By Marc Higginson
WHEN Radcliffe Borough line-up against FC United in the final of the Presidents Cup tonight they will have at least one man in their team who is used to winning trophies.
Boro's influential midfielder Lee Connell was the captain and driving force of the Prestwich Heys team that won three Manchester Premier League titles in a row, while also lifting the Goldline Trophy last year.
The former Bury star, who is expected to shake off injury to return to the team tonight, scored for Heys in the Goldline Final at the Reebok before converting a penalty in the decisive shootout.
So it is not surprising Connell is looking to draw on those experiences when he strides out at Curzon Ashton's Tameside Stadium.
"I love to think I am a big-game player," said the 26-year-old. "The big games are where you test yourself, and you seem to get an extra 10 per cent in them. You get more energy.
"Every footballer wants to win a trophy and, after the season we have had, lifting a cup would be brilliant.
"I have always been okay with nerves, and I am used to playing in front of thousands of people for Bury so that won't affect me."
The fact that Boro will lock horns with neighbours FC United of Manchester, who beat Boro 2-0 in the league on Tuesday night, is something that is not lost on Connell.
"Playing FC United means we will be guaranteed a big crowd," said Connell. "We have played them four times already. We beat them comfortably in the semi-finals of the Manchester Cup and they will remember that.
"That means they might have more determination to beat us, but I can't see what they have got that should worry us.
"They have a bigger squad than us so they can rotate their players, but we won't be tired from Tuesday night.
"We are all looking forward to the final and none of the lads will be tired, they will be able to run all night.
"We have got Steve Howson up-front, and he is on fire at the moment. He has scored 35 goals this season, and FC United will know that he is a danger man."
The only players missing for Boro are cup-tied duo Mark Jones and Griff Jones but both should return for Saturday's home clash with Chorley. Talented teenager Craig Dawson should return to the starting line-up tonight after being on the bench on Tuesday.