NORTHAMPTON Town manager Keith Curle insists they won’t take Oxford City lightly in their FA Cup showdown – and reckons their Non-League recruitment proves it.
The Cobblers will be hot favourites going into tomorrow’s night first round clash in front of the BT Sport cameras. After all, Curle’s troops are plying their trade in League One, while the Hoops turn out in National League South, three rungs down the ladder.
However, the former Manchester City and Wolves defender is expecting a tough test under the lights at Marsh Lane and believes it would be unwise for anyone to underestimate Non-League opposition on this FA Cup weekend.
“We are very respectful as a staff and football club – our preparation won’t change in any way, shape or form than if we were playing one of the big boys in League One,” the 56-year-old told The FLP.
“They have a very good manager in David Oldfield, who has experience of the game at all levels, and they will be doing their homework on us. They will try to gain an advantage from their artificial pitch, but the dimensions of the pitch don’t change.
“When I was at Carlisle, we went to St Albans and Junior Morias (now at St Mirren) scored twice for them and soon after got a move to Peterborough, so you can see what the FA Cup can do for players.
“At Northampton, we’ve taken Matty Warburton from Stockport and Ricky Korboa from Carshalton. There is some uncovered talent lower down the pyramid and our recruitment model takes that into account. We cover a lot of games at all levels.”
Opponents City are in the first round for the fourth season in a row and Oldfield is relishing the opportunity to pit his wits against the third tier Cobblers. “It’s a huge test for us, we know what a strong team they are,” said the 52-year-old former Leicester and Luton midfielder.
“They were promoted last season and they are really establishing themselves in League One. We have to make sure we are as organised and as ready to run as we possibly can.
“It’s such a shame our supporters won’t be allowed in the ground on Monday, but it’s still the FA Cup, it still has that feel and that excitement it can bring.
“We’re delighted to be in it and have an opportunity to match ourselves against a really good League One club.”
With supporters not being permitted throughout the EFL so far this season, apart from a bunch of pilot games, lower league clubs have seen their finances take a major hit.
It means an FA Cup run could be even more important than usual this term.
Northampton will pick up a £32,500 live broadcast fee from the first round tie and there is also almost £17,000 on offer to the winners in prize money, plus a place in tomorrow night’s second round draw, which is due to take place before the match.
“Finances are always important and our football club shows good housekeeping to adhere to the salary cap,” said Curle, who led the Cobblers to promotion via the League Two play-offs last term. “We still have room within it.
“We got promoted and we are ambitious to stay in this division and be a force in it, but not if it’s going to put the club in jeopardy.”
Curle has recently added invaluable experience to his squad with the addition of free agent defender Alan Sheehan, 34, and winger Ricky Holmes, 33, the latter returning for a second spell with the Cobblers.
“Both of them had been training with us and their personalities, character and professionalism have added to the group,” he added.
JOHN LYONS / Title Image: PA Images