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Story posted: Friday, 14th January 2005

Tamworth pre-match news
Gresley Rovers manager Gary Norton says that his side have nothing to lose when they travel to face Nationwide Conference club Tamworth in the 3rd round of the FA Trophy (Sat 3pm).
It's the second successive season that the Moatmen have reached this stage of the competition. Last season Norton's men went out to the eventual winners Hednesford Town at Keys park and the Moatmen are looking to try and cause a major upset tomorrow but boss Gary Norton realises that not many people will be giving his underdogs much of a chance.

Norton said: "We have struggled in our last three league games so having a game like this where we are not expected to win might be a good thing for us. The players can go out there in front of a big crowd with no pressure on them other than to make sure they relax, enjoy it and do themselves justice. Regardless of the result on Saturday I'm hoping that playing in a game of this magnitude could kick-start the run of results we desperately need in the league. It's the biggest game of my career so far and it will be the same for a number of our young squad. It's also the biggest game the club has had for a few years so it should be a great occasion all round."

"It's a big ask," added Norton, "but what have we got to lose? We are in a win/win situation in this game. It's a break from the pressure of league action against a Conference side who have in recent weeks beaten the likes of Carlisle and Barnet. Not many people will expect anything other than a convincing Tamworth win but the beauty of this game is that anything could happen. You only have to look back to last weekend when Exeter grabbed a draw at Old Trafford or for Gresley supporters, several years ago when we went up to Southport and nicked a 1-1 draw then a 1-0 win in the replay. They were 4th in the Conference at the time and it proves that anything is possible. We will have to be at the very top of our game though whilst we will hope that maybe Tamworth have an off day."

Norton added: "I'm sure they will be approaching this game in the professional manner that they would any other game and will not take us lightly despite the gulf in level. Indeed they have had us watched which demonstrates the respect they are giving us. What they have achieved in the past two seasons in the Conference is great. Both Darren Gee and now Mark Cooper have done a tremendous job so far and Tamworth are a side that I respect immensely. They are competing most weeks with full time clubs and doing very well at it. They epitomise just what can be done by a part time club and as such give hope to the many clubs that aspire to be where they are now at the top level of non-league football."

In team news, Rovers welcome back former Tamworth legend Dale Belford for his first game in three months after a back operation. The stopper was injured in Rovers FA Cup tie against Hucknall in September and his recovery is almost perfect timing for Rovers. Gavin Saxby's three month loan from Alfreton expired last week, whilst Reserve team keeper James Pemberton went down with chickenpox earlier this week. Pemberton had played the three previous rounds of the Trophy due to Alfreton not wanting Saxby cup tied and was to be considered for Saturday should Belford not be fit. Norton said: "We were going to leave the final decision till late to give Dale as much time as we could. We don't have that luxury now but Dale was confident he would be fit to play early this week prior to Pembo going down with chickenpox. His surgeon said we should target his return in mid January and getting drawn at Tamworth was just the incentive Dale needed to make sure he was fit. He has worked tirelessly to get his back right and ironically he has spent a lot of time both training and receiving treatment at Tamworth from their Physio and Fitness coach Chris Leary.

In other team news Rovers are hoping that top scorer Aaron O'Connor is fit to play after being unable to train last night due to a toe injury. Gary White returns to the side after missing last weekend's defeat against Spalding through injury whilst Andy Simpson returns to the squad after an overseas trip and looks set to replace the suspended Jamie Hood at the back. Chris Freestone is unavailable but Karl Brown joins the squad after completing his return to the Moatmen from Conference North Runcorn. Former keeper Ian Roberts has answered the call and will take a place on the bench as backup to Belford.
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League Position
  Team P GD Pts
10 Highgate United 29 -3 38
11 South Normanton Athletic 26 0 37
12 Worcester City 26 11 36
13 AFC Wulfunians 31 -6 36
14 Coventry Sphinx 25 -19 34
15 Tividale 23 -4 27
16 Haughmond 29 -29 26
17 Racing Club Warwick 24 -29 24
18 Lye Town 28 -31 18
19 Gresley 26 -22 16
20 Selston 25 -38 13

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