Thursday 16 June 2011

No luck of the draw

So it goes on - Cheltenham Town's rotten luck in Cup draws, that is.
In 12 years as a Football League club, only the home tie against Newcastle in the FA Cup can be construed as a decent bit of luck in draws for the Carling Cup, FA Cup or the JPT.
Yes, we have been to Fulham - losing to a last-minute Louis Saha goal - and Sunderland, we have won at Norwich and played Stoke at home, but we have never pulled out that real plum tie.
Three away games at Southend, and utterly fruitless trips to the likes of Brighton, Brentford, Cambridge and Crystal Palace
The Carling Cup draw this morning paired us with Milton Keynes Dons, at home, and the immediate Twitter reaction was that the CTFC faithful were distinctly underwhelmed.
Most of the words describing the draw started with an 's' and ended in a 't', or an even adding an extra 'e' if the twitterer wanted to really emphasise their displeasure.
To be honest though, of the 18 seeds in the Southern section, there were not many who could have been described as a really plum attraction.
There was West Ham, obviously. Maybe Cardiff or Reading. There was Portsmouth for the Steve Cotterill links, Colchester at a big push for John Ward and our former players to come back.
On a personal basis and for my own sentimentality, there was Watford, even if they are doing their best to utterly self-destruct at present.
Bristol City would have been a good local draw and would have filled the away end, but apart from that there was not really a lot to get excited about.
Aside from those games, and the thought of making a bit of money from the game, the next consideration was to have a home game, and something which, given a decent performance and a bit of luck, could be winnable.
With the Dons, we have that - however, with our recent home record, maybe we should have been drawn away...
One consolation from not getting that really plum draw was that someone like Hereford or Yeovil, who always seem to get the plum games and the TV cash, also missed out, Hereford getting Brentford and Yeovil away to Exeter.
As it is, I can see Nottingham Forest v Notts County and maybe Leeds v Bradford City being in the driving seat for the Sky roadshow.
Meanwhile, we make do with a visit from the Dons, who we have played twice before, losing 3-1 up there in a game which saw Scott Brown save a penalty, and 5-3 at home with Damian Spencer scoring a hat-trick as a second half substitute in a crazy game, ironically when we had a crazy manager.
MK are managed by Karl Robinson, who is younger than a lot of his players at 30, and played all of his career in non -league for the likes of Prescot Cables, Alsager Town and Marine.
But he was the youngest holder of the UEFA Pro-Licence and coached at Liverpool's academy and at Blackburn before getting the job in Buckinghamshire.
He is assisted by the former Swindon boss John Gorman, and had Robbie Fowler on the coaching staff last season, and followed the likes of Paul Ince, Roberto di Matteo, Danny Wilson and that mad bloke who managed us in charge at stadium:mk, where seemingly capital letters are banned.
Last season, they finished 5th in League One, and missed out in the play-offs against Peterborough, 4-3 on aggregate after winning the first leg 2-0.
Today, they have rejected a double approach from Peterborough United for Sam Baldock and Stephen Gleeson.
Posh, who had an offer worth more than £1million for 22-year-old Baldock, who they had earmarked as Craig Mackail-Smith's replacement, turned down two weeks ago, tabled an improved bid for the striker, and have now said they won't be back for another bid.
Baldock and Peter Leven are the main dangers for the Robins, as Baldock got 14 goals and Leven eight, while 10 goals were contributed by midfielder Danny Powell, a former Forest Green loan player, scoring six goals in 24 games at the New Lawn.
They will be a tough propostion, and will no doubt add to their squad before they come to Whaddon as 
Robinson will be under pressure to go one better than the play-off defeat last season.
But a good performance at home from us, and we might be able to turn them over and go into the hat for round two, when the Premier League sides not in Europe come in - so Liverpool, Everton and Villa are possible opponents.
However, we all know that with our Cup draw luck, if we do get past the Dons, we will get an away draw at Carlisle ...

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