Yeovil Town take on Stockport County in the First Round of the FA Cup tomorrow. This is the first time that the Glovers have been drawn out of the hat as the home side in nearly five years, with Liverpool the Third Round opponents on that day back in January 2004.
Their opponents lie in 11th place in the League One table, eight places and seven points better off than Yeovil Town. Significantly, they are undefeated away from home this season in the league with three wins and three draws. Once last season's league form is taken into account, they have had just one defeat on their travels during 2008 and so will fancy their chances of winning this tie at the first attempt. The chink in their armour though, is that they have lost both of their away matches in cup competitions this season.
The Glovers go into the match on the back of their best form of 2008, with two wins and two draws in their last four league matches. Their squad has been boosted this week by the arrival of striker Gifton Noel-Williams, who will challenge Scott Rendell for a starting place in the side. Both have been given permission by their parent clubs to play in the competition tomorrow, although for rather obvious reasons, the same can not be said for defender Gareth Owen, who despite not playing will provide manager Russell Slade with a useful insight into how his colleagues at Stockport line up. Owen's place is likely to be taken by club captain Terry Skiverton, who has been out recently with a rib injury. A second change will be the selection of goalkeeper Josh Wagenaar, who replaces Asmir Begovic who has now returned to Portsmouth.
Aside from Owen, midfielder Marc Bircham (ankle) is the only other definite absentee, with no date set as yet for his return. He has had an injection in his ankle this week to try and help deal with the problem and will be assessed today to determine the next steps in his recovery, although the refusal to set a date for his return suggests that he is unlikely to return in the short term. Gary Roberts (knee) and Aaron Brown (hip) have had some treatment this week but their knocks are not thought to be serious enough to keep them out of the side. Andy Welsh is the other doubt, having missed last week's match with a groin injury.
Stockport go into the match with zero injury problems, with manager Jim Gannon having a massive 26 man squad to select from. Recent loanees Fraser Forster, Tony Kane and Jarolsaw Fojut have returned to their parent clubs. They've brought in Oldham Athletic striker Craig Davies on loan until January 3rd, and he will be allowed to play in the FA Cup tomorrow. Gannon admitted that having such a large squad presented its own problems:
"Some of our players are going to be kicking their heels because they want to play competitive football. The hardest thing now is giving everyone games. Some players may come to see me about the situation and there may be a few who go out on loan in order to get some match sharpness. There's competition for every position on the pitch. It's a healthy situation and I couldn't be more pleased at present."
Both teams suffered badly in the FA Cup last season, with the TV cameras there to capture their embarrassment. Whilst the Glovers were slipping out against Torquay United, Stockport were also being humbled at the First Round stage when they lost to Staines Town on penalties after they failed to beat them in a replay.
The match kicks off at 3.00p.m. at Huish Park with tickets available on the day from the Huish Park Ticket Office. There is no matchday surcharge for this game, and there is a Kids for a Quid admission offer for this match. See our earlier article for further details.
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