Lambs to the slaughter?

CHRIS LAKEY Peter Grant says he will treat non-league Tamworth with the same respect he would a Premiership side after being drawn away to the Midlands side in the third round of the FA Cup yesterday.


Peter Grant says he will treat non-league Tamworth with the same respect he would a Premiership side after being drawn away to the Midlands side in the third round of the FA Cup yesterday.

The Canaries boss, a loser in last year's final with West Ham, will be hoping it's Lambs to the slaughter when he takes the Canaries to Tamworth next month - but knows the reality could be very different.

“It is always potentially tough for a league side drawn away to non-league opposition and there is absolutely no doubt that Tamworth will be delighted with the draw and up for the occasion,” said Grant.

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“We have to make sure we get our preparations right. As far as I am concerned we will prepare in the same way we would for a Premiership side.

“We will have to be mentally strong and on top of our game. We will watch them as soon as we can. Of course you are always looking for a home tie to come out of the bag, but that is the cup and that is the challenge.”

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The City boss will be venturing into the unknown when he takes the Canaries to the 4,000-capacity Midlands club on the weekend of January 6-7, for a game that has all the trappings and the glamour of the world's oldest knockout competition.

It is a competition which is packed to the brim with tales of glory and agony - as Grant discovered last year when, as assistant to Alan Pardew at Upton Park, he took West Ham to a thrilling final against Liverpool only to see the trophy snatched out of their hands in a penalty shoot-out.

“People talk about whether league competitions are more important than cups, but to me I want to win and do well in every competition, whether it is league or FA Cup,” he said.

“Apart from the game against Norwich, we played Premiership opposition all the way to get to the final last year and I have been involved at the other end of the scale with games while at Bournemouth.

“Every game in the Cup is a test and that is what is exciting for us as a club, to rise to the challenge. The FA Cup is something special.”

It is the first time City have been pitted against non-league opposition in the third round since 1979-80, when they won 3-0 at Yeovil.

The last time City faced opposition from outside the top four divisions was in the 2002-03 season, when they survived an almighty scare to beat Garry Hill's Dagenham & Redbridge 1-0 in a fourth round tie at Carrow Road

Tamworth, managed by Mark Cooper - son of former Leeds and England legend Terry Cooper - earned a place in the draw with a 2-1 win at fellow Conference strugglers Rushden & Diamonds on Saturday.

The Lambs will certainly not be unnerved by Championship opposition - last season in the same stage of the competition, having already disposed of Bournemouth and Hartlepool, they held Stoke to a goalless draw at the Britannia Stadium and were beaten only on penalties at The Lamb when the replay finished 1-1 after extra-time.

Tamworth, one of four non-league clubs left in the competition, and Norwich have never faced each other in a competitive fixture.

City's East Aglian rivals Ipswich travel to either Bury or Chester, who replay tomorrow after drawing 2-2 on Saturday, while Oldham, conquerors of King's Lynn on Friday evening, travel to Wolves.

Paul Ince's Macclesfield, bottom of the league, have been drawn away to champions Chelsea - and the former England man has already begun his preparations with a phone call to Frank Lampard.

While it is a personal high for the Town boss, he admits he is disappointed Jonny Brain, Andrew Teague and Jimmy McNulty will miss the game having all suffered broken legs last week.

Ince said: I'm just delighted for the club, but your first thought is about the lads that got injured and it's a shame they will miss it. But we'll take them down with us and make sure they're a big part of it.

“I've been on the phone to Frank Lampard and the banter has started already.”

The big tie of the round pitched holders Liverpool against Arsenal, with the sides also due to meet in the Carling Cup quarter-finals on December 19.

That was one of three all-Premiership ties, with Manchester United at home to Aston Villa, Blackburn away to Everton and Portsmouth hosting Wigan.

Conference South side Salisbury will host Premiership strugglers Charlton if they come through a tough replay away to Nottingham Forest, the sides having drawn yesterday.

Salisbury boss Nick Holmes said: “We have got a little job to do in 10 days' time (in the replay), it's certainly not going to be easy. We've had a good game today, we need to repeat that in 10 days' time and then we can talk about Charlton.”

Tamworth's reward for beating fellow Conference side Rushden & Diamonds is a home tie against Championship club Norwich at The Lamb.

Hereford were denied the chance to claim another big FA Cup scalp when they were drawn away to either Bristol Rovers or Bournemouth.

They famously upset top-flight Newcastle in 1972 and thrashed League One side Port Vale 4-0 in the second round.

Tottenham, who have won the FA Cup eight times, face a tricky trip to Championship high-flyers Cardiff while Birmingham host Newcastle at St Andrews.

Aldershot or Basingstoke will travel to face League One side Blackpool. Bolton will be wary of being on the wrong end of an upset, with a trip to either Mansfield or Doncaster to come. It will be a busy weekend in Sheffield, with United at home to Swansea while

Wednesday host Manchester City.

Middlesbrough are away to Championship strugglers Hull and Fulham must go to the Walkers Stadium to take on Leicester.

The ties will be played on the weekend of January 6 and 7.

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