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Football: City banish cup talk, but Rochdale let rip.

Byline: Terry Phillips Chief Sports Writer

CARDIFF City have put FA Cup hopes out of their minds as they approach Saturday's crucial league clash at Northampton, but Rochdale are already warning both the Bluebirds and Coventry City: ``Take us ser i ous

y. '' The Third Division club were angered before their third round tie at Preston North End when home skipper Chris Lucketti described it as `Rochdale's cup final.' ``It was no more our cup final than their cup final,'' said Dale player-manager Paul Simpson.

``It was just as big a game for them. People inside our club thought it was disrespectful referring to this match as little Rochdale's cup final and maybe it spurred the players on a little.''

Goals from Lee McEvillyand Simpson earned Dale a 2-1 win and Simpson knows whoever comes through the Coventry v Cardiff replay will take the game seriously.

Cardiff were left unmoved by the draw at Rochdale, a tie scheduled for Saturday, January 25.

It's not that the Bluebirds don't care, but for the moment their priorities are centred on Saturday's Division Two clash with the Cob-blers and then next week's FA Cup replay at Coventry before they even think about a trip to Rochdale.

If Cardiff do overturn the Sky Blues on January 15, then their scheduled league match 10 days later at Huddersfield Town would be postponed.

``We won't even think about the fourth round draw until after we've been to Northampton and Coventry,'' said Bluebirds manager Lennie Lawrence.

``There is nothing to say and we have to remain focused on playing Northampton.''

Third Division Rochdale are aiming for promotion and they underlined their potential with that cup win at First Division Preston. They have also beaten Division Three leaders Hartlepool United 4-0 in recent weeks.

``We showed tremendous spirit at Preston and if we show the same level of commitment for the rest of the season we won't go far wrong,'' said Simpson. ``We need the same enthusiasm, energy and workrate in our league and cup games to come .''

Cardiff's last visit to Spotland, in September 2000, ended in a 1-1 draw as the Bluebirds swept to promotion from Division Three.

Rochdale have three Welsh players - goalkeeper Neil Edwards from Aberdare, former Welshpool Town defender Wayne Evans and ex-Rhyl defender Gareth Griffiths.

The Greater Manchester club suffered an horrendous October and November, but were unbeaten in December. They have not lost in seven matches and Simpson describes his team's form during that run as `first class'.

One of Rochdale's danger men is Clive Platt, who was a target for City a few years ago.

The 6ft 4ins former Walsall striker signed for Rochdale in a pounds 70,000 move three and a half years ago and has made more than 150 first team appearances for the club.

Cardiff and Rochdale have never met in the FA Cup, but they have clashed 20 times in league action.

City have only ever won once at Spotland - 2-1 in March 1993 on the way to promotion - while Rochdale have won twice at home, with seven games drawn.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 9, 2003
Words:515
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