Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp will continue their defence of the FA Cup this weekend as they make the long journey south to Brighton, having booked their place in the fourth round the hard way.
The Reds needed a replay against Wolves after being held to a 2-2 draw at Anfield, before Harvey Elliott’s goal at Molineux proved enough to see them through. Hoping to join them in the fourth round will be Accrington Stanley manager John Coleman.
The Kirkby-born boss will again lock horns with Luke Garrard of Boreham Wood tonight, a side that enjoyed a giant-killing run last season which ended against Everton at Goodison Park.
Klopp has begrudged the format of the competition since arriving in England from Germany, including the use of replays.
Typically, the Reds used the FA Cup to field some of their fringe players in the early rounds and the friction reached boiling point when Liverpool had a fourth round replay against Shrewsbury Town in 2020.
Coleman’s side will embark on a replay of their own, albeit in home comforts when the National League side travels to the Wham Stadium on Tuesday. He describes replays as a “double-edged sword”.
He exclusively told the ECHO: “It’s a double-edged sword really, it allows teams to go somewhere, try and get a result or get a result at home then go get a big payday for the smaller teams playing the bigger teams.
“Also, if they went straight to penalties after 90 minutes I think you’d see a lot more shocks.”
Stanley host the Wood after Lee Ndlovu’s header in the dying embers cancelled out an early strike from Ryan Astley. But the gulf between the holders of the competition, Liverpool, and Coleman’s side is stark.
A prize pot of £105,000 is on the line for the winner of Tuesday’s clash. The victor of the replay will play either Leeds United at home in the fourth round where the prize money is £120,000.
For a club of Accrington’s stature, they typically don’t have the financial pulling power of fellow League One clubs. Coleman, to his credit, has managed to steer Stanley through the Football League into the third tier despite the odds.
A competition, such as the FA Cup, goes a long way to helping financially.
“The clubs at our level it’s a different perspective because the financial implications for us, it’s massive, makes a big difference,” he added. “For the likes of Ipswich, Derby, and Sheffield Wednesday I don’t think it has the same appeal so from that point of view, you’ve a split league on that.
“We’re a club where we are probably because of the FA Cup, we had a couple of good runs. One when we were in non-league, we managed to beat Huddersfield live on BBC then we went on to beat Bournemouth live on Sky, that generated a lot of money and helped us go full-time.
“Without us going full-time, we certainly wouldn’t have got out of the Conference and we definitely wouldn’t be a Football League club, it’s had a massive impact on our fortunes as a club.”
Premier League clubs enter the competition in the third round, typically played in January, whereas teams lower down the pyramid and in the non-league system begin their quests from August onwards.
The impact of the illustrious club competition is well-known, shown in the recent success at Marine AFC – who ply their trade in the Northern Premier League – after hosting Tottenham Hotspur in January 2021. And the result of a run in the tournament has had a similar success story with the Lancashire-based club where Coleman has had two spells, spanning 22 years collectively.
Liverpool and other clubs in the English top-flight dream of reaching Wembley and lifting the trophy under the famous arch. However, a similar outcome remains a mere fantasy for players lower down the pyramid but they pin their hopes on pushing through the early rounds and setting up a potential date with one of the big hitters.
Boreham Wood were drawn at home against Accrington Stanley, during the draw at Anfield – where both Garrard and Coleman were in attendance.
The 60-year-old described how if it wasn’t for an FA Cup semi-final in 1980 between Liverpool and Arsenal, he wouldn’t be in the dugout on Tuesday night.
“It’s always been special for me because growing up the FA Cup Final was one of the few days where we got seven hours of football, the build-up, it was exciting, you could see a live game – you can see a live game every day of the week now – but that was only special for the FA Cup,” he said.
“Some of the dramatic games, I remember going to watch Liverpool and the three replays against Arsenal. Funnily enough, if they had won the semi-final, I probably wouldn’t be a football manager now because I’d half turned my back on football when I was 18.
“They lost the third replay at Highfield Road and that was enough to get me back playing non-league football, gone on from there, it [FA Cup] has always been thrilling for me, always been exciting watching it.
“I’ve always had some really good times playing in the FA Cup as well at non-league level which is very special for the teams who play the league teams and get a chance to pit their wits.
“I’ve always loved playing in it and it was always a thrill, it’s a sickener when you go out and have to watch oth…