Roper Reports will endeavour to make sense of the recent happenings at North End and offer general comment on the world of Football.
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Up for the Cup
Wednesday 4th December 2013
A break from the rigours of the League programme this week as we take on Wycombe Wanderers in round two of the FA Cup. Not the most glamorous of ties but what are people looking for in the first two rounds of the cup? Surely the idea is to get an easy as possible path into round three and then get the Prayer Mat out for a bit of luck with the balls. We have history with Wycombe, of course, in knock out football as the Chairboys beat us 4-2 in the League Two play-off final in 1994 – amazingly nearly 20 years ago. It was Wycombe's first season in the league expertly guided by Martin O'Neil.
Saturday's game sees North End as clear favourites for the game being 20 odd places higher in the football league ladder but as everybody knows the FA Cup is a great leveller and the game at Adams Park on Saturday is not likely to be a pushover. The match itself will see former North End start Gareth Ainsworth in the opposing dugout with "Wild Thing" still regarded as one of the most popular Preston players of the last 25 years. Ainsworth's route to goal was direct and uncompromising pushing the ball past the defender and then charging to the by line to whip a cross over. No doubt Gareth will get a warm response from the travelling fans and on that note, this is a game where it is difficult to assess how many will travel to Buckinghamshire for this tie. North End have a fair contingent of support in the Home Counties and with probably 250 – 300 travelling from Preston I would guess the away following would be somewhere around 500.
The rest from a hectic league programme will no doubt come as a relief to Simon Grayson and his team with one or two injuries and suspensions occurring perhaps this is an opportunity to give some players who have been on the fringe a little bit of match time. I think Paul Huntington, Joel Byrom and Iain Hume will certainly fall into that category and perhaps the manager will see fit to give Stucky another game between the sticks. We leave the league programme, temporarily at least, with the league table looking rather healthy as we sit third with 37 point from nineteen games. This is almost the magical two points per game and if we carry on at that rate we will be right on the automatic promotion threshold. I fully expect Wolves to be up there but surely the winter will tell on the Orient squad and although there are teams hot on our heels, I think an automatic place is still up there for grabs.