Bristol Rovers (a) Preview (2)
At the second time of asking, Fulham and Bristol Rovers will try to get their FA Cup third round replay played.
Last week torrential rain resulted in the pitch becoming waterlogged and the pitch was deemed unplayable by the referee at 16:00 hours in the afternoon.
Since then, Fulham have suffered a 3-0 reverse against Arsenal, a loss that has further dampened our chances of beating the drop.
Therefore, the FA Cup comes as something of a relief and gives Roy Hodgson the chance to eek out his first win since taking charge. If it happens it`ll be a welcome relief, if I doesn`t and Fulham crash out of the FA Cup to lower league opposition, it`d sort of sum up our season at the moment.
With more rain having fallen over the weekend, there is every chance the pitch is going to be boggy to say the least. In the best of FA Cup traditions, the pitch will be deemed s a great leveller.
In the first game, at Craven Cottage, Bristol Rovers showed they are no mugs by twice taking the lead. Hodgson will have to use all his man-management skills to ensure the players minds are on the job.
Hodgson will though have one important decision to make. Should he give Jimmy Bullard his first start since coming back from injury? Bullard completed forty-five minutes on Saturday and looked as if there is more in the tank.
However, the state of the pitch could play a part in any decision making. Does Roy really want to put Bullard through such a test or is he content to use what other players he has t see us safely through to round four where either Swindon Town or Barnet await us?
We here at Vital Fulham suspect Jimmy will be afforded the comfort of a place on the bench. However, with regards to a starting eleven, we doubt whether Hodgson will veer to far away from the eleven that started on Saturday against Arsenal.
One possible change could see a switch back to two up front. If so, it may be the opportunity to give Kuqi a chance to compete aerially with the Rovers back line on a night whereby the pitch will mean the long, high ball could well be a viable proposition.
Hopefully, Fulham will see off the plucky challenge of Bristol Rovers and we will not need extra time or the lottery of a penalty shoot out, although with Niemi between the posts I`d seriously fancy our chances in any shoot-out.
Come on Fulham; give us something to smile about!
Make Wednesday morning a pleasurable experience.