Rochdale take up arms to end lengthy wait
Saturday 17 May 2008
While the rest of the country tune into Wembley for this afternoon's 127th FA Cup final, four sides meet either side of the showpiece match, vying for the opportunity to follow Portsmouth and Cardiff to the famous stadium and earn a place in League One next season.
Darlington take a slender 2-1 lead to Rochdale in the lunchtime kick-off and midfielder Neil Wainwright has insisted the Quakers will not take anything for granted. "We know how good Rochdale are at home and they are going to come out all firing on all cylinders," he said. "We'll certainly not get complacent, that's for sure."
David Stockdale should shake off an ankle injury to take his place in goal, although Ryan Valentine and Tommy Wright [both knee] and Ben Parker [hamstring] remain doubts for Dave Penney's side.
Rochdale hope to end a 34-year stay in the bottom tier of the Football League. Dale defender Nathan Stanton returns after missing the first leg through suspension, although James Spencer [hernia] and Sam Russell [finger] remain on the sidelines.
Lee Thorpe also misses out, after breaking his arm while arm-wrestling team-mate Rene Howe on the way to last weekend's match at the Darlington Arena. "Everyone on the bus heard the snap, it was that loud," striker Chris Dagnall said.
In the evening kick-off, Stockport hope to make home advantage count when they host Wycombe Wanderers at Edgeley Park, with the tie level at 1-1 after Sunday's bad-tempered first leg.
A number of robust challenges led to jostling between backroom staff in the dugouts at Adams Park, with Wycombe midfielder Sergio Torres admitting he went over the top in a challenge on Stockport's Tommy Rowe.
"I don't know why I did a tackle like that, it wasn't like me and I apologised to the player afterwards," the Argentine said. "There were a few bad tackles but everyone wants to play at Wembley. We want to win, they want to win and I think it will be a very attacking game of football to be involved in."
The Stockport manager, Jim Gannon, remains confident his side will progress in front of their home support. "The footballers we have are strong enough to stand up to any physical battle," he said.
"We'll stick to our principles and certainly don't want the game to get into a battle. But we have to be resilient if it gets physical and then get the ball down and play our own game."
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