It’s round two with Walsall in round two of this season’s Emirates FA Cup competition on Saturday as the sides go up against each other once again, just a fortnight after they traded blows in league action here at Brunton Park.
A tight affair which ended goalless, it gave the combatants an opportunity to size each other up as they now lock horns for the right to progress into the potentially lucrative third round draw.
But as to whether or not the previous meeting will have any bearing on what happens at the Bescot this weekend, manager Paul Simpson said: “I’m going to give you the really obvious answer, I’ll tell you at 5pm on Saturday.
“I really don’t know. I think we’ve both tested each other out, and I can’t say about Walsall, but I know we can play better than we did in the league meeting.
“I was disappointed to only get a point because I wanted us to score. I thought we should have scored with the chances we carved out. We had a couple of set plays which should have been put away, so that’s something we need to do better this weekend.
“I want us to play better as a team than we did in that particular game and if we do, I’m sure we’ll give ourselves a chance of going through.”
“I don’t think I have to mention the next round to the players,” he added. “I don’t have to use that as incentive because everybody knows what’s at stake.
“It’s really obvious what you can get if you go through. Everybody is aware of that because it’s when the big boys come into it.
“We want to go and compete in this competition so we have to deal with this one properly, which isn’t going to be easy, and if we do that we’ll take whatever comes in the next stage.
“I think it’s an FA Cup game and we all know you’ve got to win and get through it, simple as that. We’re going to go there to win it.
“I always say that in football you can have two types of motivation – either the intrinsic motivation where it comes from within that you just desperately want to win, or you want the extrinsic rewards that go with it.
“Being involved in a glamour third-round tie, getting the bonuses that go with winning FA Cup games, whatever rocks your boat I don’t really care, so long as they go out and give us a good performance.
“My motivation is to get us through to the next round, because I want to be in the hat. I want to go and compete against whoever it might be, and I don’t even sit here and think I want a massive tie away from home.
“I don’t dream of going to Old Trafford or the Etihad, I dream about getting as far as we can in the FA Cup. If it can be a third, fourth, fifth round, whatever, go and create a bit of history for our football club.
“I’m also not deluded, I know we have a really tough game to get through in the second round, but if we can do that we’ll be ok.”
And, as ever in a game like this, if you can’t win it, don’t lose it.
“I’m really looking forward to this next run of games where it’s Saturday-Saturday and we’re not having to worry about quick preparations and recoveries for midweek games,” he commented. “We have room to manoeuvre so if we can’t win I’ll gladly take a replay.
“That would bring them back to Brunton Park a couple of weeks later and I would gladly have a fixture that week. This weekend is about finding a way to get a result. If it’s not a win, then a draw so we have a second bite at it.
“Look, if you stay in the competition as long as you possibly can, and in games as long as you possibly can, that’s when anything can happen.
“We saw the other day that you’ve got a Saudi guy who goes and has a great bit of skill before smashing one in the top corner. Who really cares, it doesn’t matter how you get through.
“It’s always about getting the result and this weekend will be one of those games where I say to the players, find a way. Find a way to win the game because if you’re in the third round nobody really cares how you got there.”
Taking a closer look at the opponent, he said: “They’re hard to beat. They’re on a very good run, I think it might be five unbeaten, and to go to Wycombe in the last round and win, that’s no mean feat.
“That shows they’re doing things properly. We don’t expect there to be many changes, unless they’re having problems like we’re having with injuries, so it’s another good game to look forward to.
“We know they’re a big, strong, well-organised and very physical side. As I always say, it’s about us, it’s about how we go about it.
“I just hope we can carry on in the way we finished that game last weekend, because if we do, I’m quite sure we’ll give them some problems.
“We’ll respect them, we know what their threats are, but we also know we can be a threat if we play the way that we’re capable of.
“I’ve just got a final decision to make on what our shape is, how we go about it, whether we change it or keep the same. We had slightly different shape against them when we played them at home compared with the Salford game.
“It’s a decision that I’ll confirm between now and 3pm on Saturday and hopefully the players are able to go and execute whatever plan we have.”
And despite the shadow of an ongoing World Cup, it’s still a competition that holds its own sense of magic.
“Certainly for me it does, and I would imagine it does for all League One and Two clubs, and for those from non-league sides that are still in it,” he agreed. “It’s really disappointing that the World Cup is going on during our season, but there are better people than me who have debated the rights and wrongs of that.
“This is a good weekend for us and we’ve got to make it an even better weekend by getting a good result.
“It’s a club I know because of my loan spell there as a player. I really enjoyed it. It was a really good club, with the old owner Jeff Bonser. I needed to get out of Wolves because I needed to play football.
“The loan got cut short when Mark McGhee lost his job and Colin Lee called me back, but I enjoyed it. At the end of that season they got themselves promoted, so it’s a good football club.
“They’ve got a decent fanbase, I always like the ground, it’s a real tight atmosphere, good place to go, and I had really good memories there.
“I remember going there with Man City in an FA Cup game and scoring a couple of goals in the snow. We’ll have plenty of fans again, I didn’t know that we were expecting 500 or so, that’s an incredible number.
“Walsall isn’t an easy journey, that M6 is a long way when you’re going from here on the day, so credit to them. I’m quite sure they’ll make the noise and as I always say, we have to make sure we do something to make sure they’re smiling at the end.”