Leyton Orient v AFC Telford: Gavin Cowan has the big decisions to make
Formations, systems, patterns of play and, of course, personnel.
These are just some of the things that will be flying around Gavin Cowan’s head ahead of the biggest game of his managerial career tomorrow, writes Jonny Drury.
Thirty years on from the Bucks’ last FA Trophy success, they can almost smell Wembley.
But in their path couldn’t be a tougher opponent.
Leyton Orient are non-league’s top side, and that is a fact, after they rose to the summit of the National League by beating Wrexham on Saturday.
It is as stern a test as Cowan’s overperforming Telford heroes have faced all campaign, and they are going to have to be at it.
Last Saturday most will see as a blip. Telford took FC United too lightly and got punished, but that won’t be the case this time.
Many would have looked to have cemented their place with a top performance in the game, but some have maybe gone the other way as Cowan alluded to in his post-match interview.
He was always going to have selection headaches, but he may have a few more now after that one.
There are only a few players I think who will be nailed on to start in the first leg at Brisbane Road.
The goalkeeper situation is still up in the air, but if Andy Wycherley is given the all clear he will start between the sticks.
Barring injury in training this week, Ross White, Theo Streete and Shane Sutton will make up the back three.
Aside from that I think the 100 per cent starters are Ellis Deeney, Ryan Barnett and Daniel Udoh.
The other places are very much up for grabs in my eyes.
I’m sure Cowan has an XI nailed down and a system nailed down.
The 3-4-1-2 is a formation that the Bucks know, they’re used to it and it works for them.
The system may change because of the opposition being top drawer in non-league terms, but they went with one up and dropped two back against Stockport a few weeks back, but despite a narrow 3-2 scoreline it didn’t really work. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
The machine faltered last week, but a bit of oil and water and it will be back on track.
On Saturday, Jon Royle is likely to return, offering a big presence in midfield alongside Ellis Deeney.
Brendon Daniels has stuttered in form recently, and Steph Morley will be fresh after two games of rest so he looks set to return on the left.
Udoh is sure to be partnered by Amari Morgan-Smith, and that leaves the number 10.
A few questions have been raised over Darryl Knights’ impact in recent weeks.
But in these games, where you need to pick the lock, thread the needle, he is the man to do it.
A big performance from him at Orient, and the Bucks could be on to a winner.
It would be easy to go compact, solid and change system for this one.
Cowan will have done his homework, it would have begun long ago and I am sure he would snap your hand off for a draw to take back to the New Bucks Head.
But attacking on the front foot has helped the Bucks hit the headlines this year. Taking the game to the non-league’s top side could help them do that again.