Tuffley Rovers will start 2020 with one of the shortest away trips possible, as they make the 2½ mile trip to face Gloucestershire County League side Hardwicke in the GFA Challenge Trophy, although they are hoping it will be third time lucky for the tie, which was twice postponed in the weeks before Christmas.
In the event that the 2nd Round tie does go ahead, a depleted Rovers squad will be facing a number of familiar faces, as the opposition squad includes a number of former Tuffley players, including Glenn Gittins, Kieran Squires, Steve Bick, Kieran Tracey, Jordan Dowdeswell and Niall Morgan.
Manager Mark Pritchett is anticipating a tough game, with the winners already aware of their potential opposition in the next round, and isn’t making any excuses in relation to the squad he has available, with the Rovers boss himself unavailable as he serves the final match of a three game suspension.
“It is a difficult tie for us, as all local derbies tend to be, and a lot of the players know each other very well”, he confirmed. “I’m really looking forward to the game; we know we want to do well in the cup competitions this season and we’ve already secured a quarter-final place in the Floodlit Cup, so this is another competition we are looking to advance in.”
Rovers are without Pritchett, Warren Mann and Dom Kent on Saturday, all three serving suspensions, whilst both Liam Wright and Adam Bloomfield are cup-tied. With Joe Shutt struggling to recover from a groin injury picked up against Lydney Town last weekend, Pritchett could find his numbers stretched. However, Sam Hill and Luke Merchant should return to the squad travelling to Green Lane.
The winners of the tie will face AFC Bitton or Almondsbury in the 3rd round of the competition, with that tie scheduled to take place in two weeks’ time. The Rovers manager is expecting a tough contest for whoever progresses.
“Whoever takes their place in the next round will have a very difficult tie, which will be a real test of their ambitions to do well in this competition”, Pritchett added. “We had a great result against Lydney Town last week and need to build on that, hopefully adding to the clean sheet we achieved, which was only our second of the season.”
The action at Green Lane will kick-off at 2pm.