It’s FA Cup time once again as we travel to Broadhall Way, home of League One Stevenage on Sunday afternoon in the 5th round. The Boro – as they still seem to be called despite dropping the ‘Borough’ part of their name a while ago – are having a good season and currently lie in the play-off places with at least one game in hand on those immediately above them.
The unheralded Gary Smith is their manager, an interesting appointment. He’s an ex-Gooner coach who apparently impressed Stan Kroenke so much that he sent him over to Colorado to manage his MLS Rapids team. Smith enjoyed great success over there but recently turned down a new four-year contract after a dispute, hence his availability to apply for the Stevenage job when they became managerless in January after Graham Westley was poached by Preston North End.
It was under Westley that Stevenage achieved promotion last season and also beat Newcastle 3-1 in the FA Cup. This season they were the first team to beat high-flying Charlton and they also dumped all over Sheffield Wednesday 5-1 so they’re obviously no mugs as a current run of one defeat in 19 games emphasises.
They have two of our former players that I’ve been able to spot. Keeper Chris Day was on our books in the early nineties and made one appearance but full back Ronnie Henry comes from far more romantic stock, he is the grandson of Ron Henry, a stalwart of the Double side, and also was the first captain to lift a trophy at the new Wembley.
That’s enough about them.
There’s a fair chance that many of our lot will have spent the last few days staring into space wondering whether it can get any better such was the finality & gorgeousness of our dispatching of the Geordies on Saturday evening. Louis Saha’s statement that the first twenty minutes was the fastest he’s ever played the game says much about our display. Mix in the Revivalist atmosphere, some supine opposition and Benny’s your uncle, a very tasty night to remember.
Harry will, as is usual in the cups, pick a side he thinks is good enough to win but poses minimum risk to the next league game. As stated above though Stevenage need to be taken seriously. Those with niggles will probably be protected but if fit all of Kaboul, Defoe, Lennon and Sandro can probably expect to feature and they wont be the only first teamers on show. Nelsen may get his first full outing. Rose, Livermore, and Cudicini will probably start.
Yes, it’s all speculation; I haven’t got a clue really. What I do know is that we’ll need to take the game seriously and play a whole lot better than we did at Watford. The prize is a place in the last eight and from there it’s only three more wins to the trophy, a trophy that we used to be synonymous with, but not for a while now. Phil Dowd is the referee, he’ll no doubt be hoping for a quieter game than last weekend.
Cup fever is here. COYS.
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