Matlock Town will be hoping to produce another cup shock in arguably their biggest game in the last three years when they travel to Conference National Eastleigh in the last 32 of the Buildbase FA Trophy on Saturday.
While wins are hard to come by in the league at present, the Gladiators have found their form in the FA Trophy having beaten Carlton Town, Ashton United and Redditch United before they faced another Conference National outfit in Chorley in the last round.
Having had a 2-0 lead cancelled out at the Proctor Cars Stadium, Matlock produced a superb performance to knock the Magpies out in their own back yard, winning a penalty shoot out to earn their long trip to the South Coast.
The Gladiators are certainly adopting a professional approach ahead of this weekend’s tie. Manager Steve Kittrick was in the crowd at Hartlepool as the Spitfires lost their league game 2-1 on Tuesday night.
The Matlock squad will make the coach journey south on Friday afternoon and will stay overnight in Winchester, before completing their journey with a short trip down the M3 on Saturday lunchtime.
“The club’s doing everything exactly right, they couldn’t do anything more for us, the club’s been extremely professionally,” said Kittrick.
On Saturday’s opponents, he added that Matlock have to be organised and repeat their performance at Chorley.
“Eastleigh are a good, structured Conference National side with a lot of good quality players. We’ve got to go there and be organised and have a go.
“We’ll go there with our game plan and see where it takes us. We’ll need to show the same attitude and determination we had at Chorley which is what I’ll expect.”
Both sides go into the game in disappointing league form. Matlock have lost their last three matches while Eastleigh have picked up just one point from games at Boreham Wood, Aldershot Town and Hartlepool.
A missed penalty proved costly as Matlock slumped to a third league defeat in a row, losing 1-0 against visiting Basford United on Saturday.
A Matt Thornhill strike shortly before half time clinched the win, but Spencer Harris missed a penalty early in the second period for Matlock.
“The league results are not in our favour at present, said boss Steve Kittrick.
“Sometimes you have to make your own luck and had the penalty gone in we’d have been looking at a point and maybe would have gone on to get all three.
“It was a better performance on Saturday when we were the better team against a side fourth in the league.
“A break from the league on Saturday may do us good, we need to take the second half performance from last weekend into the game at Eastleigh.
“Goals change games, we didn’t score the penalty and we should have closed James Reid down better for the pass that made their goal.”
Kittrick maintains it is important that everyone sticks together despite the poor run of league results.
“Results have gone against us but it’s fine margins, generally we’re losing by the odd goal,” he said.
“I’d be really worried if we were getting hammered all of the time. We need everyone to stick with us, we’re all very aware as a group where we are in the league.
“The players read the social media and it gets to them and their confidence. We’ve got good players here and good players don’t become bad players overnight.”
Matlock will be without winger Sam Scrivens at Eastleigh.
Scrivens is cup-tied, having made a substitute appearance for Guiseley earlier in the competition when they went down 4-0 at home to AFC Telford.
But Jack Rea came on as a substitute last weekend after injury and Kittrick is hopeful that Dwayne Wiley will join Rea in the squad following his hamstring problem.