Marriott: Reds game a dream
Lining up against Liverpool in the FA Cup third round on Sunday will be the realisation of a dream for Mansfield goalkeeper Alan Marriott. It will be the first time during Marriott's 16-year career that he has played at that stage of the competition. The 34-year-old, who over the Christmas period made his 500th professional appearance, is a Tottenham fan and counts Paul Gascoigne's thunderous 30-yard free-kick against Arsenal in the 1991 semi-final at Wembley as his greatest FA Cup memory. But Marriott believes it is not beyond the realms of possibility that, come Sunday evening, his own name might be part of FA Cup folklore. "Sunday will be a massive moment for me," said Marriott, Mansfield's joint-longest serving player along with winger Louis Briscoe. "I'm 34 now and coming towards the end of my career, but I have never played in the third round and it is something that I have always wanted to do. And it will be mind-blowing coming up against players of Liverpool's calibre. "It is unbelievable when you think about the players you could come up against. Whether they put out Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard or some of the youngsters, they have got a fantastic squad. "They have fantastic depth with under-21 internationals and anyone who plays will want to show they are good enough to play for Liverpool. "In Daniel Sturridge we could be coming up against someone who this week cost around £12million, which is more than all of us and the club put together is worth. You can't grasp the reality sometimes. "I suppose when you look at it like that, you just want to have a good game and not embarrass ourselves in front of friends, family and the watching world on television. "We just have to go out and enjoy the occasion - it fulfils a lot of dreams for a lot of people. We will enjoy the day and then keep the memories locked away for when we are sitting in a rocking chair. "But we also want to do our best. We can go out there and enjoy it but there is no point in doing that if you don't have the belief that you can win, so we want to pull off a shock. "Some people might think we are in dreamland thinking we can win, but we will be out there fighting like Trojans so anything could happen. "I am a Tottenham fan and my greatest FA Cup memory is that Gazza free-kick against Arsenal. It is one of the greatest ever goals and I can't remember the number of times I recreated that in my back garden. "Who knows, maybe on Sunday I might have my own special memory to look back on when I'm in that rocking chair." Mansfield overcame Blue Square Bet Premier rivals Lincoln in a replay to set up the money-spinning tie at home to Liverpool. Marriott spent almost a decade as an Imps player and admits he felt some sympathy towards his old club last month when he played a part in knocking them out of the competition. "It was only the second time I had played against Lincoln since I had nine years there," said Marriott. "It was tough as I knew the financial state of the club and what getting through could do for them. But you have to do the right thing for yourself and this game is a dream come true for me." Stags boss Paul Cox, who got married on Friday and celebrates his 41st birthday on Sunday, will be able to include Ritchie Sutton is his squad after the defender served a one-match suspension on New Year's Day. Jake Speight is expected to be restored to the starting XI, partnering Matt Green in attack. Mansfield go into the game against the seven-time winners of the competition in good form having lost just one of their last 12 matches, and they will be hoping to evoke memories of their League Cup draw against Liverpool in 1970.
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