Gill aware of FA Cup pitfalls

David Cuffley Matthew Gill has more reason than most to be wary of Norwich City's FA Cup first round opponents - after being on the wrong end of a shock result at the same stage last season.

David Cuffley

Matthew Gill has more reason than most to be wary of Norwich City's FA Cup first round opponents - after being on the wrong end of a shock result at the same stage last season.

The 28-year-old midfielder was in the Exeter City side beaten 3-2 by relative unknowns Curzon Ashton a year ago.

To make matters worse, Gill was shown the red card in the final minute of the first round match against the UniBond League Division One North side at Ashton-under-Lyne.

So with the Canaries visiting village side Paulton Rovers - from the Zamaretto League Division One South and West - in next Saturday's televised tie, the fit-again summer signing knows the potential pitfalls of taking on unfancied opposition.

Norfolk-born Gill, who joined City from Exeter in June, knows what to expect from their trip to the West Country.

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He said: “I was with some friends when the draw was made and my wife rang and told me we'd be heading back down to Bristol way, so yes, it's a great draw for them - but we need to go down there and be as professional as we can.

“The FA Cup is brilliant. It's an unbelievable trophy to be in. But we didn't do too well in it last year. We went out to a low-ranked side, Curzon Ashton - if anyone hasn't heard of them, you have now.

“So you have to be professional in those games and make sure you get through. That's the most important thing - to be in that second round draw.”

Gill will be celebrating his 29th birthday the day after the Paulton game, and his chances of being involved in the tie are improving as he continues his recovery from a knee injury.

He was on the bench for the last two League One matches, appearing briefly at Leeds, and was expected at least to be among the substitutes again for today's game at Stockport County, after completing a full match for City Reserves in their 1-1 draw at Ipswich in midweek.

He said: “I'm getting fitter by the day. I had my first 90 minutes against Ipswich on Wednesday, which was good. My lungs felt OK. I'm working as hard as I can to get as fit as I can as quick as I can. Only time will tell, I suppose.

“I've been in full training three or four weeks. It's been good to be back with the lads. The lads have been doing very well so it's been a great atmosphere to get back involved in, so I'm pleased to be making steady progress.”

Gill even admitted that he had filled in at right-back on occasions, with manager Paul Lambert considering his options for today's game in the absence of injured trio Jon Otsemobor, Michael Spillane and George Francomb.

“I can and I have done in the past but I'm sure the manager's got something in his mind for what he's going to do,” said Gill. “But who knows?

“You ask any player, they'll just be happy to play wherever possible, especially when the team is doing so well at the minute. Everyone wants to be part of that, so any player would like to be in that side at the moment.”

The defeat at Leeds, when he appeared in stoppage time as a substitute for Stephen Hughes, had not damaged morale in the squad, said Gill, as proved by last week's 1-0 home win against Swindon.

“I don't think the confidence went at all. We proved to everyone that we were a very good team, we went to a team at the top of the league and probably had the majority of the play, and dominated big chunks of that game so the confidence never left us at all,” he said.

“Since I've been back I've noticed how confident the lads are and going on a winning run and not losing games creates that, so it's good to be back part of it.”

City's next four opponents, starting with Stockport today, were all in the bottom five of League One this morning.

“You can't take any teams lightly in this league or in any competition but we've got a good run of games coming up and we need to make sure we're coming out with wins in them,” said Gill.

“I felt from the start of the season - and I still think it now - we're a massive club in this league and with the set of players there is at this club we should go into every game thinking we're going to win it.”