MATTHEW Woolley believes Paul Stockton’s death has brought the players at 1874 Northwich closer as they prepare to resume their FA Vase campaign this weekend.

They host Chichester City in the last 16 at Wincham Park on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.

A victory at the previous stage last month was dedicated to the late chairman, who died shortly after Christmas.

“It feels different, of course,” said the captain.

“He was the sort of guy that makes a player feel important, no matter how long they’ve been here.

“In fact, it’s noticeable how some of the new lads have talked about him and the way he made it easier for them to settle in.

“The dressing room is more united, and I considered it already to be a close-knit group so that’s a powerful thing.

“We definitely felt the ‘For Paul’ sentiment in the last round, particularly because it was so soon after he’d passed away and also because we knew his family were watching.

“I’m not sure it’s fair to say we’re more determined because that desire to be successful this season has always been there.

“However the support he showed to us as people and players is something we’d like to repay if we can.”

They prepared in the best possible way, extending a winning sequence in the North West Counties League to eight matches with a 2-0 defeat of Northwich Victoria on Tuesday night.

They rise to ninth in the Premier Division table as a result.

A return to neutral territory this weekend, when they have hired Witton Albion’s ground again, has happy memories too.

Woolley said: “We had our biggest ever crowd behind us last time, and the fans helped to create an atmosphere that definitely lifted us.

“It perhaps took us a little while to adjust in unfamiliar surroundings, although none of that applies on Saturday and we can focus fully on the game itself.

“The lads haven’t talked much about it, save for the day of the draw, and even then it was to ask where Chichester was!

“When they found out, I think they were just relieved we’re not going down there.

“They’ll be an unknown quantity to us, as we will be for them, but we can be sure that no team makes it to this round if they’re no good.”

He said having the likes of goalkeeper Greg Hall and attacker Sam Hind in the squad, both of whom have played at Wembley in the FA Vase final for Glossop North End, has helped stop minds from wandering.

Woolley added: “They’ve made it known just how much work we still have to do yet, and I think the lads acknowledge that.

“For now, we just want to get the job done on Saturday.”