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Match preview Vs Sunderland    FA Cup 4th rd

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Date: 25-01-14gif Venue: Stadium of Lightgif Kick off: 15:00hrs

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The Harriers face their biggest game in years when we journey up to Premiership side Sunderland in the 4th round of this seasons FA Cup tournament.  We have played a number of big sides in this contest in years gone by with a trip to Coventry City being our last one in January 2009 when City were a struggling Championship side.  Before that we have come up against Wolves at Aggborough, followed by a replay, in 2004 and previous to that we had that storming run in 1994 when we took on, and beat, Birmingham City and Preston North End before finally losing out to Premier side West Ham by a solitary goal.  That game against the Hammers was probably our biggest ever game in the size of the club and the excitement surrounding it.

Now exactly twenty years on we have another game that is generating excitement on a similar level as that one and the worlds press is flocking to the Aggborough door.  Double spread pages in most of the red tops and also in the more 'intellectual' rags have seen photographs and stories about the team splashed across their pages and one newspaper are also having their logo emblazoned across the back of the commemorative shirt that has been produced for the occasion.

Freddie Ladapo To get this far we will have played more sides than our opponents tomorrow.  The nil they have played shades in comparison to the four teams, Bradford PA, Sutton Utd, Newport County and Peterborough, we have had to get past to get this far.  It's hard to realise that we struggled terribly to beat Bradford in a replay at Aggborough that went into extra time before Marvin Johnsons goal put paid to the impressive part timers.  If you had asked a Harriers fan after that game where we would have been playing tomorrow he would have said, without compunction, at home to Macclesfield in a league game because if you had suggested Sunderland he'd have called for the men in white coats to deal with you.

In fact if you had asked the same question following the draw at home to Peterborough a few weeks back, when we then faced a daunting trip to London Road for a replay, you would have been met with the same blank stare.  Instead we went there and did the business big style to set ourselves up nicely for this.

On Wednesday evening Sunderland had another Cup game to play and this one was against a more famous side than the Harriers, but only slightly more.  They went to Old Trafford in the semi final, 2nd leg, of the Capital One Cup (League Cup to us peasants) with a 2-1 lead from the first game and took the mid table club to extra time where they scored a last minute goal that should have won them the game only for United to grab a last second goal and send the game to penalties.  Luckily (kind of) for the Black Cats they managed to convert one more than Uniteds two and book their place in the Final against Man City.

Because of that marathon game the Sunderland manager, Gus Poyet, has stated that he'll be resting most of those that played and will instead play a mix of fringe and regulars against us.  Bear in mind that some of these fringe players will be full internationals in their respective countries and they won't be a walkover.  We'll still need to be at our very, very best.

We should start to be at full strength for this important game with Callum Gittings due back any day now.  We missed him badly in that shocking defeat at home to Dartford the other night, more so than Joe Lolley, and his ability to create stuff in midfield was much needed but it may be a game too soon for him especially as our new manager Andy Thorn has yet to see him play and may not want to change a settled side.

We have, earlier today, bought in a new striker to play up front with Michael Gash?  Freddie Ladapo (left) has arrived on a free transfer from Colchester Utd and has spent time on loan at Woking and Nuneaton.  Apart from that not much more is known about him.  The other new signing Adrian Cieslewicz won't be able to play due to having played in both of Wrexhams FA Cup games against Alfreton and Oxford Utd but the other new lad, Santiago Alonso will.  He should feel at home up there with Sunderland having a brace of Argentinians in their side with one also named Santiago.  Also cup tied for us is returning loanee Ryan Rowe.

So it's off to the Stadium of Light we go and what can we hope to expect from the game?

I think every true Red would want to see us go there and put in a good shift and hopefully come back with our passage into the 5th round decided there and then and, if not, then a replay at the Stadium on the Hill would be a brilliant second best and also a superb chance to appear as the televised game on Tuesday 4th February.  We would just have to hope that Man City v Watford, Arsenal v Coventry or Wigan v Palace don't end up drawn because we wouldn't stand an earthly then.  What interest would a Kidderminster Harriers v Sunderland replay hold for the television companies?

The other option would be that we could still put in that good shift but not be quite good enough to get a result.  As long as the lads did us proud we would be happy just as long as it doesn't end as disappointing as that Coventry game did.



Photo © CUFC


Teams:

Harriers from:
Lewis, N Vaughan, L Vaughan, Dunkley, Demetriou, Gowling, Dyer, Storer, Fowler, Jackman, Angus, Byrne, M Johnson, Malbon, Morgan-Smith, Aloi, Riis, Gittings, Gash, Ladapo.

Sunderland from:
Pickford, Mannone, Ustari, Bardsley, Dossena, Ki Sung-Yueng, Brown, Larsson, Gardner, Fletcher, A Johnson, Celustka, Colback, O'Shea, Altidore, Karlsson, Diakité, Ba, Giaccherini, Cuéllar, Vergini, Alonso, Roberge, Borini, Cattermole, Mavrias, Watmore.

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No previous games against Sunderland





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