AFC Telford v Leamington: Brakes no longer underdogs
AFC Telford United are out to make it back-to-back home wins as they face Leamington – a side Gavin Cowan is tired of hearing are underdogs.
The Brakes did very well in the eyes of many to stay in National League North last season, writes Joe Edwards.
They are currently 12th and, given their modest budget, Paul Holleran is seen to be doing a great job – and Cowan agrees, so much so he considers them an established side in the division, not a team punching above their weight.
“I’m tired of hearing about Leamington being the underdogs and overachieving,” said Cowan.
“They’ve been at this level now for a good couple of years and they’re a good team at this level.
“They’re not an overachieving team. They’re a good team and they’ll pose us a tough test.
“It’ll be hard work to go and beat them, but I’m sure if we put everything together and the stars align, we do what we know we can do, we’ve got a very good chance.”
The Bucks drew 2-2 in the reverse fixture at the New Windmill Ground back in August. Telford won 3-2 against them at the New Bucks Head last season.
Leamington are making the trip with some familiar faces. Forwards Anthony Dwyer and Jordan Murphy both played for the Bucks last campaign, while midfielders Kieran Dunbar and Callum Gittings have also had spells in Shropshire.
On if those players will be looking forward to the clash just a little bit more, Cowan said: “I’m sure they’ll be keen to impress their manager.
“They ain’t going to be worried about impressing me, they’ll be worried about impressing him.
“I’m also set out to make sure they don’t impress. This is going to be another tough game.
“Whether they’re in the team or not, it’s going to be a tough game.
“We’re preparing in the right way. We’ve trained, been meticulous and done things properly.
“We’ll work hard and be ready for Leamington on Saturday afternoon.”
Daniel Udoh, who is thought to have turned down a move to Leamington in the summer, after impressing on loan there last term, is expected to start again for Cowan’s charges.
He opened the scoring in the 3-1 triumph against rock-bottom Nuneaton Borough on New Year’s Day, taking his goal tally for the campaign to 15 in all competitions.
Cowan has to decide whether to stick with Amari Morgan-Smith alongside Udoh or bring Andre Brown, who scored in the reverse fixture against the Brakes, into the starting line-up.
Jon Royle was the man of the match against Nuneaton so is also expected to remain in the XI, but Cowan has hinted a couple of players may be brought back in.
Midfielders James McQuilkin and Henry Cowans were unused substitutes on Boxing Day, and the Bucks chief says he is ‘going to need to them’ for this encounter.
“I’ve got James McQuilkin and Henry Cowans now who are fresh,” added Cowan.
“That’s really important for me, going into the Leamington game. We’re going to need them lads.”
Skipper Shane Sutton is suspended for a match after his red card at Chester last weekend.