Longford Town vs Rovers - Team News
Having guided Cliftonville to League Cup success in Northern Ireland last season, Sligo Rovers boss Ger Lyttle knows all about the thrills and spills of knock-out football, and he’s hoping to bring that experience to bear in the bit-o-red’s tricky assignment against Longford Town in the opening round of the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup at City Calling Stadium tomorrow night.
“Winning the cup with Cliftonville last season was a big achievement, both for the club and for myself as a manager. I enjoy the challenge of one-chance football, which is what the cup is all about. I’m also fully aware of Sligo’s great cup pedigree and the fascination which the FAI Cup holds for our fans, so putting all that together I’m looking forward to the challenge of an extended run, starting tomorrow night,” Lyttle says.
He will have to plan without the suspended Toby Adebayo-Rowling, but is content that he now has the strength in depth in the squad to cover all eventualities.
“Thankfully, we now have options all over the pitch, which is very important as we approach the crucial stage of the season. In this case, there are a few choices to cover Toby’s absence and I’m sure we’ll be ok there,” he reports.
Enjoying a steady season in the first division and with an impressive cup pedigree, Longford will be no pushovers, particularly in front of what will be their biggest crowd of the season. It’s a point not lost on the focused Rovers manager.
“We’ll be regarded as favourites to progress, but there will be no danger of complacency on our part. Neal Fenn is an experienced football man who has given Longford a spark and who will have them well up for the prospect of causing an upset.
“We will not be taking them lightly. We will treat them with the respect they deserve. We’re expecting a really tough match, but we’ve prepared well and we’re going there to win. That’s the mindset. We know there are no second chances in cup football so our total focus is to get the job done,” he maintains.
While the cup provides a welcome break from the ongoing relegation slog, Lyttle’s practical analysis is that it’s merely another game to be won.
He explains: “I honestly don’t have much time for any talk of pressure games. They’re all games to be won, and while we’ve had too many draws in the league. I’m convinced the victories will come sooner rather than later. We’re playing well, it’s coming together as I would want, and we just need those little breaks to fall our way.
“In terms of the cup, I understand the club’s passion for the competition. This is a massive club and, therefore, has every right to be expecting to win trophies. That’s why I came here. So it’s not a pressure, it’s a challenge, and one which myself and the players are fully committed to.
“It would be a great boost for everyone involved to get through to the next round and that’s our intention.”