RICHARD Smart has compared this Knutsford team to others he has played in, and believes they are better-equipped to win the Cheshire FA Amateur Cup.

Reds have reached the last eight of the latest edition and travel to Ellesmere Port Town this Saturday, kick-off 1.30pm.

The defender predicts his side will run into determined hosts.

“I know what to expect,” he said.

“I’m from that part of the world, and played in the same league as them with my previous clubs.

“They’ll give everything, and we’ll have to match that.”

He told the Guardian that Reds are short of match practice after playing just twice since they eliminated neighbours Egerton at the previous stage back on November 11.

They will be sharper though after a hard-fought friendly with Stockport Georgians, which ended 1-1, last weekend.

Smart said: “As a player, the postponements are so frustrating.

“It’s been the same for the past three or four years, and so you kind of expect it now.

“We’ve done bits and pieces together as a group to keep ticking over, but there’s no substitute for playing competitively.

“The game last Saturday was exactly what we needed, and we finished strongly after blowing off the cobwebs in the first-half.”

They turn their attention next to a competition that no Cheshire League side has won since Barnton in 2004.

Smart, a defender, is in his seventh season with Knutsford.

They have reached the quarter-finals in five of the past six, only to lose each time.

“It’s become a stumbling block,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s because we’ve not been strong or good enough – it’s been more mental.

“The West Cheshire League sides have dominated to such an extent that I’m not sure we believed we could go all the way.

“The new players that have come in this season have made an impact; they’ve made us better as a side because they’re good, but the mentality has changed too.

“While we want to win the league, the lads did talk during pre-season about the county cup and trying to make a mark in it.”

“It’s something that’s on their radar, that’s for sure.”

Smart assisted manager Scott Dignan last term, but has switched focus back to playing following the arrival of Paul Riley from Linotype in the summer.

He has made a dozen appearances, mainly as a substitute, and insists he is motivated to add to a trio of league titles claimed during his time at Manchester Road.

“I’m running out of time to win this one!” he quipped.

Knutsford A host Poynton in the Reserves Division Challenge Cup on Saturday, kick-off 2pm.