Norwich City step into the unknown

PUBLISHED: 09:52 26 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:39 10 September 2010

Paulton Rovers in action against Bideford in an earlier round.

Paulton Rovers in action against Bideford in an earlier round.

Chris Lakey

Norwich City's FA Cup opponents Paulton Rovers will begin talks today over the staging of the biggest match in their history. The Canaries were paired with the genuine minnows of this year's competition in yesterday's first round draw.

Norwich City's FA Cup opponents Paulton Rovers will begin talks today over the staging of the biggest match in their history.

The Canaries were paired with the genuine minnows of this year's competition in yesterday's first round draw.

Rovers - based 13 miles outside Bristol - play in the Zameretto League Division One South and West, a step up from Ridgeons League football and five tiers below City.

But of immediate concern is their home ground at Winterfield Road, where the biggest attendance is believed to be the 2,000 who saw them play Crewe in 1906 - a figure the Canaries could match in travelling fans alone.

Rovers officials will meet with police and local authorities this week to see whether they can make the most of home advantage or if they have to switch to the nearest suitable venue, which is Bath City's Twerton Park, where the capacity is 8,800.

The match is due to be played on the weekend of November 7/8 and there is a strong possibility it could be chosen as the live TV game, but the host club has until a week on Wednesday to sort out their arrangements.

Rovers manager Andrew Jones admitted he was pinching himself at the thought of his minnows taking on a club which has reached the FA Cup semi-finals on three occasions.

“I still can't believe it, it's an incredible draw,” he said. “It is one of the biggest games we could have got and we are at home so we could not have asked for anything more.

“It is one of those things you dream about and you hope that one day you will get a taste of that dream.

“This game will be a life-changing experience for the players and the club.”

Canaries boss Paul Lambert admits he is stepping into the unknown.

“It's a first for me as a manager,” he said. “I didn't play non-league sides when I was at Wycombe or Colchester, so it's a challenge I will be looking forward to as well, as I'm sure all the players will be.

“We don't know very much about Paulton Rovers so we'll be doing our homework and preparing for the cup tie as we would any game in the league or the cup. If you take people for granted in this competition you tend to get punished for it, so we will make sure we go into the game properly prepared.

“The FA Cup is a wonderful and prestigious competition and like I've said before if you're in a competition then you might as well go and try to win it.

“Maybe the big guns aren't in it yet, but you have to win your way through to earn the chance to play against them and that's the reality of where we are. We want to do well in the FA Cup if we can, that's for sure.”

Jones and his Paulton players watched the draw together live on television at the club's ground and he added: “There was a big cheer when we came out of the hat at home. Then there was a ginormous cheer when Norwich came out.

“We have been earmarked by Sky TV as one of their live games and we are having a meeting with the FA tomorrow to ensure we can host the tie. We definitely want to hold it here and we don't see any problems.”

Lowestoft Town replay against Gloucester City tomorrow night at Crown Meadow (7.45pm) after a last-gasp equaliser by Gary McGee on Saturday - and the reward is a trip to Conference Premier side Wrexham.

“It's exciting,” said Town's joint manager Micky Chapman. “Wrexham are a massive club with a lot of history.”

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