And so the adventure begins: a trip to Hertfordshire, in a Cup many derided (including myself) but let's not pretend it's about the Irn Bru Cup - this is a weekend away, an overnight bus journey and a further overnight in a hotel before we lurch back northwards on Sunday. It's a 48 hour period not likely to be repeated any time soon.
A second string Pars team knocked out Irn Bru Cup holders Inverness in the last round but for this weekend's game, manager Allan Johnston has confirmed that he will field a strong team, partly due to the height and physicality of our opponents Boreham Wood and also because a win would boost morale: this is not a game for a team made up of mainly teenagers. Ryan Williamson is on international duty with Scotland Under 21s; Sean Murdoch, Lewis Martin and Tom Beadling are at various stages of recovery from their injury problems. AJ mentioned 'one or two injury niggles' who will not be risked but it's not known who those players are. I have selected a team, posted below, with mostly first team starters plus a couple of players who need game time, having been substitutes in recent weeks.
Boreham Wood (the football club separate the names, unlike the name of the town itself) narrowly missed out on promotion to the Football League last season, losing the play-off final at Wembley to Tranmere. This pre-season, Tranmere visited EEP and scored 4 times against us, so we have some idea of the level of opponent. Our hosts this weekend are slight favourites to win the game with most bookies.
The competition represents a chance to win a trophy and is a break from the norm, the humdrum, the over-familiarity that plagues Scottish football - do we need to play (for example) Dundee United AGAIN? We will enjoy it for what it is, and those of us lucky enough to be going will long remember our 3am stop-off at some service station in Middlesbrough or some other town. The game itself will fade from the memory long before the good times we will recall about our weekend in Borehamwood.
Preferred starting 11 (4-4-2 formation):