David Moyes takes his side to Whaddon Road for a potential banana skin tie with Cheltenham Town on Monday night. With the competition his best chance of silverware this season he will be looking to avoid a similar fate from ten years ago.
The FA Cup this weekend as always delivered many upsets, close-calls and Premier League exits. Newcastle United were dumped out by Brighton, Wolves were sent packing by Luton Town while Matthew Barnes-Homer put paid to Cardiff City as Macclesfield advanced to the fourth round.
There is just one game left to be played in the third round and it sees an intriguing tie between Everton and Cheltenham Town at Whaddon Road. On paper it should be an easy victory for The Toffees but a trip down memory lane to a decade ago will give David Moyes men all the trepidation they need to avoid a cup upset.
On January 4th 2003 the venue was Gay Meadow and the lower league opposition was Shrewsbury Town. Managed by former Everton skipper and club legend Kevin Ratcliffe the unfancied side went out and dominated the game. If it was not for a superb performance by Richard Wright in the Everton goal than the likes of Luke Rodgers and Ian Woan would also have seen their names on the scoresheet. However it was a double from Nigel Jemson that did the trick in what is now one of the most memorable FA Cup upsets in recent history.
That was Moyes first ever FA Cup tie as Everton boss and he did not take it lightly. The likes of Alan Stubbs, David Weir, Thomas Gravesen and a young Wayne Rooney all featured; and toiled in defeat.
The comparisons with their opposition on Monday night are evident. Same lower league standing and similar stadia. These factors will keep Moyes on his toes ahead of the fixture; as well as causing slight flashbacks to that fateful day.
There are no survivors from that Everton side still playing in the team ahead of this tie. In fact the only connection you can make from the current Everton troupe and that fixture is with Phil Jagielka; his brother Stephen came on in the 81st minute for The Shrews on that occasion.
In David Moyes eyes he will hope that is exactly where the connection between this fixture and that one ends. The Scotsman is desperate to win silverware to finally add gloss to his sensational career on Merseyside and in recent years the FA Cup has been a haven for Everton and remains their best chance of success this year after an early exit from the League Cup.
Cheltenham Town certainly have some quality; the likes of Darren Carter and Alan Bennett are punching below their weight in League Two so Everton should be wary of being over-confident ahead of this tie.
David Moyes will certainly be reminding his players of what happened when they took fourth tier opposition for granted a decade ago.
Can Cheltenham Town spring a Shrewsbury Town like upset?
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