Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday January 23 2009
The Premier League gets put on the back-burner for a few days as the FA Cup takes centre stage. The draw has pitted us against Kettering Town and it`s a tie fraught with danger as 'The Poppies` have already knocked out two league sides this season, will we become a third, not blinking likely is my view!
As you`d expect, all the focus is on the non-league side, the media are down on their knees, as we speak, praying for an upset. Kettering are managed by Mark Cooper, son of the legendary Terry Cooper who played for Leeds and England.
Looking ahead to the fixture, Mark had this to say,
'We're really looking forward to it, hopefully it [captain Guy Branston's suspension] gives us an added incentive to get a result."
'We need one big, mammoth effort to get anywhere near the fifth round.
'It's going to take luck and we'll need to throw our bodies in front of everything."
'All we can do is make sure we give the players every tool we can to make them competitive in the game.'
Not too competitive please Mark, we`re still all in shock at the Bullard news!
The cruel side of the game is epitomised by the fact that the Kettering captain, Guy Branston, will miss the tie due to suspension. Our heart bleeds for him!
Elsewhere, Mark Cooper is expected to be able call upon the servies of Exodus Geohaghon whilst Tommy Jaszczun and Brett Solkhon may also get the nod from their boss.
Unfortunately, Jason Lee (is he of the pineapple hair?) is cup tied and will miss out and Nathan Smith is another rout of luck as he misses the game due to injury,
Something of a lucky talisman for Kettering as he`s scored in the last two rounds, lets hope he doesn`t make it a third on the trot.
Roy Hodgson faces a tough decision, should he go with his strongest eleven or is the Sunderland fixture, on Tuesday evening, utmost in his mind? Chuck in the furore surrounding the possibility of losing the talismatic Jimmy Bullard to Hull City and it`s clear to see these are not good times. After the defeat at Upton Park last weekend Roy will not want to suffer two defeats on the bounce and I`d hazard a guess he`ll not want to mess about with a replay.
Therefore, I have an inkling that the starting eleven will not be too far off of our strongest available, with perhaps the odd exception. I`ll go for:
Schwarzer, Stoor, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Gera, Murphy, Andreasen, Davies, Dempsey, Johnson.
In the week leading up to the fixture Simon has had a lot to say about going to Rockingham Road with the right attitude, seeing as he`s been there before let`s hope he sets the perfect example and produces a polished display to help see off the gallant non-league side.
This will be the first time these two clubs have met in the FA Cup therefore the history books have nothing at all to tell us.
Oh damn! Mike Riley will be the man content to keep his whistle the most prominent part of the proceedings!
This is a right old 'David and Goliath` fixture with everybody, bar the Fulham support, waiting for the Premier League club to slip up and suffer humiliation. Well sorry to disappoint you folks but this fixture has got a Fulham win written all over it!
After our trip to Rockingham Road we face a difficult trip to 'The Stadium of Light` to face Sunderland on January 27th.
Date:Friday January 23 2009
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