ASHTON Athletic aim to match a club record by reaching the FA Cup’s third qualifying round when they arrive at York City tomorrow.

The North West Counties League premier division’s bottom club managed to progress to that stage last season following victories over Squires Gate, Runcon Linnets, Bamber Bridge and Albion Sports.

Athletic’s run then ended with a narrow 1-0 home defeat to current National League North table-toppers Chorley in front of a capacity, club-record crowd of 610 at their Brocstedes Park stadium, which seats 100 people.

This term, meanwhile, the Wigan-based team have defied a miserable record of just one point from a possible 18 in the league to knock out AFC Liverpool before seeing off higher-division outfits Skelmersdale United and Morpeth Town.

The team’s Cup form over the past two seasons has been eye-catching for a club founded in 1968 as a Wigan Sunday League side.

Having switched to Saturday football, Athletic continued to ply their trade locally - aside from four seasons during the 1980s at North West Counties League level - in the Warrington & District League, Lancashire Combination and the Manchester League until 2006 when they gained admission back into the NWCL from the latter.

Often confused with National League North pair Ashton United and Curzon Ashton, Athletic don’t play in Ashton-under-Lyne, but 32 miles west in Ashton-in-Makerfield, whose biggest claim to fame is arguably that it was where Coronation Street actress and former Hear’Say singer Kym Marsh grew up.

On the pitch, midfielder Alex Marrow is the club’s most notable former player, going on to play in the Championship for Blackburn and Crystal Palace, as well as enjoying spells at Oldham, Preston, Fleetwood and Carlisle.

Nicknamed the Yellows, Ashton’s Cup run started when Joseph Nicholson and Gary Burnett goals secured a 2-2 draw against NWCL division one north team AFC Liverpool in the extra-preliminary round.

The Merseysiders were then seen off 4-1 in the replay, thanks to second-half efforts from Joshua Nicholson, Matthew Reid, an own goal and Kristian Bell .

Late goals by Adam Howard and Christopher Bandell on 82 and 86 minutes respectively went on to defeat Evo-Stik Northern Premier League division one west side Skelmersdale 2-1 at home in the preliminary round.

In the first qualifying round, ex-Shrewsbury Town apprentice George Hassall’s 49th-minute effort then saw honours end even with Northern Premier League division one east outfit Morpeth, before Jay Foulds’ men secured a 2-1 away triumph in the replay thanks to Marcus Cusani and Bandell goals.

In the league, meanwhile, Cusani netted during a 1-1 opening-day draw at Whitchurch Alport, but the team haven’t hit the target since during defeats to Congleton Town (0-3), Silsden (0-2), Squires Gate (0-1), Runcorn Town (0-1) and City of Liverpool (0-4).

Athletic were also dumped out of the FA Vase 5-1 by Maltby Main at the first qualifying round stage, but Foulds has a full squad to choose from having been without several holidaying players during the opening weeks of the campaign.

Cusani, Bandell and Josh Nicholson are this season’s leading marksmen with two goals apiece.