THE WITTON COLUMN - Looking ahead, with Paul Harper

WITTON Albion are up for the cup once again this weekend as we embark on the latest round of our Emirates FA Cup journey.

It’s another away tie for Carl Macauley’s side, but not quite as far to travel this time around.

After a long trip to the North East in the first qualifying round of the competition, Albion defeated Northern League opponents Seaham Red Star 1-0 courtesy of an excellent strike by midfielder Billy Smart.

On Saturday, the lads are back on the road, this time travelling to Derbyshire to take on Northern Premier League South East Division side Belper Town.

Despite being a step down from ourselves, in terms of league status, this will be another tough test and one we’ll need to perform well in if we’re to come away with another victory and make it through to the next round.

In the last round, Seaham, who are two divisions below Albion in the pyramid, gave us a very tough game but we did well to get ourselves in front and hold on to our advantage with a strong display.

Matches against teams from a lower level are always very tricky. Expectations are that you should win those games, but the lower ranked teams always step up their game and want to cause an upset.

When the boot has been on the other foot, we know, from the recent past, that upsets can happen as we showed when we beat FC United of Manchester and Spennymoor Town in last season’s competition.

The management team and players will know this more than anyone, and I’m sure we’ll be well prepared for the challenges that await us at Belper at the weekend.

It seems like we’ve spent most of the season on our travels so far! We’ve had more than our fair share of away fixtures since the season got underway a month or so ago, that’s for sure!

But in the next few weeks, we have lots of home games coming up. Swings and roundabouts, I guess!

It’s been a strong start to the season by Albion. Despite losing a few key players in the summer, and a few more to injury, the management team have built another competitive squad this season.

We’ve played some excellent football and picked up some impressive results so far this term, including a 2-0 home win over Hyde United who are among the early leaders in the division.

As I said, there are plenty of home fixtures coming up, so it would be great to see as many of you as possible at Wincham Park.

We can guarantee you a warm welcome, not to mention a delicious hot pie and peas to help keep out the cold!