LEAM Richardson says there could be few bigger incentives for Accrington Stanley to reach the FA Cup third round than the prospect of a home game with Sheffield United.
Not only would progress in the competition be a money-spinner for the Reds, but the manager would also anticipate a packed Crown Ground for the tie, with plenty of travelling fans piling over the Pennines.
Richardson is refusing to get ahead of himself, however, as first the Reds must overcome the hurdle of their second round replay at Oxford United tonight.
Stanley suffered a 5-0 League Two humbling at the Kassam Stadium in October, in what proved to be former manager Paul Cook’s penultimate game in charge.
They made amends in the initial cup tie, by twice taking the lead in the last 15 minutes, only to be pegged back on both occasions to force the rematch as the game ended 3-3.
Richardson hopes it is third time lucky for his troops tonight.
He said: “We produced a lot more hunger and desire in the cup than our first meeting with them this season.
“Going forward we were a lot more productive and scored some very good goals and we were a little bit more solid at the back, albeit it we did concede three. Individual mistakes took their toll.
“To eradicate them would be a start, and to be a little bit more solid – have more of a solid base to build on – and try to win the game.”
Richardson believes a cup win could help them kick on in the league to improve a run of one win in seven.
“I think any win lifts the place – especially an FA Cup win as big as this potentially could be,” he said.
“It could lift the whole place and then filter on to Saturday (against Wycombe).”
And Richardson hopes to benefit from the wide benefits of an extended run in the competition.
“In the FA Cup the financial side for the club is massive – not just for our club but for most clubs in the bottom divisions because it could take you to very good places and give the club a very good standing for a year or two,” said the Stanley boss.
“And to have the (next) tie at home against Sheffield United it’s a fantastic incentive for the lads. “It’s a very big club, they’ll come and fill the ground hopefully if we get through, and also you’ve got that slight chance of giving them a game of football and progressing beyond the next round as well.”
But the Reds may also be battling the elements as well as the U’s tonight, with concerns that the replay may be frozen off.
The ground staff have placed covers all over the pitch, but with temperatures of minus four deg-rees forecast overnight and highs of just two degrees today, the game could be in jeopardy.
And Richardson revealed they had encountered similar problems in training.
“This time of year it’s difficult,” he said. “We do struggle for areas and facilities as it is and with the weather hitting us like it is on a general basis it is difficult to do the full extent of what you want to work on. But the lads have been good, the management staff have been very hard working in what we do and hopefully we can prepare as best we can to win the game.”