Sunday, 6 January 2013

Our big day

So here we are then, 24 hours (and a bit) away from one of the biggest nights in Cheltenham Town's history.
Whaddon Road is about to host its' biggest FA Cup tie in seven years, since Mr Shearer and co came along with Newcastle and left with a 2-0 victory.
But that wasn't the easiest win they ever had - John Finnigan had his best game in red and white, while Kayode Odejayi gave Jean Alain Boumsong and Titus Bramble the run around.
As far as the status of the opposition goes, this is probably the biggest game we have had at Whaddon Road.
Importance-wise, the Yeovil game in 1999 will not be topped - that match, and how it panned out, changed the direction of our club forever.
However, this Everton side is packed with quality, and no matter what team David Moyes sends out, we will be massive underdogs.
It is one of those games where our key players, the likes of Scott Brown, Alan Bennett, Steve Elliott, Jermaine McGlashan, Russ Penn and Marlon Pack, have to have the game of their lives, while some of the Everton side are a bit off the boil.
One time out of 10 we will turn them over - let's hope this is the one time.
When we went to Spurs last year, I never thought we stood much chance of an upset, as we were away and their side was packed with quality - and as the game panned out we were never really in it.
We battled hard but were always up against it. But this is different, mainly as we are at home.
We will have the majority of the crowd, and hopefully the ground will be rocking. It will be fantastic to see the old place full again.
I am looking forward to seeing what side Moyes puts out, and how our players match up to them.
I suspect Leighton Baines will play, and Phil Neville, Marouane Fellaini after his ban, Nikica Jelavic and Victor Anichebe, and some younger names like Ross Barkley and Shane Duffy might get a run-out.
It is a shame we won't see Luke Garbutt as continues to come back from injury, but it will be good to see these top players roll up at our compact ground, and I wonder how they will react to it.
That will hold the key to the game. If Everton's attitude is spot on - and with Moyes barking at them I suspect it is the vast majority of the time - they should win, but there is always that hope.
They lost to Shrewsbury 10 years ago, so surely it is time for them to be turned over again...
Mark Yates' pre-match comments have been spot on - he has not come out and said 'we will enjoy the occasion'. He is sending his team out to win, no pick up a souvenir shirt for the lounge wall.
If we do end up getting beaten, my over-riding hope is that we do ourselves justice and make Everton work hard for their place in the next round - do we really want to go to Bolton or Sunderland anyway...??!!
The 2006 vintage did just that against Newcastle, and arguably this team has just as much, if not more in some cases, ability than that side.
It would be a shame if we go out to a defensive howler, or if we have golden chances we do not take. Don't come off the pitch with regrets.
There should be no pressure on our players. I am not even nervous about this game like I would be about a run-of-the-mill league game, or like I was at Hereford before the replay.
This can be a 'free' 90 minutes for our lads. Go out there, get in their faces and show what you can do, and see where it takes you.
A win would be incredible, a draw fantastic, but whatever happens it is going to be a special night.