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Taylor: A Great Test for Our Lads
Tuesday, 15th Sep 2020 12:34

Assistant boss Stuart Taylor says Wednesday’s Carabao Cup second-round tie against Premier League new boys Fulham will be a great test for the Town players (KO 7pm).

“It's a cup game, and a cup game has always got a special edge to it, and this one will be no different,” Taylor said.

“It would have been nice if there was a crowd to give that atmosphere and for the supporters to go and enjoy it. That isn't the case and it's not to be, so we have to create our own atmosphere there.

“There's no difference to it in terms of how we want to approach it, there's no difference to it in terms of the outcome that we want, so it's another game for us, and it's a great test for our lads to go and play against players at that level.

“But the outcome we want is to win the game, we want to win every game that we play in.”

Taylor expects Fulham, who were promoted to the top flight having won the play-offs in August, to make changes from the team which lost 3-0 at home to Arsenal in their opening Premier League fixture on Saturday.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, their squad depth is huge,” he said. “I think possibly they might make a few changes from Saturday, but all they're doing is replacing international players with international players, so whatever team they do go with is going to be quality players that are going to come in, which is great for our lads because it gives them a great test.

“We've played two Premier League sides in pre-season, West Ham and Spurs, so it's another great test for the lads to go and play against another Premier League side.

“All players want to play against top players to test themselves and it's a great opportunity to go and learn in the game and gain new experiences.

“And with the way our lads are they are very receptive to learning new things, so I'm quite sure they will get a lot out of the game no matter what team goes out. It's a great exercise for us, and hopefully, we can do enough to win the game.”

He says as a coach he’s not overly concerned about which big-name opposition players are going to be on show at Portman Road: “I'm not really too bothered because when you go into the coaching side of things the players' names and stuff like that, you're looking at how can you go and win the game and how can you pick weaknesses in them and how can we get our strengths to overpower them. You don't get involved in the name sort of things.

“Certainly, they've got an abundance of top players playing for them and for the neutral I think it'll be a good game of football because both teams will look to go and play football and look to get the ball down and play and I think it'll be a good game in that sense.

“We'll go into the game confident, we've got a way that we want to go and play, and we've got every confidence in it so it'll be a good game and we're looking forward to it.”

Taylor has said that there are one or two bumps and bruises in the squad following Sunday’s 2-0 victory over Wigan, so second-guessing the team manager Paul Lambert selects is likely to be harder for this game than it has been for the previous fixtures.

David Cornell could be back in goal having started the previous Carabao Cup tie, the 3-0 home victory over Bristol Rovers, while skipper Luke Chambers and Stephen Ward may again start, although Janoi Donacien and Myles Kenlock will be hoping Lambert looks to rest his veteran full-backs.

James Wilson and Toto Nsiala seem set to continue as the centre-halves with Luke Woolfenden not expected to be ready following his groin problem.

In midfield, Lambert may look at making one or two changes with Jon Nolan, Andre Dozzell and Teddy Bishop having started all three games so far.

Emyr Huws could come in for his first start of the season in place of Dozzell, while Alan Judge could potentially switch into the centre with Bishop dropping to the bench and Nolan appearing likelt to continue.

Whether Flynn Downes, yet to be included in a matchday 18 this season following Crystal Palace’s interest and his subsequent transfer request, is involved in any capacity remains to be seen.

Up front, James Norwood seems likely to be handed his first start of the campaign with Aaron Drinan expected to miss out with the thigh problem he picked up in the first half on Saturday, with Gwion Edwards perhaps wide on the right and Freddie Sears on the left.

With Norwood not yet fully fit, Oli Hawkins is likely to play a part from the bench.

Four of Fulham’s summer signings, French international keeper Alphonse Areola, who joined on loan from PSG, Dutch international right-back Kenny Tete, who signed from Lyon, Gabon international Mario Lemina, who is on loan from Southampton, and Nigerian international wing-back Ola Aina, who came in on loan from Torino, may all be involved against the Blues having missed Saturday’s defeat to Arsenal.

Head coach Scott Parker hinted after that match that they and striker Aleksandar Mitrovic and midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, who both came off the bench against the Gunners, would be involved on Wednesday.

“This game [against Arsenal] came too early for those players - Alphonse, Lemina, the two boys [Tete and Aina] we literally just signed,” Parker said.

“They probably fit into the same category as Mitro[vic]. I’m pleased that he got 30 minutes, along with Anguissa, and on Wednesday we can get some more minutes into these players.”

Parker believes a cup run can be beneficial from a number of perspectives.

“It’s a competition that we respect,” he said. “A good cup run, we know that that can build confidence and momentum.

“And also, at the same time it helps in terms of getting players minutes and getting players up to speed, those who haven’t been with us too long, or haven’t played a lot of football or trained a lot due the circumstances of having such a short pre-season.

“But as much as we want to get minutes into the boys to get them up to speed, we also want to go and win the game. We want to stay in the competition and hopefully be successful in it.

“Winning is the most important thing. Every time you play a football match, you want to win. It’s an opportunity for us to win a game, which is what we plan to do every game this year.

“We understand we’re not going to be able to do that every week, but our ambition is to try and win football matches, so this gives us a good platform to try and do that and then build from it.”

Reflecting on Town, he added: “They’ve got a good manager, an experienced manager in Paul, and a team which has some good young talent in there, mixed with some good experience with the older pros.

“They’ve got all the dynamics to do very well this year. They’re a good side who try and play the right way, so it’s going to be a tough game for us.

“They try and play football, they like to get the ball down. They’ve got technical players, players who like the ball on the floor.

“And like I said, they’ve got a good blend of talented younger players alongside some older, more experienced players in [Luke] Chambers and people like that.”

Historically, the Blues have been victorious on nine occasions in games between the teams (six in the league), Fulham on 12 (11) and with eight (six) games ending in draws.

The Blues and the Cottagers last met in the League Cup in the 1996/97 season when the first leg at Craven Cottage ended 1-1 with the locally-born Simon Milton netting a stunner for Town.

At Portman Road, the Blues ran out 4-2 victors with Alex Mathie scoring twice and Danny Sonner and Steve Sedgley (pen), who also conceded an own goal, once each.

The teams also faced one another in the competition in 1973/74 when initial tie in London ended 2-2 - Trevor Whymark and Clive Woods the Town scorers - and the replay at Portman Road 2-1 to Bobby Robson's side with Colin Harper and Colin Viljoen on target.

The clubs most recently met in the Championship when the Blues were beaten 2-0 at home - Neeskens Kebano and Rui Fonte the scorers - and 4-1 away after Joe Garner had given Town the lead, Jordan Spence having been red-carded in the 54th minute.

Ryan Sessegnon and Aboubakar Kamara each hit a brace for the Whites who went on to win promotion via the play-offs that season.

Former Town midfielder Brian Talbot is the assistant director of football at Craven Cottage, where he briefly played late on in his career.

Whites manager Parker was among those interviewed for the Town job after Mick McCarthy’s departure in the summer of 2018 but didn’t make the short list.

Winger Anthony Knockaert came close to joining the Blues on loan from Leicester in February 2015, however, ultimately opted against the switch.

The winners of the tie, which will go straight to penalties if level at 90 minutes, will face Sheffield Wednesday at home in the third round in a week’s time.

Wednesday’s referee is Dean Whitestone from Northamptonshire, who is taking charge of his first game this season having shown 86 yellow cards and six red in 30 games in 2019/20.

Whitestone’s last Town match was the 1-0 FA Cup third round defeat at Accrington Stanley in January 2019 in which he booked Downes and no one else.

Prior to that he was in charge of the Middlesbrough game at Portman Road in February 2012, which was abandoned after 37 minutes due to a frozen pitch with the score at 0-0.

Earlier that season, Whitestone was in charge of the 2-2 draw at Cardiff City in which he booked two Bluebirds and Michael Chopra and Keith Andrews.

He also refereed the 2-0 home defeat to Plymouth Argyle in March 2010 and the 1-1 draw at Reading in November 2009, keeping his cards in his pocket throughout on both occasions.

In November 2008 he awarded both sides a penalty as Town drew 1-1 at home to Sheffield United, both goals coming from the spot, booking only David Norris and Alan Quinn.

Squad from: Holy, Cornell, Chambers (c), Donacien, Ward, Kenlock, Woolfenden, Nsiala, Wilson, Dozzell, Bishop, Downes, Huws, Nolan, Judge, Edwards, Sears, Hawkins, Norwood.

Photo: TWTD

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Radlett_blue added 15:20 - Sep 15
The League Cup tie in 1973-74 was not two legs. Town went through after a replay.

rfretwell added 15:54 - Sep 15
Well spotted Radlett Blue.

Nthsuffolkblue added 16:42 - Sep 15
We have signed Oli Norwood? Not sure he should be replacing James off the bench though! Presumably that should read Hawkins.

PhilTWTD added 16:55 - Sep 15
Both my errors. Amended. Knew I was going to type Oli Norwood at some point!

KiwiTractor added 21:44 - Sep 15
Cornell didn't play against Rovers in the 1st round did he? Thought he played Arsenal kids...

KiwiBlue2 added 00:40 - Sep 16
I am not concerned about this competition and would be happy to see us bow out on penalties after its tied at the end of 90 minutes.
A line-up of the following could be interesting, although the defense looks a bit shaky but the League is the priority.
Donacien Nsiala Wilson Kenlock
Judge Huws Nolan
Edwards Norwood Sears

Bench: Holy, Chambers, Ward, Bishop, Dozell, Hawkins, plus 1 could be Simpson or Folami. Resting the other starters from Sunday

BeattiesBackPocket added 12:34 - Sep 16
Kiwiblue2 some of us like seeing a cup run. I was there away at Arsenal for the semi a few years back great day out and we made a few quid from that run.

BlueandTruesince82 added 13:29 - Sep 16
A great test, yes minnows Ipswich against might PL Fulham... that statement is a sad indictment of our decline and also our attitude. We have a L1 mentality now. Lowly minnows get to play in the big pond. Lets hope they are not over awed by the bigger boys.

Real Roy of the Rovers stuff. If it were not for the plague we could all make a day of it and bask in the glory of the big time boys comming from the big show the country bumpkins how real football is played.

I'm sure they will be charmed by our twee country ways.

afcfee added 17:13 - Sep 16
Heard Fulham will play the kids I hope we take advantage and go full strength as good to keep momentum and a winnable next round, maybe with a few fans there too

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