Aaron Wilbraham: Rochdale striker relishing test at Newcastle in FA Cup third round replay

Rochdale striker Aaron Wilbraham is relishing the opportunity of an FA Cup third round replay away at Premier League side Newcastle.

Miguel Almiron's first-half strike had given the visitors the lead in their first meeting at the Crown Oil Arena but Wilbraham's effort as the game entered the final stages forced a replay.

His goal proved to be decisive on the final result and Dale travel to St. James' Park on Tuesday night where a winner will be settled on the night.

Despite 48 places separating the two sides in the Football League pyramid, Wilbraham stated that they will be going with the intention of getting a result.

"I think it's an exciting tie for us to be able to go up there - the supporters, the staff and the players," the Rochdale striker told Sporting Life.

"We're all looking forward to going up there and obviously trying to get the right result.

"We finished the game strongly against them so there's no reason why we can't go there in a positive mood and look to get the right result.

"I think we can go there and enjoy the underdog tag - the pressure is on Newcastle.

"Their fans will be expecting them to turn us over nice and easy so with that expectancy - sometimes it can add to the pressure.

"We'll be looking to take advantage of that and definitely looking forward to getting to the next round."

Rochdale 1-1 Newcastle | FA Cup Highlights

At the age of 40, the 2019/20 season is Wilbraham's 23rd in professional football.

Even with a wealth of experience under his belt, the veteran forward revealed that his strike in their draw with Newcastle reminded him of how special the FA Cup can be.

"I came on at half-time and I was just looking to give us a platform to play off really," he explained.

"To get the goal with ten minutes to go was a great feeling obviously.

"I didn't understand how big of a goal it was at the time but then the magic of the FA Cup, the third round, the 40-year-old scoring against Premier League opposition assisted by a 17-year-old.

"I then understood the big story of it. It was a great feeling and a massive lift for the club to be able to go to St. James' Park now."

That goal made him a popular figure with friends quick to send messages of congratulations.

"It took me about 20 minutes to get back to the dressing room because of all the interviews," Wilbraham joked.

"I then had about 176 WhatsApp messages on my phone! It's just been mental ever since to be fair and it's been good.

"It's been good for the family, I lost my mum at the start of December, so it's given all the family a big lift as well reading about that.

"It's been nice and it's been a good week."

Aaron Wilbraham equalises for Sky Bet League One Rochdale against Premier League Newcastle
Aaron Wilbraham celebrates his goal against Newcastle

That strike at Spotland was also a significant moment in Wilbraham's long football career as it saw him join an exclusive group of players to have the accolade of scoring in four different decades.

Despite it being a milestone moment, the Rochdale man revealed that he hadn't previously given thought to the achievement.

"I wasn't aware of it at all," he claimed.

"When I heard it, it didn't really make sense and then I realised that I scored on my debut in '98, then the '00s, '10s and the '20s.

"It was crazy when I started hearing that fact after the game. People started messaging me - it's madness.

"I think (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic did it on Saturday, a week later, so yeah, crazy.

"Wilbrahimovic beat Ibrahimovic by a week."

Even without prior knowledge of his latest record, milestones remain important to the experienced striker.

He's a player with a track record of promotion. Norwich's rise to the Premier League in 2011 meant that he had achieved that feat from all three divisions of the Football League.

"I've had five promotions and I remember from every league I've been promoted with different teams so I do like little stats like that," Wilbraham said.

"It's good for your family and your friends to give you those little reminders.

"Most of the time, my friends are sending me this stuff on Twitter as I'm not on any social media so I get sent all these facts from my mates and my family.

"They are good little milestones to reach. As you get older, you're breaking little records again so it's nice."

Rochdale players after their Carabao Cup game against Manchester United
Rochdale players after their Carabao Cup game against Manchester United

The Sky Bet League One side travel to St. James' as big 7/1 outsiders for victory in 90 minutes on Tuesday night.

Dale have already had the experience of playing a top-flight side this season as they faced Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup third round.

Brian Barry-Murphy's side drew that game 1-1 in normal time; penalties denying them a heroic victory against a giant of English football.

Wilbraham will be hoping they can go one better this time around and outlined how he feels they can get a result in their latest big test.

"We've got to go there and have no fear really," he claimed.

"Like I've said we need to enjoy the underdog tag. Enjoy the fact that Newcastle fans are going to be expecting their team to win and let the pressure be on them.

"We can go and, not enjoy the day, but enjoy the performance.

"Obviously, stick to the game plan. We've had an unbeaten start to the year with two good league wins and a good draw against a Premier League side.

"So there's no reason why we can't go there in a confident mood."


Odds correct at 1545 GMT (13/01/20)

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