Sheffield Wednesday: Gray targets quarter-finals

Sheffield Wednesday players celebrate Joe Mattock's opener against Rochdale which set the Owls off on their FA Cup run
Sheffield Wednesday players celebrate Joe Mattock's opener against Rochdale which set the Owls off on their FA Cup run

Stuart Gray has never let Peter Schmeichel forget that he put a goal past him at Old Trafford.

It was the Owls boss’s only goal for Southampton, in an FA Cup tie in the early Nineties.

But he has never played for or managed a team in a quarter-final of the competition and hopes that the Wednesday team can surpass his exploits by beating Charlton tomorrow and reaching the last eight.

“I told our lads after the Wigan game they’ve got to put that one way and look forward. I asked if anybody has got this far in the FA cup and only Glenn Loovens and Stephen McPhail put their hands up.,

“It’s a great challenge for the players, with a big prize at the end of it. It’s on our patch, We’ve got to bounce back and hopefully go on another good run.

“You get through this tie then the fans can start dreaming about a semi-final appearance. The draw has to be kind, Hopefully we can can get through this and get a home draw as well.

“I’ve never got to a quarter-final. I was brought up as a schoolboy watching it on a Saturday and watching the build-up. I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere.

“The FA Cup is renowned worldwide. Hopefully the players can get a bit further than I did in my career.

“I’ve been to the finals. But that was as a paying punter!

“The pleasing thing was scoring against Schmeichel at Manchester United and then I got to work with him at Aston Villa and I just kept reminding him!”

Southampton won that Old Trafford tie, a replay, on a penalty shoot-out after a 2-2 draw.

But Gray of course hopes to knock out Charlton at the first attempt and avoid a replay on the same awful pitch at The Valley where the teams drew 1-1 in the Championship in December.

Charlton have lost their last three league games, and their only wins in 2014 have been in the FA Cup: 3-0 in a replay at Oxford after a 2-2 home draw, and 1-0 at Huddersfield.

They are third from bottom in the table, nine points behind the Owls.

But Gray added: “Chris Powell will have them organised. They’ll have 11 players who’ll be dreaming about the quarter-finals.

“There are no points at stake; they’ll have a release; the pressure is off; they don’t have to worry on Saturday night about where they are in the league table.

“It will be a tough game. They’re an honest, hard-working side, Chris (Powell will have them fired up.

“They’ll close us down and make it difficult for us. Whether they want to take us back to Charlton... I hope not, the pitch isn’t the best.

“We had difficult ties at Macclesfield and Rochdale. Now we’ve got to put on a show for our fans.

“The Cup is not a distraction. It’s a release. Players can sometimes tighten up. If we were playing Charlton in the League this Saturday, people would be saying it’s six-pointer. My only danger is that they will come here feeling a bit released; We have to make sure we match their work-rate and determination, and hopefully our quality will show.”

Charlton boss Powell said: “We’re okay with the draw. I’m okay with the draw. I really am. Because even though we are away from home again, we have won two FA Cup ties on the road and will be looking to do that again.”