Tuesday night we entertain Marine for a pace in the last 8 of this seasons Integro Northern Premier League Cup. Apart from George Machin’s heroics to win the Cheshire League Cup in 1968, and Bob Mountain’s wondergoal at Barnet to win the Bob Lord Trophy in 1986, Stafford Rangers do not do League Cups.
If you look back at recent Stafford Rangers League Cup history, it does not make very good reading. We have witnessed defeats to sides like Rocester and Bloxwich. In fact, last season’s cup run was one of our best, yet we needed penalties to beat Sutton Coldfield and Alvechurch before bowing out to Coalville. I think the reason that League Cup’s do not feature highly in a club’s interest is summed up by Coalville having to travel midweek to South Shields in a latter round. If we beat Marine then we are getting closer to a potential midweek journey to Scarborough, Marske or Morpeth. Looking back over the current century our wins in the various League Cup competitions (remember the Carthium Cup) are few and far between. Since 2001 we have won only 6 games, Alfreton, Northwich, Romulus, Tividale, Sutton Coldfield and Alvechurch, with 3 of those wins coming with penalty shootouts. We have lost 14 league cup ties, so history shows we may not be looking forward to this next game.
With our history in League Cups, the question is, how serious does Steve Burr look at the game. As a manager he will want to win. But, at what cost. Does he consider the potential financial loss of a long midweek fixture in the next round, or does he keep the current side to build confidence, or does he give valuable playing time to the whole of his squad. Quite a quandary.
Marine visit us as one of the few teams below us in the League lying 20th with 15 points from 18 games. On their travels they have won only once at Lancaster and drawn at Witton and Workington. However, they have had good away cup wins at Scarborough, Brackley and a narrow away defeat at High Flying Salford. Therefore, this game cannot be taken too lightly especially as we need to avenge our 1-0 defeat earlier this season at Rosset Park to a 90th minute penalty, having seen Pezza miss a penalty for us earlier.
Tuesday Nights in December always tend to be cold but come on down to Marston Road and who knows you may go home with a warm glow, and a victory under our belts.
Games played on this date this century (4th December)
2004 Southport H 1-1 Conference North
2012 Buxton H 2-2 Northern Premier League