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Brentford – No excuses - 06/01/2003

   Derby County

When the draw was made for the third round tie, the first thing you think about is that we don’t want to be on the end of a cup exit. You looked at Brentford’s league position and knew they’d be playing with confidence and that with a home draw, they’d fancy themselves. So we can’t say we weren’t expecting a tough game – really, we’ve no excuses!

Put simply, we were not good enough on the day to avoid the upset. In this sort of game, the first goal is massive, and although we started quite well, we didn’t take our chances. If we’d taken a chance, then you’d expect a First Division team to go and outplay the Second Division team. Their confidence would have been hit and we may have gone on to have had a comfortable afternoon. Of course, the opposite happened, the goal gave them heart and further belief, and they progress to the fourth round!

Yes, we had our injury problems and with Rob Lee, Danny Higginbotham , Chris Riggott and Craig Burley all out, it was obvious that we’d miss them. A word must also be said for Lee Holmes, who at the age 15 made FA Cup history as the youngest ever player to appear in the competition. He's the youngest player to appear for Derby County and now the youngest-ever to appear in a proper round of the FA Cup.

The Cup competitions haven’t been good for us, and although we can joke team’s beginning with ‘B’ have a jinx over us, it’s not a laughing matter. In my Newcastle days it was Stevenage who gave us a bit of a shock – it was also a bit of a PR nightmare for the club. After Newcastle wanted the game switching to St. James, the Stevenage Chairman, manager, and players all came out and said Newcastle were running scared. After a 1-1 draw at their place, we eventually finished them off at home, but it wasn’t the most convincing of performances. There were other shocks in the third round, and I believe they’ll be more in the fourth. Although the magic of the FA Cup is made from upsets, it’s a sickener to be on the wrong side. We’ve got to put the game behind us and focus on the league, we face Gillingham on Saturday, and we’re after the points.

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