By Tony Leighton
Oldham Athletic defender James Tarkowski has more reason than most to end his team's Chesterfield hoodoo in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy when they entertain the Spireites in the Northern Section Semi-Final on Tuesday evening.
Tarkowski is the only Oldham player to have started all three matches in which the two side have clashed in the Trophy over the last two seasons, Chesterfield winning on each occasion - most notably in the 2011/12 two-leg Area Final, following which they went on to win the Wembley Final against Swindon Town.
Then, last term, the Spireites overcame the Latics in the First Round and Tarkowski told football-league.co.uk: "We couldn't have a better incentive to reach the Area Final than those defeats by Chesterfield.
"The first one in particular was very disappointing. That was the season Chesterfield got relegated and we were favourites to reach Wembley, but we let ourselves down in front of goal in both legs and paid the price.
"I guess we'll be favourites again as we're now a division above them, but they're a good side who are in the automatic promotion places and although we'll have home advantage I think it will be another tough game against them.
"We've come this far though, and we want to go all the way to Wembley. You don't get many chances to play there and for clubs in the lower divisions the Johnstone's Paint Trophy is the best opportunity - and we want to take it."
Oldham certainly should be favourites after knocking out Sky Bet League 1 rivals in each of the Trophy rounds to date, though on Saturday they were held to a 1-1 draw by League 2 team Mansfield Town in the second round of the FA Cup.
But, like Tarkowski and his team-mates have a big incentive to beat Chesterfield, they have been handed a massive reason to beat Mansfield in their replay as the winners will visit Premier League giants Liverpool in the third round.
The Latics thrillingly beat the Reds 3-2 at home in last season's fourth round before holding Everton to a 2-2 fifth round draw at Boundary Park, only to lose the replay 3-1 at Goodison Park and miss out on reaching the quarter-finals.
"We've been given a huge FA Cup carrot," said 21-year-old Tarkowski, one of Oldham's longest serving players despite his tender age. "Last year's run was brilliant and playing at Everton was a fantastic experience even though we lost.
"To play Liverpool at Anfield would be great, but we can't think about that yet because we've got a difficult replay. And most importantly at the minute, we've got a Johnstone's Paint Trophy game that could put us one tie from Wembley."
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