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Underwood: There's no expectation on Slough Town to cause FA Cup upset against Rochdale

FACING the BBC cameras for coverage of the FA Cup second round draw on Monday night was a surreal experience for Slough Town’s joint boss Jon Underwood, but one, he admitted, he could get used to.

The draw came less than 48 hours after Slough’s stunning 6-0 first round victory over National League North side Gainsborough Trinity, a match he and co manager Neil Baker said was the highlight of their managerial careers.

The Rebels were handed a home tie against League One Rochdale in Monday’s draw and although Underwood said there would be no expectation on the Rebels, he is confident they could cause an upset if – like it did on Saturday – everything falls into place.

In the meantime he expects competition within the squad to be intense as the Rebels continue their quest for promotion and advancement in the other cup competitions, with the side visiting Maldon & Tiptree in the FA Trophy tomorrow afternoon (Saturday).

“Who knows if we can beat Rochdale?” said Underwood.

“We’ll see. But there will be no expectation on us to do it. They are four levels higher than us but it’s a game we can all look forward to. The most important thing was getting a home draw, that was the first priority.

“We’ll need to do our homework on Rochdale. They’re going to have a load of quality. But we’re good here and they won’t be used to playing matches on this pitch. That’s an advantage for us. Who knows they might not adapt quickly to it and if we continue to do well in the league confidence won’t be a problem.”

If the Rebels thought their week couldn’t get any better they were wrong, with the side named Southern Premier League club of the month for October. A reflection on a stunning month for the Rebels which saw them battle back from being 4-0 down to beat Merthyr Town 5-4 and put five goals past Gosport.

‘Near perfect’ was how Underwood saw their performance at Gainsborough, where Matt Lench netted a wonderful hat-trick. Expectations won’t be high for the visit of Rochdale but perhaps they should be. Slough are the top scorers in the top eight levels of English football and have shown a spirit and togetherness to fight back from going behind on several occasions.

“To do it in such a big game,” he said. “For us it was our biggest game and the performance was near perfect. You don’t often get that against a decent side who were in good form, but we took them apart. It was a pleasure to watch to be honest.

“We’re trying to get in the Conference South and we’ve said to the boys we think they’re of a Conference South standard. It’s all very well saying that but you’ve got to do it and it’s a tough league to get out of. I think the depth of squad we’ve got could cope with the level up and the performance we showed on Saturday was more than a level up, it was two levels up. But if we go into our next few games thinking they’ll be easy we’ll come unstuck.

“We’ve got to remind the players they’re here for one thing. And that’s to get promoted. The FA Cup has been a brilliant thing to be involved in but the bread and butter is the league.

“There’s no point carrying on the cup run if we fall away in the league. The players now have six or seven opportunities to make sure they get in the side for the Rochdale game so there shouldn't be any complacency.”

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