Orient defender would relish the chance to play Manchester United again

Defender Sawyer sees the FA Cup as a welcome distraction

Orient defender Gary Sawyer will be hoping that history repeats itself when Russell Slade’s side launch their FA Cup campaign at non-league Gloucester City on Sunday.

The O’s travel to Whaddon Road and Sawyer insists that the competition will provide a welcome distraction to the club’s disappointing league form.

“The FA Cup is always good, it gets everyone’s tails up,” said Sawyer, who is no stranger to success in the competition.

The 27-year-old, who started his career at Plymouth, has twice played against Manchester United in the FA Cup.

While on loan at Exeter City in January 2005 the Grecians travelled to Old Trafford and Sawyer was part of the team that battled their way to a goalless draw.

The Orient man was also part of the Exeter team that were beaten 2-0 in the replay.

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“I had a good cup run when I was a youngster at Exeter and I’m very fond of the competition,” said Sawyer, who would like to make it through to the third round of the competition again.

He insists the FA Cup has lost none of its charm and added: “The players still love it, especially at a club like ours,” he said.

“If you can make it to the third round you have got the chance of drawing a big gun and everyone wants to play against the bigger clubs.”

Although Sunday’s tie is a potential banana skin for Orient against their Blue Square Bet North rivals, Sawyer is delighted that the match is taking place at Cheltenham Town’s ground.

“Sometimes it is a leveller when you go down to a non-league side and play on their tight little pitches, but Cheltenham is a great football pitch and should suit us,” he said.

The Bideford-born defender is confident that Orient can progress in the competition. “It’s a good draw for us and we will go there to win it,” he said.

Sawyer is keen not to make the headlines for the wrong reasons and added: “Of course we will be under pressure, there is pressure every game – that’s football at this level.

“But it’s a good game for us and it’s definitely winnable.

“If we can go there and play like we did against Coventry then hopefully we won’t have any problems.

“Cheltenham’s a lovely football pitch and it will suit us, so it’s a good draw for us.”

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