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Lambert: It Would Be Great to Go Through and Draw One of the Big Guns
Friday, 29th Nov 2019 18:00

Blues boss Paul Lambert says it would be great to win Sunday’s second-round FA Cup tie against Coventry City at St Andrew’s and the draw one of the “big guns” in the third round. Town ended their near-10-year 15-game winless FA Cup run by beating Lincoln 1-0 in their first-round replay just over a week ago.

Lambert, who has fielded much-changed sides featuring fringe players in the competition, but despite that approach says he enjoys the ties, as he does all other matches.

“I enjoy all of the games,” he said. “I enjoy all the games we’re involved in. I’ve been in the game a long, long time but I don’t think there’s ever been a game where I’ve thought I’m not into it.”

Lambert never played in the FA Cup as his career never took him to England but he fondly remembers winning the Scottish Cup with St Mirren as a 17-year-old when they beat Dundee United 1-0 at Hampden Park.

“My first one I was only 17 and played against a really good Dundee United side and I was in a really good experienced side, and I got a lot of help,” he said.

“At 17 you don’t realise what you’re playing in, the manager put me in and I had a decent game.

“But at that age you’re too young [to know what you're playing in] and thankfully I did it. It wasn’t until later on at Celtic that you know what’s involved. I don’t know how many I won [two more with Celtic], but it was nice to do it.”

Does the modern player have the same interest in the cup, particularly when promotion is very much the primary aim as it is for Town this season?

“I think so,” he reflected. “If we can get through this tie, then the big guns come into it and it would be great for this football club to play a Liverpool or Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham or someone like that.

“It would be great to get a big scalp. Even all the teams in the Premier League, that’s me doing everybody else an injustice, all the teams are up there on merit, and whoever we get if we did get through would be great.

“Any Premier League team, if we did get drawn with them, would be great because it would show the lads what’s on the other side of the coin.”

Moving on to Coventry, Lambert said: “It’s a good team playing in a good stadium, St Andrew’s is a nice stadium. We’ll go and try and do what we always do and try and go and win.”

Asked if it’s difficult to prepare for the match not knowing the strength of the team that Coventry will field - the Sky Blues made four changes for their 2-0 first-round victory at Colchester - Lambert added: “You can only concentrate on yourself and what you’re going to go with. You can see little bits of what they’ve done and try and implement your game plan.

“We’ll take great support, our stadium is absolutely buzzing at the minute, the atmosphere in the stadium is great, the crowd are coming back and they will go up there in their numbers again. So it’s a helluva big swing from what it was a year ago.”

Asked whether the league match between the sides the following week, again at St Andrew’s, is more important for both teams, Lambert said: “Every game is important. As I said before, we’ll try and get through it and I don’t think about next week because this one is the most important [at the moment].”

One thing Lambert, whose side has won only one of their last five in all competitions, drawing three, desperately wants to avoid is the game not being settled in the 90 minutes.

“I don’t want a replay, that’s for sure," he admitted. "If we can get it done and we go through then great.”

As usual, second-guessing a Lambert cup team is all but impossible. In goal, the Blues boss could stick with Tuesday’s penalty hero Tomas Holy but equally he might start Will Norris, who he revealed could be recalled by Wolves in January earlier this afternoon.

It is possible that Town could stick with the 3-5-2 utilised against Wycombe with Coventry also having used that system recently, however, Lambert may instead opt for the 4-3-3 formation which started at Lincoln in the replay.

Toto Nsiala seems certain to start at centre-half with one of James Wilson or Luke Woolfenden with skipper Luke Chambers not having featured in the cups since the Carabao Cup exit at Luton in August.

Myles Kenlock would be the left-back with Gwion Edwards at right-back with Janoi Donacien unlikely to be involved as he is the only senior out-and-out right-back following Kane Vincent-Young’s injury.

In midfield, Lambert seems likely to recall Andre Dozzell, while Flynn Downes could return having been ill for the Wycombe game but having been back in training later in the week.

“Flynn has had a virus but he trained this morning," Lambet said. "He’s another one we will have to look at before I decide on the squad and the team.”

Emyr Huws could also continue having played 82 minutes against the Chairboys but it seems likely Cole Skuse and Jon Nolan will be rested. Youngsters Brett McGavin and Idris El Mizouni are alternatives for a midfield role.

Up front, Lambert suggested James Norwood was unlikely to play so soon after Tuesday’s match at his press conference, despite the former Tranmere man being suspended for the league game against Coventry, so it seems likely that Will Keane will be the lone central striker.

Alan Judge and Anthony Georgiou could be the widemen, although Armando Dobra may also hope for his first start since the initial tie against Lincoln.

Jordan Roberts could be among the subs having returned to action with the U23s earlier in the week following his toe injury.

For the Sky Blues, who are unbeaten in their last eight in all competitions, winning four, striker Max Biamou is expected to return having been banned for the last three League One games for a red card.

Another frontman Matty Godden - joint-top scorer with Amadou Bakayoko with four - remains sidelined with a knee injury, while Wesley Jobello, Jodi Jones (both ACL) and Josh Pask (ankle) are all also out.

Coventry manager Mark Robins says the Blues will present a stern challenge for his team, who are currently fifth in League One, five points behind Town having played one game more.

“It’s a game against a top side, a team that’s got strength in depth and come down from the Championship and they will pose a tough test for us, but a game we can look forward to,” he told the Sky Blues official site.

“We’ve got them twice in a week so that’s something else to throw into the mix and in between that we’ve got a Leasing.com Trophy game against MK Dons away on Tuesday night which is obviously a quick turnaround.

“So, do you apportion the significance to each game, which is difficult to do because they’re all important, so we’ve got to look at ourselves and try and do what we can to get through to the third round because it’s a big thing for us.

“There’s a lot of considerations, you look at the games in quick succession, you do something different in this game as to the next one but I think ultimately we have to do what’s right for us without worrying too much about the opponent but being respectful of what they are.”

He added: “They’re a really good strong side with good players in the team. You look at their strengths and their press is as good as anything that we’ve seen in this division.

“I think the players that they have like Kayden Jackson and James Norwood and Will Keane up front, they’ve got a lot of players in there who are outstanding and that’s just the forwards.

“Luke Chambers has been in there for a long time and is a really experienced centre-half, young Woolfenden’s come in and they’ve got a strong unit, Cole Skuse in the midfield, they’ve got a lot of players who’ve played in the Championship for a long time and I think there are threats in their side.

“He’s also got two XIs, he played different sides in the FA Cup last time and it’ll be interesting to see because I think Norwood’s suspended for our league game, he got his fifth booking the other day but we have to cross that bridge when we come to it.

“They’ve got a game in the Leasing.com Trophy [at Peterborough] on Wednesday as well so it’s an interesting game and it’s been an interesting week leading up to this game because there are a lot of things to think about.

“Going into it you’re solely focused on getting through, on the performance and what we can do to cause them problems and try and minimise the problems they can cause you but they’re a really good side and they’ve caused a lot of teams a lot of problems this year and we expect a tough game.”

Coventry have a good record at their adopted home this season, winning seven of their 10 league games at St Andrew's, drawing two and losing just the once, a 1-0 loss to Tranmere last month, the only one of their three defeats in all competitions to have been at home.

The last time Town failed to make round three of the FA Cup was in the 1955/56 season when they were defeated 3-1 away by Peterborough United at the first-round stage.

The draw for round three will take place at the Etihad Stadium on Monday 2nd December at 7pm live on BBC Two and the iPlayer when former Arsenal captain Tony Adams and ex-Manchester City defender Micah Richards will be pulling the balls from the bowl.

Town have a good record against Coventry over the years, winning 37 games (35 in the league), losing 22 times (20) and with 23 matches (22) ending in draws.

The Blues and Coventry have never previously met in the FA Cup, although they have drawn one another in the League Cup on four occasions, most recently in 2000 when the Blues won 2-1 at Portman Road, and once in the Simod Cup.

The teams last met at the Ricoh Arena in the Championship in February 2012 when Michael Chopra’s last-gasp winner saw Paul Jewell’s Blues to a dramatic 3-2 victory.

Town went ahead through a deflected Jay Emmanuel-Thomas shot but allowed the home side back into the game before the break via a Sammy Clingan penalty and Gary Deegan.

However, in the second half Chopra followed up Lee Martin’s penalty to equalise, then clinched all three points at the death.

Earlier that season, at Portman Road in September 2011, Town got back to winning ways with a comfortable 3-0 live Sky victory over the Sky Blues.

A Martin Cranie own goal opened the scoring in the first half with Keith Andrews adding the second soon after and Jason Scotland sealing it after the break.

Sunday’s referee is Anthony Backhouse from Cumbria, who has shown 46 yellow cards and two red in 14 games so far this season.

Backhouse’s only previous Town game was the 2-0 defeat at Stoke last season in which he replaced the referee who had started the match, Geoff Eltringham, in the 39th minute and showed yellow cards to Gwion Edwards and Potters’ full-back Erik Pieters.

Squad from: Holy, Norris, Wright, Edwards, Donacien, Garbutt, Kenlock, Chambers, Wilson, Woolfenden, Nsiala, Skuse, McGavin, Huws, Hughes, Nolan, Downes, Dozzell, Rowe, Georgiou, Judge, Dobra, Jackson, Norwood, Keane, Roberts.

Photo: TWTD

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hoppy added 18:20 - Nov 29
Pick a side that is set up with the intention of going through then. Simples.

cornishblu added 20:13 - Nov 29
I remember when we used to eat one of the Big teams

Those were the days

Blue041273 added 21:50 - Nov 29
In truth we have never been an FA cup side. Three semi finals and one final all in the SBR era represents meagre success in our otherwise illustrious history! It was 1971/1972 before we even made the 5th round! Counter these ‘achievements’ with the catalogue of cup humiliations over the years and it is clear that we have massively underperformed in cup games and not just recently either!

Skip73 added 21:58 - Nov 29
Play the first team then. They've had enough rest.

Steve_ITFC_Sweden added 06:17 - Nov 30
Yes indeed! It would be great!

shakytown added 06:31 - Nov 30
Play 2 up front and at least have the intent to win.

PMK added 09:25 - Nov 30
Laughable comment given his and the clubs approach to cup competitions in recent history.

MedwayTractor added 11:23 - Nov 30
A correction for blue04123. We reached the fifth round in 1959, losing 5-2 at home to Luton (who got to the final, losing to Nottm Forest) and in 1967 against Man City, drawing 1-1 away and losing the replay 3-0 at home.

BoonyBoy25 added 11:28 - Nov 30
drawing a big team that means he is going to put the 1st team in then surely.

Blue041273 added 11:44 - Nov 30
I hold my hands up to your superior knowledge. Was not aware of (or had forgotten) those records!

Razor added 11:49 - Nov 30
Try and look and sound as though you are actually interested-----if Nozza had been sharper and more match fit he would probably have scored on Tuesday----just a hint!!

BlueBadger added 14:24 - Nov 30
An Ipswich manager dreaming of getting into the third round of the FA cup. What a time to be alive.

TimmyH added 15:01 - Nov 30
What's the bets we play almost an identical side to what we played Lincoln with (bar the odd player).

muccletonjoe added 17:33 - Nov 30
Another 9 or 10 changes.
But it's all working wonderfully this rotation system
How dare they mention it will be one win in 6 if we lose.

harlingblue added 02:41 - Dec 1
PL please pick a team to WIN this game, and then we can at least be in the 3rd Round draw, which is about our normal exit of this competition. The supporters that you have worked so hard to return and back the club, deserve this.
After dropping points in two HOME League games and losing top spot, support might start to waver, games in hand mean nothing unless they are won.
Win your home games, draw away is the normal mantra to win a league, but in this case just win this FA Cup game.

juniorblue added 08:40 - Dec 1
Maybe I am old fashioned but there is something about the FA Cup that is very special. Although promotion back to the Championship is the priority, a good FA Cup run would also do wonders for everyone involved. My heart sinks a bit when I think about team selection for this game. I am of the opinion that playing the majority of games is best for most footballers, in terms of sharpness and understanding of their team mates. I don't think we have seen the best of Norwood yet, who I hope 'comes good' for us. I just wish that PL would select the best 11 for each game, rather than change the system/players on a game to game basis.
Best of luck for today and hats off to our travelling supporters. COYB!

dukey44 added 10:11 - Dec 1
When people say play the 1st team... Do we even or does lambert know who's in the 1st or 2nd team? As we never play a settled team anyway?

Kickingblock added 10:26 - Dec 1
Good luck to the chosen 11.
Please ditch the pretty boots for shooting boots!
This is also a reconnaissance match for next Saturday.

thechangingman added 10:37 - Dec 1
Look. I am NOT trying to be negative/cynical, but I am struggling with this one...
Do I always want Town to win? Of course I do!
Would it therefore be good to get into the third round? Yes, I suppose so...
Are you therefore rooting for Town today? Um, yes, but, um...

The thing is, if we're honest, we all know Town just aren't really good at the moment. Even in League One, we're struggling to look impressive. Therefore, I find myself thinking, "What's the point of winning cup-games, that'll distract from our already-difficult league battles?"
Therefore, all things said, I think we should just quietly bow out of the cup, and concentrate on the league. After what we've seen so far this season, it's not a foregone conclusion we'll be going up. Even worse than this is the other truth that if we do somehow get promoted, what kind of season would we have in the Championship with this squad, and this manager?

Okay. Now I've written it, I'll hunker down for the potential claims that I am negative, or don't support the team.

I can assure you I do, and have done so for a VERY long time. It's just all so very disappointing and painful at the moment, and I wondered whether airing my concerns would be cathartic.

Let's see, eh?


ITFCsince73 added 13:19 - Dec 1
Reading some of the above, it’s clear some supporters need to understand.
2 points a game gets automatic promotion. Into December we go, still in automatic promotion place. And still on target with the 2 points a game. And in 2 cup competitions.

How can anyone say the rotation isn’t working???

harlingblue added 17:57 - Dec 1
ITFCsince73, if I understand you correctly, I presume that you are averaging home and away games to equal 2 points per game? We therefore need the TEAM and Manager to make Portman Road a fortress, as The Town Supporters have. Two home draws on the bounce in the League and a constantly changed team and formation is frustrating for the supporters and is not conducive to cohesive teamwork.Imho

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