Hednesford assess their trophy options

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The Independent Online
It is ironic that Hednesford Town's only scheduled fixture in between Monday's FA Cup third-round success over York City and next weekend's glamorous fourth-round trip to Middlesbrough is in the FA Umbro Trophy - a tournament in which, unlike the FA Cup, the Pitmen have a realistic chance of reaching Wembley.

In contrast to next weekend, when Hednesford will be heading for the Premiership's newest stadium, the Riverside, tomorrow they will be doing battle at the oldest continually used football ground in the world: the Drill Field, the home of Northwich Victoria since 1875.

Despite their FA Cup successes, which has seen them become the first side since Kettering in 1989 to progress from the first qualifying round to the fourth round, the Pitmen are probably the underdogs in tomorrow's first-round Trophy tie, for Northwich, who are having a fine season, are fourth in the GM Vauxhall Conference. Hednesford are ninth, although they have games in hand on all the teams above them.

John Baldwin, the Hednesford manager, has some welcome selection problems for tomorrow's tie. He can call on his latest signing, the former Derby and Leicester striker Phil Gee, who is ineligible for the FA Cup, and the winger Tony Hemmings, who has completed a two-match suspension.

Although Hemmings is a former Northwich player, the Vics have probably seen enough of him. He was the "man of the match" when playing for Macclesfield against Northwich in last season's Trophy final, and scored a superb individual goal to complete Macclesfield's 3-1 win at Wembley.

Carwyn Williams, the striker who scored Northwich's goal in last year's final, will be helping Macclesfield launch their defence of the Trophy tomorrow. Sammy McIlroy's summer signing from the Vics has recovered from an ankle injury and is likely to be in the starting line-up for the holders' daunting tie away to the Conference leaders, Kidderminster Harriers.