Both Nottingham Forest and Mansfield Town are in FA Cup action this weekend as the third round of the famous old competition starts tonight, all be it largely covid-hit, as Aston Villa host Liverpool as the Birmingham based outfit are reduced to playing U23 players due to a number of their first team staff testing positive for coronavirus.
Whilst the likes of Villa and Derby will be playing ‘kids’ against their respective opponents (Liverpool & Chorley) due to many of their playing and coaching staff in isolation this week, Shrewsbury Town have called their match with Lincoln City off on Saturday with similar issues, no such problems at the City Ground though as Nottingham Forest host Cardiff City in a match to progress to round four.
All week the Reds have played clips of famous third round ties in recent years, including the 5-0 win against West Ham United in 2014 and the stunning 4-2 victory over Arsenal three years ago, a repeat of either score line would do Chris Hughton very nicely as the club look to reap some much needed prize funds with a potential big TV game in round four also on the cards.
A Manager that has often seen the cup as a chance to change things around within his squad, it is likely that Hughton will do the same as he did previously with the likes of Newcastle and Brighton and rest players against the Bluebirds as his bigger vision is to keep Nottingham Forest in the Championship this season, but with players having a point to prove, a one-off knockout match offers great incentive for those picked who do well to become permanent fixtures in the Managers starting eleven.
Hughton, who won the cup twice as a player for Tottenham Hotspur in the 80’s and reached a semi final with Brighton in 2019, said “This competition has a special place for me, as a player, a coach and as a manager. The feel of the cup is always there, we all know the circumstances this season are very different to other seasons because of no supporters and a different general feel, but whenever the FA Cup comes around there is that little spark and that is through everybody.”
Ahead of the match he said “We are probably, with regards to form, going into it a bit different, but we all know that in one-off games that can go quickly out of the window. We have a strong reason for wanting to win the game and so have they.”
Mansfield Town are in action on Sunday and they face Cheltenham Town at Whaddon Road in a tricky looking tie against fellow League Two opposition.
Nigel Clough himself, has a good record in the competition, once taking League One Sheffield United to the semi-finals.
The Stags will be keen to progress, like Forest, for a more lucrative tie in the fourth round whilst the cup may not be priority this year, it may be a nice side distraction to give stay at home fans something to cheer about away from more concerning league matters where every point counts.
To watch Mansfield at Cheltenham this weekend you’ll have to subscribe to the FA Player which is a free account found here. Kick off is 1:30pm on Sunday.
To watch Nottingham Forest verses Cardiff City on Saturday you’ll need BT Sports. Kick off at the City Ground is 12pm.
*Main image @NFFC the City Ground this week as the Reds players trained ahead of Saturday’s Cup match.