Sutton United boss Paul Doswell knows his team are underdogs for tonight’s third round replay at AFC Wimbledon, but hopes age-old Emirates FA Cup magic proves the leveller.
The National League side held the Dons of League One to a goalless draw in the original meeting where Gander Green Lane was packed to the rafters.
The key chances in that tie fell either side of half-time to Sutton’s French striker Maxime Biamou, but he was denied by the frame of the goal and then keeper James Shea.
Wimbledon v Sutton United
- The Emirates FA Cup
- Third Round Replay
- 7.45pm, Tuesday 17 January 2017
- The Cherry Red Records Stadium
Doswell acknowledges their best opportunity to make it through to round four, and a home clash with Leeds United, has been and gone, but retains hope that his charges can still be swept over the line.
“We’re up against a League One team, with better players and nine times out of 10 Wimbledon will win,” Doswell said.
“The only reason to have hope is because it’s called the FA Cup.
“We know we are massive underdogs but we have got a chance.
“I compare it to the Championship play-off final and getting in the Premier League.
“We are up almost £200,000 from the Cup run and that would take us to £500,000 if we beat Wimbledon, which is beyond our wildest dreams.”
Sutton rotated their squad for Saturday’s Buildbase FA Trophy second round tie with Worthing, but have a full complement to choose from tonight including former Arsenal youngsters Craig Eastmond and Jeffrey Monakana, as well as defender Jamie Collins who reached the FA Cup fourth round with Havant & Waterlooville in 2008, before losing to Liverpool at Anfield.
Wimbledon have concerns over the fitness of defenders Jonathan Meades and George Francomb, midfielder Tom Beere and striker Andy Barcham.
If manager Neal Ardley was under any illusions that his tie was only important to Sutton, he is put right almost everywhere he turns.
The 44-year-old, former England Under-21 international, though, believes his players can get the job done, but must remain calm to do so.
“We have a lot of expectation on us and that can cause anxiety. My job is to make sure that is not there,” Ardley said.
“No one can think that AFC Wimbledon are immune to an upset. We have to make sure that does not happen and we are going to need everyone to be behind us in that.
“Everyone is talking about the tie locally. If I am down the shops or down the street, they are all excited about it. The fact that so many people want to come to the second game and it is likely to be a sell-out is fantastic.
“Sutton fans will still believe they can, so we need to make sure we bring our A game.”