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Ward hopes to avoid another cup tie delay

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: January 08, 2014

Bristol Rovers boss John Ward is hoping the FA Cup second-round replay at Crawley Town will beat the weather tonight

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Bristol Rovers boss John Ward is hoping the FA Cup second-round replay at Crawley Town will beat the weather tonight.

Rovers are set to make the trip to Broadfield Stadium for a second time tonight (7.45pm) after the first replay was abandoned because of a waterlogged pitch after 74 minutes on December 18.

The game was rescheduled for Saturday, January 3 – but was postponed because the pitch failed to hold up under the bad weather in Sussex over the last week or so.

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Rovers have been without a game since playing at Rochdale on December 29 and will now have to play a minimum of 24 games in the final 15 weeks of the campaign.

"It has been a bit annoying," said Ward, "but I have learned over the years that you just have to manage the circumstances and prepare in the same way as you always do.

"We'd all like the game at Crawley to be on because the games are mounting up and the days are running out. The last thing we really want is to have to be playing on a Saturday and a Tuesday every week between now and the end of the season.

"That said, the players have returned from a couple of days off over the weekend and are re-energised. They won't mind that we have a strong period of games coming up now because all they want to do is play."

Crawleyissued a statement yesterday insisting they remained "confident" the game will go ahead as planned. Further checks are to be carried out on the Broadfield Stadium pitch this morning following predictions of rainfall overnight, but chief executive Michael Dunford said: "We are confident the game will go ahead.

"There are no guarantees because of the weather, of course, but the forecasts for Wednesday indicate it will be dry and if that is the case we don't envisage any problems. We will have another look at things on Wednesday morning, but as it stands we think the game will be on."

The winners of tonight's game will face Birmingham City at St Andrews in the third round next Tuesday to determine who will eventually host Premier League side Swansea City.

"It is all very hypothetical at the minute," said Ward. "We'll be trying to beat Crawley, they'll be trying to beat us. The winners will go to Birmingham next Tuesday night and that is all that is certain at the moment."

The two sides have failed to score a goal in the one and a bit games they have managed to complete so far.

Ward added: "John (Gregory) will probably feel his side can beat us on their home ground, but will also have respect for us and will know that we will offer them a tough game."

Crawley boss Gregory took charge of his first game in the 0-0 draw between the two sides at the Memorial Stadium on December 7 following his appointment earlier that week.

"I think we have moved on since we played Rovers in that game, but they are a hard side to break down," Gregory said.

"Rovers have also had a couple of decent results since we last played them and it will be a difficult game for us. I just hope the pitch stands up because when it is heavy it can sometimes restrict the amount of football we are able to play on it."

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