by Dr John Dee on 14/01/08 at 12:00 am
It's Game On at the Mem as the magic bubble and better weather help the pitch pass it's 10AM inspection as Rovers play Fulham in what should be close to a full-house to witness a lively encounter…
No real need to point out Fulham’s strengths and weaknesses here…we played them the other week and we’ve been highlighted to death on Sky Sports News ever since. They will however be without new signing Brede Hangelaand who is inelegible due to some cockamamie FA rule about replays.
This time, the media will be drooling at the prospect of recording another FA Cup giant-killing that will have the armchair fans of the world recalling the passion of “The World’s greatest club competition”, Hereford’s dearest son – Ronnie Radford and Nathan ‘The Duke’ Ellington’s hat-trick at Derby six (Yes, six!) years ago.
Realistically, Fulham will come, get their goals, ease their manager’s blood pressure and bugger off back to London looking forward to the fourth round.
But fear not, good ladies and gentlemen…as Rovers may prove to have a few sneaky Aces up the sleeve when it comes to this glamorous showdown.
Firstly, Fulham will not have played on a pitch as ‘Emotionally troubled’ as the Memorial for quite some time. Thinking about it…it would probably be the year they played at Stamford Bridge when it had the temporary ‘beach’ effect going on.
Their passing will be disrupted, running more difficult and after all, the spirits and aura’s on this turf all wear blue and white. Or rugby jerseys.
Now doubt, commentators and fans alike will be pinning a lot of hopes on the rejuvenated Andy “Crooner” Williams, who has found a rich vein of form in his last three league appearances.
The early money says Grand Leader Trollope will stick with the same troops that plundered the points from Prenton Park last Friday, with the new-look midfield of “Sir” Chris Lines and Danny Coles taking root in the team-sheet (Albeit with Lines now working his Rolls-Royce passing from the left). But after a good sub perfomance on Saturday, Craig Disley might well squeeze his way in to the starting 11.
These aside, Rovers will also look for another sterling performance from Rickie Lambert, the quiet, sizeable scouser up front who will look to make an impression up front with his unquestionable footballing intelligence.
Even though a fear of jinxing the match runs through me, I cant help but think a well worked move between Lambert and Williams will give the Gas at least one chance to dirty Annti Niemi’s sheet at the Mem.
Rovers are of course relying on the FA Cup again for a route into Europe as we are already out of the Carling Cup and I doubt we will break into the top 6 of the Premiership unless some radical spending is implemented within the next few days.
Fantasies put to the back of my mind for one second, I will be happy with a gutsy performance from the boys in blue, combined with a closely-fought loss.
Obviously I would loves us to book our place in Round 4, but one does have to be realistic, we have come a long way, but expecting home wins versus Premiership opposition is still on the to-do list.
Good luck boys, may your FA Cup dreams still be active come bedtime on Tuesday night!