Marriott’s Imps showing FA Cup romance is alive and well
Year upon year an array of sources try their damnedest to convince the English footballing public that the famous old FA Cup has lost its appeal.
Once a much-romanticised competition that was treasured by the masses, certain managers and clubs now tend to view ties as an annoyance — something that gets in the way of a hectic league schedule.
But try telling that to former Mildenhall College Academy pupil Adam Marriott, his Lincoln City team-mates and the large travelling faithful when they arrive at The Emirates Stadium on Saturday evening (5.30pm).
It has been a long journey for the non-league Imps, which began back in October with a 2-1 fourth qualifying round replay win over Guiseley.
Altrincham, Oldham Athletic, Ipswich Town, Brighton & Hove Albion and Premier League side Burnley have all been beaten since, setting up the quarter-final clash at 12-time winners Arsenal.
The Gunners have a squad packed with international stars, while Lincoln are the first team from outside the Football League to reach the last eight in 103 years.
On paper it is a mis-match beyond all proportions, but as Marriott is quick to point out, having got this far, anything is possible.
“It really is unbelievable what we have achieved,” the 25-year-old, who will have some school friends in the crowd, told the Journal.
“We have a great team spirit and have gained more confidence with every round we have passed.
“If we played Arsenal 100 times, they would probably beat us 99 times, but there is always that one game. They might be a little low on confidence after recent results and in that respect it might be a good time to play them.
“Still, they have world-class players and it is going to be tough. Just to score there would be amazing.
“Who knows what will happen? Nobody, ourselves included, expected to go this far, so you never know.”
Elbow and knee injuries have prevented the striker from gaining much momentum in recent months, though he has still featured 21 times for the club he joined in the summer from Stevenage.
Realistically, any impact Marriott is able to make against Arsenal is likely to be as a substitute, but as he showed when coming off the bench versus Ipswich in round four to set up the winning goal, the number 10 is capable of being the ace up manager Danny Cowley’s sleeve.
“I have been told the assist (against Ipswich) was a good one. It was nice to play a key role,” added the former Cambridge United and Cambridge City player.
“There have been some injuries this year, but I still feel I have been able to contribute.
“I played for Cambridge City against MK Dons in the FA Cup a few years ago, but this is my biggest match by a long way.
“I did not get on against Burnley and I will probably be on the bench again.
“Hopefully, though, I can get some minutes.”
n The tie will be broadcast on BT