‘We’ll Never Make It Back To Wembley’, Part Two (or Altrincham Match Preview 19.1.10)

After our return to League action, we immediately switch our attention to the Trophy and welcome Altrincham down to the ‘Meadow. While not exactly the Magic of the Cup, the Temptation of the Trophy will be enough to drag 1732 hardy souls down to Kingsmeadow to see this vital Second Round tie. In fact I’d almost rather have half of those there than the bland atmosphere we witnessed for most of Saturday, when my concentration had been broken on several occasions by the dropping of knitting needles in the Strank Stand…

I love midweek cup action at Kingsmeadow; that it’s normally just the hardcore who turn out for this type of game means perversely there is more concrete and steel for the atmosphere to bounce off, and not absorbed into static flesh like it was on Saturday. Plus where do these extra supporters disappear to for these midweek cup ties? We are always going to lose a few due to kids not coming, distant Dons being unable to travel, late shift workers not being able to get there in time… but that can’t account for half our regular fanbase, surely?

I think its down to our modern Sky-assisted idea (yup, it’s always Sky’s fault…) that there is nothing like the League, and all other tournaments are little more than a meaningless distraction… which as we all know is horsecrap of the highest order. The cup is where it’s at, and if you think back to some of the greatest games you’ve seen, I guarantee at least half of them would be cup ties – which those of you working out the ratio of League games played to Cup games would already have worked out, doesn’t quite add up…

To borrow a Football Managers Cliche, ‘The League is our bread and butter’… which probably explains why managers are more likely to suffer heart problems. Stop moaning about stress, try using low-fat spread for a while, that’ll sort it out. Plus you can’t eat bread and butter all the time, which is effectively what these stay-away fans are doing… How do they avoid the boredom of Conference fixture after Conference fixture? You need the curry of an FA Cup run, or the microwave Spag Bol of the Trophy from time to time… even the Curly Wurly of the Surrey Senior Cup is enough to sort me out good and proper…

As for the game itself, lets not kid ourselves that we are going to overwhelm Altrincham. If they won their three games in hand they would only be a win away from us (not that they will necessarily win those games, it’s just a way of saying ‘careful now..’), and have shown some pretty decent form away from home. Their supporters are confident – not just for this tie but for them to go on and win the thing – which is a great attitude to have (and I mean that not in a patronising way, football gods…).

Having said that, I think we would have been more likely to throw this one away if we’d played the game on its original date. Ever since we lost 1-5 at home to Southall in the Combined Counties Premier Challenge Cup we have looked shaky at the ‘Meadow in cup competitions played on a Saturday. I’m still waking up in the middle of the night sweating while having nightmares about Walton & Hersham. Even right up to Boreham Wood, when we could easily have ended by shuffling out of the ground wondering what just happened.

Team news now, and as the O/S conveniently managed to point out just before I had the chance to, John McAliskey is Cup Tied and won’t be featuring for the visitors. There, thats it, my one and only insight into the Altrincham lineup and they go and ruin it… ahem, although my sources close to the Moss Lane outfit suggest apart from that the lineup will be pretty similar to the side that picked up three points at Ebbsfleet on Saturday (which is more than we did…).

Dons news, and the list of those available would probably be easier to write than those that are out, but as far as I’m aware those Cup Tied are Hendry, Poole and Garrard, with the beast that is Elder unavailable due to not being signed in time for the original tie (one of those weird rules that you only find out about when it affects you…). With Saturday’s Man of the Match out, we will have to make do with top scorer Danny Kedwell starting, and with a point to prove.

In reality our best forward line will probably turn out to be Kedwell alongside Elder, despite Jon Main’s best attempts to put himself about Keds style on Saturday. Main can put an end to that type of talk tomorrow however, and I’m sure he’ll be desperate to avoid slipping out of the starting XI altogether no matter how effective most of us think he can be as an impact substitute.

So in my opinion, we will line up something like this;

Brown

Conroy

Blanchett

Johnson

Judge

Adjei

Hatton

Taylor

Wellard

Kedwell

Main

Ricky Wellard’s fifteen minutes against Mansfield has shown his desire is there, even if we may have to make do with the negatives as well as the positives he brings to the side – although like Sam Hatton I’m one of those who firmly believes those positives far outweigh any mistakes he might make. Plus he seems to have discovered his eye for goal, so keep an eye out for any screamers he might let loose from distance… one day one of them is going to end up in the top corner and we’ll be talking about it for months…

Apart from that, the side pretty much picks itself at the moment, mainly due to those unavailable. With Lorraine out the centre half pairing looks assured, I think if Blanchett can walk he’ll be asked to play over a virus-ridden Derek Duncan, and continuity will be good enough reason to keep Sebb Brown between the sticks despite what must be a strong urge to give returning senior goalkeeper Jamie Pullen a Cup run-out. The only thing I’m not quite sure of is formation, so we could see something interesting happen involving Ross Montague should Terry decide to leave a midfielder on what I would imagine could be a fairly lightweight bench.

I spent most of today thinking about this game; I’ve been looking forward to it since the draw was made. We could be in for a difficult but watchable game, I would expect the home team to have 60-70% of possession, but it certainly won’t be enough to make sure of a victory on its own – its making use of the ball that is going to ensure whether we win through, or watch Altrincham continue on their way and wonder what might have been.

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