Harty on the Albion in the FA Cup

POOR old Gus. When it comes to the FA Cup, he was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t.

From the outset, Poyet had said that, due to a number of issues, last Saturday’s third-round line-up against Wrexham was always going to contain some of the club’s development squad. As it was, the finishing Albion 11 contained probably more than he first intended but the lads certainly gave a good account of themselves.

As did Wrexham, who came to the Amex determined to enjoy their day out, both on and off the field.

The standard of the higher end of non-league football has changed over the years. You can safely say that anyone who wants to do anything in the Conference has to run as a professional full-time club, as both Eastbourne Borough and Lewes both found out when they flirted in the highest non-league division.

Wrexham look a good outfit and, looking at the Conference table, have strong ambitions to return to the Football League, which is why the Albion won’t take them lightly in next Tuesday’s replay at the Racecourse Ground.

The match took on even more significance on Sunday when the balls came out of the velvet bag at Wembley and gave either Albion or their opponents a plum home tie against Newcastle United.

Even before the fourth-round draw,, a replay had its advantages for the Albion – if only for the fact that it used up one of skipper Gordon Greer’s suspended games.

But, with a bumper home tie on offer, and a realistic chance of progressing to the next round, will Gus put the kids out in North Wales next week?

My gut feeling is, while he will certainly use the game to give youngsters all-important experience, the Albion starting 11 will be stronger than it was on Saturday. That will certainly please the small minority of keyboard warriors who, once again, have slated the Albion manager over his FA Cup selection policy.

I’m backing the Albion to run out 3-1 winners and then we can look forward to another cup cracker at the Amex. And, if you believe in fate, the last time we played Newcastle in January in Sussex in the FA Cup, we went to Wembley!

Does the Herald/Gazette make it to West London?

No sooner have I tipped QPR for relegation, then poor old Neil Warnock gets the bullet. Perhaps lightning will strike twice when I say things look very precarious at Old Trafford!

So, Worthing Football Club face the possibility of a blank week next Saturday with the distinct possibility that Croydon Athletic will fold mid-season.

Never mind the global economy, I understand Croydon are not alone and a number of non-league clubs are in dire financial trouble. Some could even follow suit and fold before the season ends.

Hopefully, this will act as a huge wake-up call and non-league football, or, specifically, the clubs who grossly overspend, will see sense and things will return to some kind of normality eventually.

But don’t be surprised to see some established clubs go to the wall first.