s not a competition I’ve had much success in either, reaching the third qualifying round last season is probably the best a team I’ve been part of in has done.”

Cooper, 23, concedes what Witton will be favourites to beat lower-ranked opponents, particularly on their own pitch.

Not since a defeat against Workington in 1996 have Albion taken a tumble from the competition against a side from a division below.

He added: “I don’t think it affects us that they are from a lower level.

“We’ll try not to worry about that, instead focusing on winning the game.

“The teams will be evenly-matched because they’re a good side in form, so we’ll go into it knowing what we need to do in order to get through.”

To read a preview of tomorrow's tie, click here: