Wycombe Wanderers’ FA Cup hero Joe Jacobson believes they can cause an FA Cup upset on Tuesday night when they face Premier League strugglers Aston Villa in their third round replay.
The former Maccabi GB Sportsperson of the Year converted a second half penalty to earn the League Two side a 1-1 draw on Saturday, and the Welshman sees no reason why they can’t complete the job and set up a fourth round clash against Manchester City.
Conceding it will be tough to get a win at Villa Park, the 29-year-old defender told Jewish News: “We obviously know they’re a very good team with good players. But they’ve gone so many games without a victory and the longer it takes to get the victory, the harder it is to get it. There’s obviously something not right there, but if they turn up and play well then they’ll beat us – they’ve got the quality and squad to do that. They’ve been having a poor run of late and obviously their confidence has been really low, but they’re still a Premier League team with Premier League and international players so it was always going to be hard. But the way the gaffer sets us up, we’re probably a nightmare for them to play against with the fact that we don’t ever stop running, we chase every ball. We knew that if we could stay in the game for as long as possible, there was a chance we could get a goal and fortunately we did.
“Saturday’s game was pretty even, both sides had a couple of chances. I don’t think we were disappointed by getting the draw. I think it was a great result and we’ve now got a replay in a massive stadium at a huge club with a great history, we’re all really looking forward to the replay, it’s huge for the club to get that extra financial help which that will bring.
“Hopefully, if we can get a bit of luck, clear some off the line like we did on Saturday and if things go our way like it did when they hit the bar in the first game, then why not?”
Jacobson earned them the lucrative replay by clinically converting from the spot kick, and admitted he was always confident he’d find the back of the net. “Our normal penalty taker wasn’t on the pitch at the time so we didn’t really have a named penalty taker”, he said. “I just went up and said “I want it”, got the ball and there was no one taking it off me. For some reason, I felt really confident, sometimes in games you feel everything you do is good, and for me I felt all my set-pieces were good on the day so there was no chance in my head that I was going to miss – and thankfully I didn’t!
“There was a long gap, with their players wanting to delay things, but I honestly didn’t feel any pressure. There wasn’t anyone saying anything to me, I wanted to get the ball and score a penalty in a massive game – and that was all I was thinking about. I wasn’t thinking about where I was going to put it, or that I was going to miss, it was purely confidence that I was going to take it and score.
“I’ve taken five or six penalties over the years, albeit in shoot-outs and not during games. I’ll always put myself forward for them. I was the designated penalty taker at Shrewsbury, but we didn’t get one all season, I never got the chance to take one, but I’m confident in myself and ability that I can score a penalty so will always be there asking to take it. If someone else asks to take it, and they’re confident about it, I have no qualms either.”
Delighted to score his first FA Cup goal, he said: “It’s every kid’s dream is to score in the FA Cup and especially being in a lower league and scoring in the third round against a Premier Division team is huge for anyone and something I’ll never forget.”
Looking forward to another trip to Villa Park, having played there for the Welsh U21 side against England, he said: “I’m looking forward to it. There will be a huge crowd there, it will be a great occasion, will be something to tell my friends and family about and I’m sure I’ll be inundated with ticket requests.”
Reflecting back on a first half of the season which sees the side currently sitting in a play-off position, he says: “I think it’s been alright. After how last season ended, people looking in were unsure if we’d get a hangover from that or if it kicks you on. We had a really good start to the season and were on top for a few games. Then we had an indifferent few months, but kicked on again over the Christmas period where we won three out of four.
“We’re looking to kick-on for the second half of the season and see where that takes us. I think we’re overachieving where the club have stated they want us to be, which is really good for everyone involved and you never know, maybe another play-off campaign will take shape, we’ll have to wait and see how it goes. The gaffer wants us to be a bit more consistent in our performances and to keep giving everything we have.”