STOKE CITY will hit the road to Wembley in the Capital One Cup . . . against a team who provided the opposition for the first-ever game at the Britannia Stadium almost 15 years to the day.
In a season of huge historical significance as the Club celebrates its 150th anniversary, they come up against a Swindon Town side who featured in a landmark occasion back in late August 1997.
Before a crowd of 23,000, Richard Forsyth raised hopes of a winning start at the new home, but Swindon proved to be party poopers as they snatched two late goals to secure a 2-1 victory.
City will therefore be eager to ensure that the outcome isn’t a similar one in the Capital One Second Round tie and so avoid becoming victims of a cup upset at the hands of Paola Di Canio’s side.
While the Potters have opened the new campaign with two draws in the Barclays Premier League against Reading and Arsenal, the Wiltshire club have made an excellent start to the season.
Fresh from landing the League Two title in some style last season, they are currently sitting in third place in the League One table after winning three of their four games in all competitions.
The highlight was undoubtedly the 3-0 triumph over Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion which secured their passage into the second round of the Capital One Cup with all the goals coming in the space of 22 minutes in the second half and Alan Navarro netting two of them.
In the League, Swindon opened up with a goalless draw at Hartlepool before successive home wins over fellow League One newcomers Crawley Town and then MK Dons at the weekend.
As well as setting them on the road to victory over Crawley, key midfielder Matt Ritchie was the hero again on Saturday with the only goal of the game in their latest victory over MK Dons.
A CHANCE TO SHINE
MANAGER Tony Pulis has indicated that Tuesday evening’s cup encounter will be an opportunity for a number of players in the squad to gain valuable game time.
City’s seven substitutes for the goalless draw with Arsenal are all likely to feature against Swindon Town, while Jamie Ness, Diego Arismendi and Danny Higginbotham are other players who will be hoping for the chance to figure in the first team at the Britannia Stadium.
Two players who are expected to miss out on the Capital One Cup action are winger Matthew Etherington and striker Mamady Sidibe who are currently on the injury list.
Pulis revealed that Etherington is likely to miss the next two matches – Swindon and Wigan – with a hamstring strain, while Sidibe is nursing a groin injury which he sustained in the Development Squad’s opening game of the season against Manchester United.
In the countdown to Friday’s transfer deadline, the Swindon game may well be a shop window for some with Pulis hinting that fringe players may be moving on.
THERE is certainly never a dull moment when Paolo Di Canio is around . . . and that will surely be the case at the Britannia Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Di Canio is a colourful and flamboyant character who had already made his mark in English football during a successful, sometimes controversial playing career.
The story has been a similar one in the relatively short time that he has been in management following his appointment as Swindon manager last year.
The Italian has certainly repaid the faith that has been shown in his ability by shaking things up at Swindon and turning them into a promotion-winning force.
Di Canio enjoyed successful spells with Sheffield Wednesday and West Ham as an immensely- gifted striker, although his time at Hillsborough was best remembered for the shove on referee Paul Alcock which led to him being handed an eleven match suspension.
He eventually returned to Italy in the latter stages of his career where he had a spell with Lazio, but he signalled his intention to move into management on retirement.
STOKE City will be hoping to keep a winning sequence going against Swindon Town . . . having won the last four meetings with them, scoring twelve goals and conceding just one.
Their last meetings came in the old Division Two ten years ago when the Potters enjoyed four comfortable wins including two 3-0 triumphs at the County Ground in Wiltshire.
The overall record between the two sides is, however, quite even with the 21 games in all competitions producing nine Stoke wins, eight Swindon victories and four draws.
The one occasion the two sides met in the League Cup in 1979 went to a replay which resulted in Swindon eventually coming out on top with a 2-1 at the County Ground.
Goals from Alan Mayes and Ray McHale earned the triumph on an occasion when the current Swindon Kit Manager Roger Jones was in goal for the Potters.
THE Capital One Cup tie at the Britannia Stadium kicks off at 7.45pm.
The tie has to be settled on the night with extra-time and penalties if necessary.
Tickets are available, priced at £12.00 for adults and £6.00 for concessions.
The Club will be opening the Q-railing Stand and Boothen End for home supporters.