It was on a knife-edge, then I tucked away the winner - Sorvs relives his Trophy semi-final special moment!

Here is the first of two articles press officer John Edwards submitted for inclusion in this week's Messenger newspaper. Look out for the second one, including a stirring message from Phil Parkinson, here on the website tomorrow.

Semi-finals can test the nerve of even the most seasoned professional, but help is at hand for Altrincham's players ahead of their Isuzu FA Trophy last-four tie in the form of assistant-manager Neil Sorvel.

Sorvs has been there and done it in the non-League equivalent of the FA Cup after being an integral cog in a Macclesfield midfield that was too good for Northwich Victoria in the final at Wembley in 1996.

It was an unforgettable day beneath the Twin Towers for Sorvel and his Macc team-mates, but it's a nerve-shredding semi-final against Chorley that remains the most vivid memory for Alty boss Phil Parkinson's number two and one he will call on to help spur the Robins on against FC Halifax Town at The J.Davidson Stadium on Saturday.

'Given the prize is a place at the mecca of football, you have to say this is the big one,' he said. 'It's every player's dream to step out at Wembley, but you've got to clear this hurdle first.

'That's how I felt at Macc when we faced Chorley in the semi-final. It was over two legs back then, and we beat them 3-1 at our place.

'That was a decent lead to take to Victory Park, but they scored midway through the first half, and suddenly they were only one behind and we were hanging on.

'I was probably only in my early 20s, and I remember feeling really nervous at half-time with only one goal in it, worrying we might not be able to hold on.

'We were under the pump and were so nearly pegged back late on when a lob over the keeper was going in until one of our lads sprinted back and somehow managed to head it clear from under the bar. That was an incredible moment, one of those that semi-finals can turn on, because if it had gone in, they would have had all the momentum.

'It really could have gone either way, but then, right at the end, it turned in our favour. Phil Power, who also had a spell at Alty, played the ball through to me, and I was in a one-on-one with their keeper.

'Without thinking, I just tucked it away in the corner, and suddenly everyone went mad. We knew we were over the line. The pressure was off, and I just remember being mobbed.

'I didn't score many in my career, and, for a split-second, I didn't know how to celebrate - from memory, I think I just ran straight into the crowd! It was an incredible moment, and the feeling in the changing room afterwards was one of the great memories of my playing days.

'To be fair, though, that header off the line was equally as important as my goal. It came at a crucial time and, honestly, it was unbelievable.

'It was all about getting through on the day and making sure we did everything that was needed. That's how big these semi-finals are, and we'll be giving it everything on Saturday because it would be great to keep the season alive and maintain interest and excitement levels right to the end, if we possibly can.'

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