By James Reid
Tamworth boss Andy Peaks admits his side’s FA Trophy clash with Hungerford Town will be a welcome distraction from the pressures of chasing promotion.
The Lambs are currently flying high in the Pitching In Southern League Premier Central and targeting a return to the second tier of non-league football for the first time since 2018.
But they haven’t let their promotion ambitions get in the way of a cup run, two decades on from their last visit to the FA Trophy final.
Peaks, whose side take on Hungerford in the fourth round on Saturday, said: “It’s a big competition – I’ve always wanted to do well in the Trophy as a player and a manager, to get this far has been great, it’s exciting times.
“At the start of the season the league was the priority, but it was always the plan to have a bit of a run in the FA Cup or the FA Trophy.
“It generates a lot of interest and puts the club in the public eye which is great. It’s great for the players, great for the club.
“Confidence is a massive thing in football and the more games you win, the more the confidence grows.
“The fact we’ve done well in the league has made the cup a really nice distraction. It’s like a pressure free game each time because the main priority is the league.
“It’s nice to go through a few rounds, generate a bit of cash for the club and interest for the players – it’s an added bonus.”
Peaks’ Lambs face National League South strugglers Hungerford, having already beaten Boston United and Leamington from the equivalent National League North.
The Crusaders’ fortunes could not be more different to their opponents, with the Berkshire outfit rooted to the bottom of the sixth tier and Tamworth challenging for promotion at the top of the seventh.
Despite the contrast in form, Peaks is under no illusions that a difficult task still awaits but admits his players are relishing another chance to test themselves at a level they hope to play at regularly next term.
“I expect a tough game,” added Peaks, who took the helm at Lamb Meadow after a successful stint at AFC Rushden & Diamonds.
“We’ll have to be at our best for the season but if we can maintain the standards, we have this season we’ll certainly give a good account of ourselves.
“Although they’ve struggled, they don’t concede a lot of goals and they are a league up for a reason.
“For us, albeit they’re struggling in their league, they’re still the favourites so it’s a no brainer for us to go and give it our best shot.
“To play teams in the league above is a good yardstick as to where we’re at. That’ll be the same next week.”
It is almost 20 years since the Lambs made it all the way to the final only to fall at the final hurdle, losing 2-1 to Burscough at Villa Park in 2003.
Though Peaks revealed there are always thoughts of making it to Wembley, he and his players are simply intent on enjoying the ride, however far it takes them.
He said: “You go into every game wanting to do as well as you can because someone is going to be playing at Wembley come May at our level or a few leagues higher.
“We’re still a long way away and you’ve got to enjoy it and see how far it can take you.
“We’ll prepare as we do with training and travel, and then put a big shift in on Saturday.”
Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain, has launched a multi-million-pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports. For more details see: https://entaingroup.com/sustainability/pitching-in/