Reporter: MATTHEW CHAMBERS
Date online: 09 December 2013
A REPLAY victory at Mansfield stands between Athletic and a meeting with Liverpool for a third FA Cup in succession.
And this time, the Premier League side — memorably toppled in the fourth round at Boundary Park last season — already has a ready-made scouting report on their potential rivals.
“I’ve just been texting him, actually,” said Athletic boss Lee Johnson of Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers — who is a regular visitor to first-team and reserves matches to watch his son, Anton.
“He knows more about us than I do!”
The winners of the second-round replay will face Liverpool at Anfield. Remarkably, Mansfield also have a history of facing Rodgers’ men, having lost 2-1 at home in the third round last season as a result of a controversial Luis Suarez goal.
At the next stage, Matt Smith and Athletic did for Liverpool on home soil with a brilliant 3-2 win.
But Athletic fans also have memories of a recent Anfield trip. In January 2012 a superb Robbie Simpson goal gave Athletic a shock lead in the third-round tie before the home side ran out 5-1 winners.
For Johnson, that upcoming replay at Field Mill following Saturday’s disappointing 1-1 home stalemate assumes even greater importance.
“It becomes a monster game at Mansfield now, doesn’t it?” said the Athletic boss. “It is a great draw. It would be fantastic to get there.”
One potential concern for Johnson is the timing of the replay. No date has been confirmed for the Mansfield replay, but if TV screens it the date could be December 16 - two days after a trip to Brentford in League One.
Have Your Say