It’s the FA Cup 3rd round today, a time when fans can start dreaming of a day out at Wembley in May. We’ve already had two rounds out of the way of course, but today the big boys from the Championship and Premier League join the party and the focus is purely on the cup. Back in November we chose a team to follow and that team has managed to make it this far without being knocked out.
In the last round I was unsure whether Luton could repeat their 1st round success of knocking out a League Two team but they once again pulled off a bit of a shock and beat Rotherham in a replay. The first game had seen a 2-2 draw before Luton convincingly won the rematch at Kenilworth Road 3-0. Adam Newton set them on their way in the seventh minute and further goals from Alan White and Claude Gnakpa earned the Hatters a lucrative third round tie.
Their reward for progress is an altogether stiffer test. Having dealt with the best League Two has to offer, they now find themselves with an away game at League One side Southampton. Much like Luton, Southampton have had their fair share of financial problems in recent times and points deductions have seen them slip down to League One, where they currently occupy a mid-table position. The financial issues came despite selling plenty of good young players like Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale.
The two teams would have both been meeting in the top flight as recently as 1992 but the last match between them came in the Championship four seasons ago in 2007. Looking through Southampton’s current squad they have plenty of recognisable players. Club captain is goalkeeper Kelvin Davis who had a shocking season between the sticks for Sunderland in 2005/06 – he also played for Luton between 1995-99.
Ex-Reading captain Graeme Murty is there, as is ex-Spurs defender Chris Perry. Well travelled striker David Connolly is now at St.Mary’s as is Radhi Jaïdi and Polish striker Marek Saganowski. All in all some experienced pros to complement key players like Rickie Lambert, who has banged in 17 league goals this season, and Adam Lallana who has nine.
Every round I keep saying Luton will do well to get through, and both times so far they’ve surprised me. Southampton’s recent form is a bit patchy with two defeats in the last three but they’ve been beaten just twice at home in the league. As mentioned, Southampton have some familiar names but they’ll expect the aforementioned Lambert and Lallana to get the goals to see them through.
Luton have lost just once in the last ten but new striker Matthew Barnes-Homer is cup-tied. They’ll once again hope that the likes of Kevin Gallen and Tom Craddock can inspire them to another cup shock.
Tags: 3rd round, barnes-homer, david connelly, FA Cup, Gareth Bale, giantkiller, graeme murty, kelvin davis, kevin gallen, luton, rickie lambert, road to wembleu, saganowski, southampton, theo walcott, wembley stadium