GARY ROBERTS heads to Darlington for tonight’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie insisting motivation won’t be a problem for Town.
With the credit crunch biting particularly hard in the North-East and the average League II crowd running at 2,896, spectators are likely to be rattling around the 25,000-capacity Darlington Arena, where the second-round clash kicks off at 7.45.
But Roberts, whose team will be backed by at least 200 fans, says the incentive of taking a step closer to playing in front of a far bigger crowd in the Wembley final means he and his teammates will be fully focused on the task at hand.
“Ask any Englishman where he’d most like to play football, and Wembley will probably be the answer,” said the 24-year-old, who scored his fourth goal for the club in Saturday’s 3-2 home defeat by League II leaders Leicester City.
“There’s a long way to go yet, and Darlington will have the same idea about getting to the final as us, but this is a match we badly want to win.
“It’s not just a case of making progress in this competition either, because we know a win tonight could have a knock-on effect in the league and give us a real boost before we go to Swindon on Saturday.
“I think we deserved better against both Oldham (where Town drew 1-1) and Leicester, and if we can produce the same intensity tonight, we should be okay.”
The only Town players ruled out are midfielder Ian Craney, who picked up a hamstring problem on Saturday and is awaiting a scan, and striker Andy Booth, who sees a back specialist on Thursday.
Manager Stan Ternent, who has Derby County’s permission to play loan striker Liam Dickinson, says he will field a strong side, explaining: “It’s our most realistic chance of getting to a cup final and it’s a match we’re taking seriously.
“There are areas we can improve on, but I’ve been fairly pleased with our last two performances, and I don’t think we’ve had our just rewards.
“Darlington are a decent side with a good stadium and a good manager in Dave Penney, and I’m sure they’d see Huddersfield Town as a good scalp.
“We’ll have to be on our mettle, but we’ve prepared for the game properly and we’re going there to win.”
Saturday’s hosts Swindon are in JPT action at Hereford tonight, when ties go straight to penalties if the scores are level after 90 minutes.