Runcorn Town's 2017/18 season campaign kicks off on Saturday as AFC Darwen visit Pavilions in the Extra Preliminary Round of the Emirates FA Cup. We look ahead to this game with our match preview.
About AFC Darwen
The original Darwen were one of the leading sides in England and an early pioneer of professional football. They spend nine seasons in the Football League including two seasons in the top flight of English Football, and also reached the FA Cup Semi Final in 1880/81, losing to eventual winners Old Carthusians. They then joined the Lancashire League in 1900, before becoming founder members of the North West Counties Football League in 1982.
Darwen were eventually wound up in 2009, with AFC Darwen founded soon after. They played in the West Lancashire League in their first season before joining the North West Counties Football League the following year. They spent five seasons in the First Division before becoming the first winners of the First Division Play-Offs in 2014/15. The last two seaons has seen them finish in 18th place in the Premier Division.
We have met seven times previously, six in the league and once in the NWCFL League Cup. Town hold the upper hand with five meetings, with one game ending in a draw. Last season saw Town complete the double over Darwen, winning 3-1 at Pavilions and 3-0 at the Anchor Ground.
Did You Know?
This is only AFC Darwen's third FA Cup campaign, and they have yet to win a match in the competition. They lost to Northern League side Washington 2-1 two years ago, and last season were beaten by Cammell Laird 1907 after a replay, losing 3-2 at Kirklands after a 3-3 draw in the first game.
Four to watch
Midfielder Alex Ralph is a former winger at Clitheroe, Padiham and Barnoldswick, before moving to Darwen towards the start of last season, whilst Jamie Edwards is a hot prospect at the club having come through from the reserve side last season.
Striker Nick Hepple finished as leading goalscorer for AFC Darwen last term with eleven goals and is always a threat up front, whilst Karl Turner is an AFC Darwen legend and weighed in with five goals last term.
Chris Herbert's thoughts
"AFC Darwen are going to be a much stronger opposition to us than last season and it's not going to be plain sailing. The first game of the season is tough because no one knows too much about each other, so the lads on the pitch will need to figure a lot out when they are out there on the pitch.
"We need to be able to mix things up in the right way. In cup games a lot of stuff you have worked on goes out of the window, and it's not always about performance but just about getting your name in the hat for the next round no matter what.
"It would be great to have a good run in the FA Cup, it's great for everyone at the club, but Darwen will be saying the exact same things as us.
"Mark Patterson is an experienced coach who has good contacts in the game, and knows how the game should be played. He has been a top player in his day. So as a team they will be organised and he will have a good quality team to play against us as they want to get through to the next round as much as we do.
"On Saturday it will be about who wants it more and our lads have to be prepared to win the battle first, if they do that then the quality will take care of itself."
"From the players and management, we want the fans to be as vocal and loyal as they were last season home and away. It's huge for us all to see the fans following us and pushing the lads that extra bit on the pitch. We want you all to be proud of the players we have in the squad and our aim is to give you performances to be proud of as fans of Runcorn Town Football Club.
"I hope to see everyone at Pavilions on Saturday afternoon. We are all in this together...!"
Kick off on Saturday is at 3.00pm. Admission is just £6.00 for Adults, £3.00 for Over 65's and £1.00 for Under 16's.
As it is an FA Cup game, season tickets are not permitted, and no alcohol will be allowed inside the ground.