Football: Marlow to meet manager's old club

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Oxford United, who caused one of the shocks of last year's FA Cup when they eliminated Leeds in an Elland Road replay, find themselves cast as giants waiting to be slain in this season's competition.

Relegated from the First Division last year in spite of reaching the fifth round, Oxford were assigned a trip to Marlow in yesterday's first- round draw, a tie which gives the former Oxford striker, Peter Foley, now managing the Diadora League club, a dream opportunity.

'We've been joking that we would probably draw Oxford in the Cup ever since Peter arrived in the summer,' the Marlow chairman, Michael Eagleton, said.

'It's fantastic for us, after giving Plymouth a good game last year, and a dream for Peter'.

Marlow, who have faced League opposition in West Bromwich and Tottenham as well as Plymouth in the last three seasons, also have three former Manor Ground players in Peter Rhoades-Brown, Les Phillips and the New Zealand international, Ceri Evans.

Eagleton said that Marlow, who dashed Sutton's hopes of more giant-killing exploits with a 1-0 win in Saturday's fourth qualifying round, would hope to play the tie on their Alfred Davis ground but expects demand to be considerably greater than its 3,000 capacity.

Foley took over as manager from Dave Russell, whose Slough Town side drew the plum tie of the round when they were paired with Birmingham City at home.

Slough were relegated from the GM Vauxhall Conference last season but, under Russell, have established themselves at the top of the Diadora. 'When I was at Marlow,' Russell said, 'we ran up against West Brom when the memory of their defeat against Woking was fresh in their minds and Barry Fry will have learned a lot from going out to Kidderminster.'

Harriers themselves will be fancied to claim another League scalp when they take on Torquay United at the Aggborough ground where they put out Preston last season, following their shock success at Birmingham, and lost only 1-0 to West Ham in the fifth round.

'After last season we will probably be expected to win this one,' Graham Allner, the manager, said. 'But the non- League side will always be the underdog against League opposition.

'In any case, we have to keep our minds on the Conference for the moment. If we beat Gateshead tomorrow we will go third and there are two more important games before the Cup comes round.'

Kidderminster were Conference champions last season, only to be denied a place in the Third Division because they failed to meet ground criteria.

A pounds 450,000 1,100-seat stand is now in place at Aggborough, funded partly by the pounds 150,000 netted from last season's Cup run.

Although the picture is complicated by a number of fourth qualifying round ties needing replays, as many as 24 League clubs may need to be on their guard against headline-making upsets, including Brighton away to Kingstonian and Swansea at Walton and Hersham, conquerors of Brian Clough's Brighton side two decades ago.