That previously empty looking weekend in your diaries on 11th December can now be inked in with a home game against Braintree, currently sitting second in the BSS. The Dons have had a little difficulty overcoming sides from this division in FA competitions so far this season, and it will be interesting to see just how seriously Brown decides to take this competition. From a fans perspective though, and lets not be ashamed to be a little greedy here, it is the first step on what will be our only chance of reaching Wembley this season.
One positive about the timing of the game is currently we have a clear week after our game at York behind it and a clear week ahead to Wrexham, this could change if we require a replay following Saturdays game. There’s no doubt Brown will field the strongest side possible, but in a week that has seen key players rested after reaching the point of exhaustion the temptation will be there to give certain players a week off. If the game takes place a few days after a tough FA Cup replay, the decision to field a weakened side could be taken out of his hands.
I suppose how competitive we will be will depend on whether Brown manages to bolster his squad. With a few thousand swirling around in the coffers thanks to the TV money from the cup run, Brown mentioned keeping tabs on another target man to take the pressure off Danny Kedwell in Sundays programme notes, as well as the possibility of bringing in a defender on loan in his post match press conference. At the moment, with Johnson’s injury and Yakubu’s inability to play two games in a week, we are effectively down to two and a half centre halves for our two biggest games of the season, meaning the talented but young Harris and Franks will pair up for either the Stevenage or (more likely) Luton games.
As for Braintree themselves, they seem more than capable of pulling off an upset even if the Dons go full strength. Despite being something of a cliché that all you want in a cup draw is a side from a lower division at home, you would almost have preferred a home tie against the likes of Hayes or Bath than a side near the top of their division and firing on all cylinders.
Having said that, the draw could have been worse. We avoided Crawley, Luton… even the likes of Cambridge would have given us a decent game. This tie is winnable. Questions about the strength of side we should field can wait, the way players seem to be dropping like flies at the moment suggests if things get any worse in the next couple of weeks we may not have too much of a squad to select a side from…