They say that in the FA Cup, form goes out of the window. Lowly teams become giants and legends are made. Accrington Stanley weren’t granted a headline-grabbing second round tie, but the game did its utmost to live up to the history of the magical competition.
Our last meeting with Oxford United was a profoundly disappointing affair ending up in a 5-0 loss. The cup game was a chance for redemption as much as the cash prize to boost the coffers.
We began with a disadvantage as our player-of-the-season so far – affable ‘keeper Ian Dunbavin -sustained season-threatening injury in training. Bavo has had his ups and downs in an eventful career but has been nothing short of exceptional this season. All Stanley fans will hope he can get fit sooner than expected.
An uphill battle was faced before we even took to the field and Leam Richardson did all he could to remedy the situation; the gaffer’s Yorkshire connections were exercised once more as nomadic stopper Paul Rachubka came in on emergency loan.
A cold, hard pitch awaited the players. Attackers revelled while defenders struggled and a goal-fest ensued. Oxford drew first blood after finding fault on the flank before Craig Lindfield levelled with a point-blank execution. James Beattie on returning to the starting eleven rose to the occasion and struck one of the finest shots ever seen on the Crown Ground to take the Reds ahead. After the U’s pegged back once more, Lee Molyneux expertly converted a free kick and Stanley had only minutes to see out a memorable victory. The tired Stanley backline faltered once more however and a replay was ordered through a simple headed goal which should have been prevented.
Going away to Oxford next Wednesday will be a huge test of character and skill. A home tie against Beattie’s former suitors Sheffield United is the prize for a win which ought to spur the players on.
First though is an old grudge match from the non-league days. Sunday’s trip to Burton has to be the priority in order to improve our league position. Only after that can we dare to dream.
On, Stanley, On.