So here we are again. FA Cup replay, the stuff of legend. We always like those old stories about some semi-professional club fighting through four replays with Liverpool in the late 70's, but that sort of thing is just not realistic in today's Premier League world. If tomorrow's match i snot settled after 90 minutes, there will be 30 minutes of extra time. If there is still no winner, penalty kicks. Good god, please don't let it come to that.
It has to be said though, the lower league clubs seldom win replays. Maybe because they are no longer at their home ground. Maybe because their luck ran out. Maybe because the bigger club took them more seriously. Or maybe the depth of talent premier league clubs (even smaller ones like us) possess just catches up with them.
Don't mistake our bout of realism with overconfidence, We are absolutely terrified about this match tomorrow. Why? Keep reading...
Last Saturday, Macclesfield probably had the three best players on the pitch, and they were in attack. George Donnelly filled the job of lone striker brilliantly, almost as if he were a Kevin Davies clone. The poor performance of the real Kevin Davies made it stand out even more. Arnaud Mendy had the finish of the weekend on a brilliant turn from 20 yards out. Colin Daniel dominated the match for large stretches, which is not easy to do from the wing, and was possibly the best player of the whole round. Could they do it again. Sure, and that is why we are having night sweats.
But that is the emotional argument. The logical side of our brains does have a rebuttal. If those players were capable of those types of performances on even a semi-regular basis, they would not be in League Two. Mendy will never score another goal that good in the rest of his life. Colin Daniel will (hopefully) be faced with a legitimate professional footballer at left back this time. And Donnelly, well, he wasn't that good last time...
Enough about the glorious underdogs, what about the Mighty Bolton Wanderers. First the good news, the lads have played better recently. Wins over Blackburn and Everton, coupled with draws against Wolves and Macclesfield may not be Champions League form, but it is a massive improvement on most of the last 9 months.
There are concerns about tomorrow's team selection.We've got Liverpool Saturday and Arsenal next Wednesday. Might Owen Coyle have one eye on those league matches. The correct answer; Hell no! Go for it Owen!
Not only do we want to win this match, but our first team players need the time on the pitch. David Wheater and Zatyiah Knight have a very shaky partnership that should improve with time. Ivan Klasnic and David Ngog seem to be developing a good understanding with each other, and the more games they play together, the more chances they will create for each other. It would also be nice to see Tuncay get a start.
These replays have a way of being anticlimactic, and it would do Whites supporters' hearts a lot of good if Bolton could score three goals in the first 20 minutes and really put this thing to bed. That's the prediction. 3-0 to the Wanderers. What do you think?