JASON Bristow wants this to be the season that Basingstoke Town turn around their terrible record in the FA Trophy.
The Camrose club will get their 2012-13 campaign under way with a trip to Hampshire rivals AFC Totton in the third qualifying round on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).
Town have never made it beyond the second round of the FA’s premier non-league competition – but Bristow is hoping to change that this year.
“As a club, we have not done well in the FA Trophy but there is only one division higher than us in the competition, so if the draw is kind, teams at our level can go a long way,” he said. “Wealdstone made the semi-finals last year and the final is at Wembley.
“It is a great competition if you go all the way and it is always good to test yourselves against sides from the league above as well. We have got players in our squad who have won the competition and they know how good it is to go a long way.
“It’s a competition we want to go far in and we really want to win on Saturday. We want to win for the prestige, prize money and for ourselves, to get the winning feeling back.”
That winning feeling is one Basingstoke have experienced all too rarely over the past couple of months. They have failed to win any of their last four games and Bristow is looking for a positive result ahead of a tough-looking run of league games.
“Hopefully we will put on a performance and start a winning run off against Totton,” Bristow said. “We have some tough games coming up and it is going to be a testing few weeks but hopefully we can get something going.”
However, while Town have been struggling, Totton have hit form. They go into Saturday’s game off the back of three successive wins and won 3-0 away at Bashley on Tuesday to move up to eighth in the Southern Premier table.
“It’s going to be tough,” Bristow admitted. “Totton have plenty of attacking options and are good going forward. However, if we perform as we know we can and take our chances then hopefully we will progress.”
Bristow has no intention of resting players for the match but will have to do without defender Ross Adams, who remains on the sidelines with a knee injury, and striker Tim Sills, who is suspended.
Sills’ place looks set to be taken by Stefan Brown, one of two ex-Totton players in the Basingstoke squad.
“Stefan has impressed of late and deserves his chance,” Bristow added. “He took his goal well against Eastbourne and I think he can do the job Tim does.”