Barnsley will look to use the FA Cup as the catalyst for an improvement in form when they travel to Altrincham this weekend.
In what is a first ever meeting between the two Clubs, the Reds will look to end their five match losing streak in all competitions, with their last win coming back in mid-October against Bradford in the Football League Trophy.
That success was also the Tykes most recent away triumph from Oakwell but with the Reds aiming to reach the third round, at least, again this term, they will look to end their disappointing run on Saturday.
Hosts Altrincham meanwhile, are currently on a four match unbeaten run including three draws in the National League and an FA Cup qualifying victory against Chester.
Those trio of draws leaves Alty sitting in 19th place in the league and four points above relegation but with the Greater Manchester-based Club losing just two of their last 10 home games they will prove strong opposition for the Reds at the J. Davidson Stadium despite the 45 league places between them.
Head coach Lee Johnson is likely to name a strong side for the trip to Altrincham this weekend as the Reds target a return to winning ways.
That will see goalkeeper Adam Davies remain between the sticks, while Sam Winnall is likely to lead the attack for Barnsley once again.
Both Marley Watkins and Conor Hourihane are facing a race against time to be fit for the trip to Greater Manchester, with Irishman Hourihane further ahead in his recovery from a hamstring problem.
One man who will not be involved however is Ryan Williams who remains side lined with a groin injury, while the Club will have to wait to discover whether or not on-loan winger Lloyd Isgrove can feature under the terms of his loan switch from Southampton.
Altrincham will be hoping to start with joint top goal scorers George Bowerman and Michael Rankine for the visit of Barnsley, with the latter absent for last Saturday’s home draw against Torquay.
Last season’s 18-goal man Damian Reeves should also start as Alty look to cause an upset at the J. Davidson stadium, while former Liverpool youngster Ryan Crowther will provide the support from out wide.
Man in the Middle
Barnsley will meet referee Andy Haines for an eighth time this weekend, with the Reds enjoying a mixed set of results with the official in the past.
The most recent of those meetings came in December 2013 when the Reds went down to a 1-0 home defeat against Bolton which was a third defeat in Haines’ company; with two draws and two wins also coming the Club’s way when Haines has been at the helm.
Barnsley’s first success came in August 2009 when they edged Lincoln 1-0 in the League Cup but they had to wait nearly four years for their next triumph with Haines in charge and that came at home to Peterborough in March 2012.
The Tyne & Wear-based referee is yet to take charge of an Altrincham game in his career but he has overseen 11 games so far this term, dishing out 33 yellow cards and two reds.
The first of those was brandished to Oldham striker Jonathan Forte back in early September, while a month later and he dismissed Wigan defender Craig Morgan 69 minutes into their goalless draw at home to Walsall.
Their Star Man
In June Altrincham bolstered their strike force with the signing of former Scunthorpe, York and Aldershot forward Michael Rankine. The 30-year-old – who spent last season with fellow National League side Gateshead – made his Alty debut in a 1-0 defeat at home to Forest Green Rovers, which saw him partnered with last season’s star man Damian Reeves in attack for the first time.
With ex-Walsall and Accrington Stanley man George Bowerman also joining the Greater Manchester outfit this summer they had an abundance of attacking quality but following three defeats in Rankine’s first three outings things appeared to be going downhill quickly.
That ended with a 2-1 home win against Grimsby in their next game but Rankine had to wait until his sixth appearance to notch for Alty, but it was an important one, as the Doncaster Rovers youth product bagged the winner in a 2-1 success against Tranmere Rovers. Rankine struck again in a 3-1 loss at Wrexham in mid-September and despite then going three matches without a goal he has returned to fine form in recent weeks.
The Yorkshireman hit the winner from the spot as Alty edged Boreham Wood 1-0 in the National League in late September, before he struck in back-to-back 2-2 draws against Kidderminster and then former employers Gateshead to take his tally up to five. That outing was his most recent for the Club; having missed their 1-1 draw against Torquay last weekend, and with a strong partnership being built with fellow new arrival Bowerman the Barnsley defence will be hoping Rankine is absent once again this weekend.
After progressing through the youth ranks at local Club Stoke City, Ryan Shotton signed his first professional contract with the Potters in 2007.
On the back of that deal the versatile defender joined Saturday’s hosts Altrincham on loan for the 2007-08 season at the age of 18.
In what was an extremely successful first full campaign as a professional footballer for Shotton, he made 36 starts and scored five goals at the formerly named Moss Lane including a double against Salisbury in a 3-1 Alty success.
Following that switch, Shotton spent the 2008-09 season on loan at League One side Tranmere where he notched six times in 40 outings. With his experience building, Stoke searched for a third consecutive loan Club for their promising defender and in September 2009 Shotton joined Barnsley in the Championship.
Despite failing to score for the Reds and picking up two red cards during his time at Oakwell, the current Derby County man became a regular for the Tykes; making 32 appearances as Barnsley finished 18th and survived relegation by seven points. Shotton proved to be a vital asset for Mark Robins’ side as he helped the Reds secure 11 victories and keep eight clean sheets in what turned out to be a solid campaign in South Yorkshire.
Upon his return to the Britannia Stadium, Shotton enjoyed several seasons in and around the first team at Stoke but after further loan moves to Wigan and then Derby, he joined the latter on a permanent basis in January.
Altrincham’s last five at home: (WLDWD)
Altrincham 1-0 Barrow
Altrincham 1-3 Halifax Town
Altrincham 2-2 Kidderminster Harriers
Altrincham 1-0 Chester (Cup)
Altrincham 1-1 Torquay United
Barnsley’s last five away from home: (LWLLL)
Doncaster Rovers 2-1 Barnsley
Bradford City 1-2 Barnsley (Cup)
Southend United 2-1 Barnsley
Scunthorpe United 2-0 Barnsley
Coventry City 4-3 Barnsley
Going to the match?
Altrincham plays at the J.Davidson Stadium, its address is as follows:
The J. Davidson Stadium
How to get there
From the SOUTH (M6)
Leave M6 motorway at junction 19 (Manchester and Airport sign). Join A556 and follow Airport signs to M56. Do NOT take the M56 but carry straight on at roundabout on A56. At first traffic lights (one mile) turn right for Bowdon/Hale (B5161). Carry on for 1 mile, passing The Quality Hotel on the right. Go through the traffic lights, then right at the mini roundabout into Hale Road (avoiding town centre). Carry on for approximately one mile, turning left into Westminster Road (opposite cemetery entrance). Carry straight on for approximately 3/4 mile into Moss Lane, the football ground is on the right.
From the NORTH (M6)
Leave M6 motorway at junction 20 to join M56. Leave M56 at junction seven and at roundabout take A56 for Altrincham. At first traffic lights (one mile) turn right for Bowdon/Hale (B5161). Carry on for one mile, passing The Quality Hotel on the right. Go through the traffic lights, then right at the mini roundabout into Hale Road (avoiding town centre). Carry on for approximately one mile, turning left into Westminster Road (opposite cemetery entrance).
Carry straight on for approximately 3/4 mile into Moss Lane, the football ground is on the right.
From the EAST (M62)
At junction 18 of the M62 the motorway changes its name to the M60. After passing Birch Service Station get into the inside lane.
Follow the sign which reads M60 (East and South), Manchester and Airport. Follow the left filter lane to join the M60 motorway travelling in a clockwise direction. Continue to follow signs for Manchester Airport and at junction three of the M60 get into the inside two lanes and leave the M60 to join the M56.
At junction two of the M56 do not follow the Altrincham sign but remain on the M56 following signs for the Airport. Do not leave the M56 at Manchester Airport but continue until junction six. Leave the M56 at junction six signposted A538 Wilmslow, Hale, Macclesfield. At the end of the slip road turn left at the traffic lights sign posted Hale, Altrincham A538.
Go straight across at the next roundabout. After approximately two miles approach a set of traffic lights – carry straight on and take the third turning on the right into Westminster Road. Carry straight on for approximately 3/4 mile into Moss Lane, the football ground is on the right.
From the WEST (M62)
Leave the M62 at Junction 10 and join the M6 travelling in a southerly direction. Then follow the directions as from the North as above.
Please also note that there is no public parking at the ground itself. However, from January 2015 Altrincham Football Club have had an agreement with Aecom on Moss Lane (formerly Riley's Snooker Hall) over the use of their car park. As a result, Altrincham Football club has use of Aecom's car park on Tuesday nights and Saturday afternoons when a game is being played at the J. Davidson Stadium. We urge supporters to use the car park and thus alleviate the parking problems around the ground and surrounding roads. The car park will be open on Saturdays from 10.30am and will be locked at 7pm and on Tuesdays will be open until 11pm. There is no charge for users of the car park.
The address and post code of Aecom is 179 Moss Lane, Altrincham WA14 8FH.
Otherwise, on-street parking is permitted except where indicated by yellow lines or traffic cones.
By Public Transport:
Altrincham Interchange, in the town centre, is served by buses from Manchester Piccadilly bus station; Arriva service 263, and Stagecoach's X41, (the latter is a much slower and less regular service). The Transport for Greater Manchester bus timetable library provides the times of these services. The Metrolink tram system terminates at Altrincham and can be caught in Manchester City centre as well as at Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria stations.
Be sure to get a tram whose destination is Altrincham as several other routes operate to other towns. Tickets for Metrolink have to be bought from machines prior to making your journey. The bus is cheaper.
Buses from Piccadilly typically take 45 minutes to Altrincham but allow longer in the rush hour. Metrolink takes about 30 minutes and is unpredictable as there is no published timetable.
Altrincham FC is about 10-12 minute walk from Altrincham Interchange. The Interchange is a terminus for buses, trains and the Metrolink tram system. You can exit the railway/tram station on two sides. The town centre side has a forecourt in which is located a distinctive clock tower; the rear station exit is into a car park.
Exiting from town centre side: With the clock tower in front of you and the station behind you, turn left into Stamford New Road (the Railway Hotel is on the far side) and take the first left (Moss Lane). Go over the railway bridge and pass a large Tesco hypermarket to your right. At the road junction at Tesco's (traffic-light controlled) go straight on up Moss Lane. Walk for about 8 minutes, passing a park on your right and crossing a mini-roundabout, till you reach the ground on your left.
Exiting from rear of the rail/tram station: If you have arrived by tram you can use the station footbridge to arrive at the rear exit. From here go forward 100 yards or so and turn right onto Oakfield Road. At the first set of traffic lights, turn left onto Moss Lane. Walk for about eight minutes, passing a park on your right and crossing a mini-roundabout, till you reach the ground on your left.