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Cloughie legend comes to Boro

Farnborough Town chief Graham Westley believes his side are in "perfect shape" in time for the visit of Nigel Clough's Burton Albion in the FA Trophy fourth round on Saturday.

THE Clough legend makes its way into town tomorrow but that will not deter Boro boss Graham Westley from achieving his goal — a place in the last 16 place of the FA Trophy.

Boro sense a real chance of glory in the competition this season, though they must first dispatch high-flying Unibond Leaguers Burton Albion, a side managed by ex-Nottingham Forest and Liverpool star Nigel Clough — son, of course, of the charismatic Brian.

Clough junior is likely to be orchestrating matters from the pitch tomorrow, having played much of the season before being sidelined over the Christmas period. He returned from an injury over the Christmas period to play in the final 20 minutes against Marine last week and is expected to line up from the start against Boro.

"He is an opponent I have never come up against," said Westley. "I've never played against Clough and don't know how difficult an opponent he is though it's more about all the 11 players on the pitch."

Clough has become an adopted son of Burton since joining the club three years ago. He has built a decent free-scoring team that this season taken them within sight of Conference football.

Two runners-up finishes in the Doc Martens led to the club switching leagues to the Unibond set-up where they currently hold a nine-point lead.

It is a false lead, however, with teams behind them having games in hand and the league race is likely to go to the wire.

All the more reason to suggest that the Trophy is not the highest of priorities for the visitors, despite their strong tradition in the competition.

Not that Boro will be taking their visitors lightly. Westley said: "We can't assume that a side will not treat a competition seriously.

"Burton are a solid side with good attacking options though they do have weaknesses we will be looking to exploit. They will be wanting to prove themselves against a Conference side and will be up for it."

Burton have a proud record to live up to in this competition. They were finalists in 1987, losing out in a replay to Kidderminster, while last year they reached the last eight following wins at Scarborough and at home to Yeovil.

Christian Moore missed a penalty as Albion eventually lost in front of TV cameras at Hereford to a single goal.

Striker Moore is Albion's record signing, a £17,500 buy from Ilkeston and is currently the club's top scorer with 15 and with skipper Darren Stride chipping in with 13 from midfield, the visitors have plenty to offer in attack.

Another man to watch is Darren Wassall, an experienced former Derby centre-half who Clough played with when at Nottingham Forest.

The bad news for Boro, however, is that skipper Steve Watson will not be lining up against them. He is suspended along with Joff Vansittart and Dean Green, though Westley is looking forward to the clash.

Westley added: "For us at the moment it is simply a case of winning football matches. We are in good nick, our concentration is good and we will be up for the challenge that Burton will provide. I will probably play the side that would've started against Barnet last week. Having the weekend off last week will have benefited the boys, while Burton had a difficult game on a muddy pitch."

Watson, echoed his boss' words: "We are preparing well and have had some good training sessions this week. It will be good game because they are top of their league. But they are a lower side than us and we have got to go out and show them that. If we get it right on the day we can beat anybody.

"The boys are looking forward to it as we feel we could go all the way in the Trophy which is a good ground to build on for the future. The trophy is exciting but we are still going to push for the highest place we can in the league.

"It is all about consistency. We have got some good players here, but I think Graham (Westley) wants to add to the squad to strengthen it a bit."

Centre-back Barry Laker added: "This is one trophy we can win and really get our teeth into this year. Trying to finish as high as we can in the league and win the trophy are our two aims for the season. It's a nice change to play in cup games, but we don't change our training for them.

"It will be a really good game and hopefully one for everyone to remember."

Boro invited Brian Clough to be Guest of Honour at tomorrow's FA Trophy tie, though they have yet to receive a reply.

If the match ends in a draw, a replay will be held at Eaton Park next Tuesday, ko 7.45pm. If Boro progress, news of the fifth round draw will be in Tuesday's Mail.

The Conference game between Boro and Hereford United has been re-arranged for Tuesday March 12, ko 7.45pm.

Boro keeper Steve Farrelly undergoes a minor operation on his knee today (Friday). Farrelly has made just one appearance since mid-October.

A strong and experienced Boro XI crashed out of the Aldershot Senior Cup on Tuesday, going down 2-1 at Combined Counties League neighbours Ash United.

Former Boro favourite and Ash player/manager Jamie Horton netted the opener before Scott Joyce made it 2-0 a quarter of an hour later.

Rocky Baptiste bagged a late consolation for Boro.

See inside page for full report.

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