JOHN COLEMAN has fulfilled a number of dreams with Accrington Stanley - but taking them to the FA Trophy final is one he is desperate to turn into a reality.
Stanley kick off their FA Trophy campaign on Saturday in the third round against Conference rivals Hereford.
It is a huge game for the Reds as they begin their quest to reach the final which will be held at Villa Park on Sunday 22 May.
"We never seem to have had a run in the Trophy while I have been at Accrington," said the boss, whose side lost to Burton Albion at this stage of the FA Trophy last year.
"As a player I have made the Trophy quarter-finals with Morecambe - we lost to Guiseley who Lutel James was playing for at the time.
"And in my first year as manager of Ashton I reached the quarter-finals again but we lost to a last minute goal against Dagenham.
"I have grown up with this competition, playing since I was 18. I never reached the final as a player so it is something I would like to achieve as a manager.
"The Conference teams are like the Premiership in the FA Cup in this competition and are expected to do well.
"It didn't happen last year but if we can knock out one of the top teams like Hereford then we have just as much chance as anyone.
"Hereford are a dangerous side but both sides will want to win it on the day so it should be a good game."
Coleman, whose side will get £4,000 if they win on Saturday, is hoping the supporters will turn up at the Interlink in their numbers if Stanley get a run in the Trophy, especially now they have boosted their play-off bid.
The Reds have taken seven points from their last three league games and are currently fourth in the Conference table.
They are on the up - and Coleman is hoping, after an inconsistent first half of the season, that more fans will come and shout them to success.
"The support has been great this season - we have the regulars - but we do need to attract a new influx of fans," said the Reds chief.
"It is disappointing that the attendances are slightly down on last year - I know it is happening all over football - but I think this year we are offering a better product.
"I know we had the novelty of it being our first season in the Conference last season but it is frustrating that the crowds haven't gone up. But if we can maintain our push for the play-offs then hopefully it will happen.
"We want to be in a position to strengthen the squad if necessary and to do this we need to have the money coming in from the terraces.
"It is like a vicious circle - if we get better crowds we can attract the better players, if necessary."
Coleman isn't worried that he has cut his squad down following the departures of Damien Hindle and Shaun Tuck to Hyde and Marine respectively.
"We have 16 outfield players and three goalkeepers and, at the moment, a clean bill of health. It doesn't really bother me but if we have to, we will do something about it."
One boost for him is that goalkeeper Jon Kennedy played the last seven minutes in Stanley's 5-2 victory over Atherton LR in the Lancashire Marsden Trophy on Tuesday night.
Kennedy, who broke his leg in early October in a freak training ground accident where he lost his footing and landed awkwardly, admitted it was a relief to get out there.
"It was strange really as I hadn't been involved for so long but it was good to get on," said the keeper.
"It was a worry kicking the ball as the ground was quite slippy but once I had done it, I was quite happy. And I made a save late on although I felt I should have held on to it.
"But hopefully I will get 90 minutes under my belt in the reserve game tonight and then I will be ready to come back. For a goalkeeper, it is not a matter of match fitness, but positioning and keeping your concentration so I am hoping I will be back challenging for a first team place for the Tamworth game, a week on Saturday."
Paul Crichton is currently the number one choice, he has a contract until the end of the season but does travel from Norwich every week, while Danny Alcock played most of the Atherton game. "When Jon is fit we will have to look at the situation," said Coleman.
Defender Jonathan Smith sits out the last game of his three match suspension - even though he was also forced to miss the Lancashire Trophy game - while left back Chris Butler is expected to be fit for Saturday.
Steve Halford, Steve Flitcroft and Paul Cook, on the bench last Saturday, all played the full 90 minutes on Tuesday. Andy Procter hurt his ribs and came off early against Atherton but is expected to recover.
- STANLEY reserves are at Great Harwood on Friday (ko 7.30pm) against Altrincham.