Marcus Braddock looks ahead to the Emirates FA
It's Emirates FA Cup time again with Town facing Potteries giants Stoke City in the third round at Montgomery Waters Meadow. The Potters are a Championship team after last season’s relegation from the Premier League and it seems to be a bit of a shock to the system judging by their mid-table position. Former Burton, Birmingham and Derby coach Gary Rowett took the reins at the Victoria Ground ready for the start of the season and has since seen his players get 8 wins eleven draws and seven defeats. Current form is a little patchy with just three wins in their last ten league games and just one in their last five. Their last away win was back in late October when a clean sheet and a Darren Fletcher goal was enough to beat Bristol Rovers.
Form (most recent result first.)
Benek Afobe 6
Tom Ince 6
Joe Allen 5
James McClean 5
Joe Allen 4
Sam Clucas 3
Six at home and four away.
Stoke have won 15% of their away games in the league this season and 50% of their cup games although this only amounts to 2 games in the League Cup, the first a win at home to Huddersfield and the second a defeat at Notts Forest.
The Potters have conceded the most away goals in the final fifteen minutes of the first half with five conceded. The second half of away games has been the most productive with 67% of their goals scored. They've also conceded exactly the same amount of goals over the same time period which counts for 56%.
The Referee - David Webb from Lancashire. Games this season: 20. Yellow cards: 53. Red cards: 1.
Gary Rowett appears to have a spot of illness in the camp with both Ryan Shawcross and ex-Town midfielder Ryan woods suffering. They may yet be fit for the weekend but Joe Allen looks likely to miss out after a recent knock.
Town will be without Fejiri Okenabirhie after two yellow cards in the F.A. Cup and Shaun Whalley is still out of contention following a hamstring injury.
This game may have had a little more spice last season with City still in the top flight and with us at the top end of the table. Having said that, we had West Ham at home this time last season and Stoke were dumped out by League One Coventry. The season before that Stoke lost to Wolves and we didn't make it to the third round so neither team has a recent history beyond this round. As things stand, Stoke are not enjoying a rich vein of away form and we've not been too bad at home so there is a chance of a Town win this weekend but we'll have to work hard for it as Stoke have some excellent footballers and wont be beaten without a fight. A look at the Potters away form makes me wonder if a draw may be on the cards as they've drawn eight times away from home this season. A win by either team may be the preferred result with so much football yet to be played and I think we may be able to squeeze a result out of this one if we play at our best.