English FA Cup
January 15, 2013
Cherries look to pick up a shock
Bournemouth's players will take the field in their FA Cup third-round replay against Wigan tomorrow looking to make history.
A cup upset against Roberto Martinez's men would not only set up a trip to Blue Square Premier outfit Macclesfield in the fourth round, it would also extend the npower League One side's unbeaten run to 19 games - breaking a 31-year club record.
In 1982 Dave Webb, assisted by Harry Redknapp, managed the Cherries to promotion thanks to an 18-game unbeaten streak which the team of 2013 equalled with a 1-1 draw at home to Swindon on Saturday.
It means they have failed to taste defeat since Eddie Howe returned from Burnley to manage the club for the second time back in October. And until their recent run of three successive draws the Cherries had won 12 of those 15 games.
That form has rocketed them from 21st place into the promotion picture and set up this replay with Wigan in front of a full house at the Goldsands Stadium.
The first meeting between the sides earlier this month saw Eunan O'Kane's sensational strike cancelled out by Jordi Gomez but there was little to suggest it was a cup tie between teams separated by two divisions.
And defender Tommy Elphick is relishing the chance to cross swords with their Barclays Premier League opponents once again.
"We are on a high and playing with real confidence at the moment and won't be expected to win, so there's no pressure on us,'' he told the club's official website.
"The last few games have taken a lot out of us but it's always a great experience to play against a Premier League team.
"We've got a winning mentality and all the lads will want to prove themselves against a top team.''
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez remains unrepentant about his team selection for cup matches as he continues to prioritise surviving in the Barclays Premier League.
Since his arrival in the summer of 2009 Martinez has progressed past the fourth round of any knockout competition just once, with the Latics going on to lose to Arsenal in the quarter-finals of the 2010-11 Carling Cup.
Wigan's six other cup appearances under the Spaniard have seen them fail to get past the fourth round and, in the FA Cup, two of the previous three seasons have seen them exit to npower League One sides Notts County and Swindon, who were in League Two at the time.
The fact Martinez makes significant changes for cup competitions and plays youngsters goes some way to explaining their results.
"In my eyes they are strong players or they wouldn't be with us,'' he said.
"It is all good for me to say I want to look at the youth, give opportunities to the young players and create a path to the develop the youngsters if I am not going to be brave enough to give them opportunities.
"I want to create something special at the football club where we can develop our youngsters.
"In the last game against Bournemouth we saw the debut of Roman Golobart, who has been on a three-year programme.
"He was sent on loan to Inverness in the Scottish Premier League and he has come back stronger - there are some youngsters that deserve that opportunity.
"If we don't win, I will take that responsibility but I will never be shy of giving youngsters opportunities and making sure that we are producing our own players.
"I think it is important you share the demands and progressing in the cup is as important as winning football games.
"Sometimes it can be unfair to put a youngster out in the Premier League when they are not ready because the gap between Under-21 football and the first team is huge.
"Sometime having a competition in between, which is vital to win because we want to win in every competition, is something that as a club and a manager we need to be brave enough to give youngsters opportunities.''