FOURTEEN years ago Accrington Stanley reached the FA Cup third round for the first time in the club’s history.

The Reds’ reward for giant-killing victories over two sides now in the Premier League - Huddersfield Town and Bournemouth - was a home tie against then third tier Colchester United.

John Coleman’s side, then in the Conference, were hoping to breach a 46-place and two-division gap to book a place in round four.

It wasn’t to me for the plucky non-leaguers. Stanley, who dominated for much of the afternoon in front of a crowd of 4,368, drew 0-0 before losing the replay 2-1.

This weekend the sides meet again in the cup for the first time since.

But this time around it is Accrington who are the scalp. The Reds are seventh in League One after a strong start to the season while Colchester arrive in the league below, albeit riding high in third with just four defeats from 17 games.

For Coleman it is a chance to reflect on the remarkable recent rise of the Reds.

“I pinch myself thinking about the draw,” said the Reds boss. “When the draw was made we were one of the plum ties and that is unbelievable. I can’t ever remember an FA Cup draw when you weren’t looking at it hoping you would get a name and now all of a sudden we have become a name and it takes some time to get used to.

“It is remarkable to go back to last time we played Colchester in the FA Cup and we were in the Conference and they were in League One so there was a healthy gap between us.

“It was our highest attendance since I have been here. It was over 4,000.

“I remember coming into training and the fans were queueing right back down Livingstone Road for tickets.

“The game itself was a great game, we drew 0-0.

“Paul Cook, who never, ever headed a ball in all the time I had him, came up with a bullet header a minute before the end and it hit the post. Then we went to Colchester and lost the reply.

“But that was a massive game for us and now to be a league above them, that would have taken some day dreaming to think that that would happen when we played them last time.”

For all the talk of nostalgia, Coleman knows the Colchester class of 2018 will pose plenty of problems.

John McGreal’s men have won four of their last five games and are in the automatic promotion places in League Two.

“This is one of the worst draws we could have to be honest,” said the Reds boss. “They are doing well and scoring goals and will be full of confidence, but we believe we are a good side as well.

“We have done our homework on them but we know we have to get ourselves right.

“If we can start putting the ball in the back of the net more regularly given the number of chances we create then it could lend itself to being a smashing game on Saturday. It could be an attractive game to watch.”