CHIPPENHAM Town chief Nathan Rudge believes his side need a 12th man if they’re to stand any chance of beating Gloucester City in the FA Cup this Saturday.
The Bluebirds boss has called on fans to make the trip to Cheltenham Town’s Whaddon Road as his depleted side face their Conference North rivals for a place in the first round proper.
Rudge has managed to restore teenage goalkeeper Conor Thompson on work experience terms from Torquay United, avoiding the need for his assistant Richard Fey playing between the sticks.
Regular keeper Ben John is cup-tied alongside Clayton Fortune and Tyrone Mings.
Iain Harvey and Toby Osman are suspended while Lee Phillips and Josh Egan are injury doubts, although Dean Griffiths and James Guthrie should be fit.
Rudge, who signed former Bath City ace Adie Harris on Thursday night, concedes that the odds are stacked against the Bluebirds.
“I want to call for as many fans as possible to come and support us on Saturday because we need a 12th man. It’s as simple as that,'' he said.
“With the way our team is, I would fully expect Gloucester to beat us on the day if I’m honest and a good support would be the only thing that would give us that extra drive.”
Rudge hinted at his disappointment with Mangotsfield United for allowing City to re-arrange their Gloucestershire Senior Challenge Cup match for Monday. That allowed former Bristol Rovers captain Lewis Hogg to complete a suspension in time to face the Bluebirds.
Rudge said: “I’ve got no axe to grind with Gloucester and I get on well with their manager Dave Mehew. Fair play to them for doing every thing they can to be at full strength for Saturday.
“But I’m a little bit disappointed with a few other people that I’ve helped out in the past. Some people say that there are no friends in football and that may be true.
“Mangotsfield were supposed to play Clevedon that night and I don’t know why that was cancelled.”
Rudge was part of the Bluebirds side that drew 1-1 with the Tigers in the second qualifying round in September 2000 before losing a home replay 5-3.
“I remember that game well – I scored a goal and also won us a penalty and Steve Tweddle scored a phantom goal that bounced back off the wall before he tapped it in,” he added.
“It was a real battle because you could really smash people and you had to try really hard to even get a yellow card – I don’t think this Saturday will be like that.