Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor grateful for FA Cup third round opportunity against Oxford United
Dave Challinor will be hoping to become the first Hartlepool United manager in 11 years to guide the club to the fourth round of the FA Cup when they face League One high-flyers Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday.
The new Pools boss has experienced a mixed run of form in the National League since taking charge with just two wins from his opening eight matches.
This run has been somewhat softened by an encouraging FA Cup campaign which saw Pools win 4-1 at Yeovil Town before fighting back to beat League Two side Exeter City in the second round.
Now they face their toughest challenge so far in the form of League One play-off contenders Oxford who have lost just three of their last 24 matches in all competitions.
“It probably is a free hit,” admitted Challinor.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say Tuesday’s game against Eastleigh is more important to me than Saturday’s game is but it’s certainly a big chance for us.
“We have players who aspire and in some instances people will tell them that they should be playing at that level so now they’ve got a good chance to go and show it.
“What we are doing is going down to play against a really good team who are flying high and play on a really good pitch.
“It’s a game we’re looking forward to and we’re looking at it knowing it’s the FA Cup and anything can happen.
“But we also go there knowing we face a really tough task that is still one that we can go and enjoy.
“I’m really grateful for us to be pitting our wits against a team from a higher division though I would love to be pitting my wits against a team from the Premier division!
“I’m sure Robbo and Faz [Oxford manager Karl Robinson and assistant Derek Fazackerley] will take this in the right way but of all the draws, to be away from home against a team who are flying like themselves isn’t great from our perspective.
“We’ll take the challenge on and hopefully go and do ourselves justice.”