Villa v Sheff Utd preview: Lowton still gripped by FA Cup magic
Matt Lowton is ready to rekindle his romance with the FA Cup this weekend - after revealing the agony and ecstasy he experienced as a fan.
Lowton - who lines up against former club Sheffield United in this afternoon's third round clash - knows exactly what the world's most famous knockout competition means to supporters.
As an eight-year-old, he was gripped by hometown club Chesterfield's fairytale Cup run which culminated in an epic semi-final against Middlesbrough.
Lowton attended every round of the Derbyshire club's Cup campaign during the 1996-97 season along with his dad and brother.
He vividly recalls the jubilation of seeing his boyhood club take a 2-0 lead against Boro in the last four clash at Old Trafford, the controversy of Jonathan Howard's disallowed effort and the relief as the Spireites scored late on to earn a replay.
Chesterfield eventually to succumbed to Bryan Robson's star-studded side 3-0 in the semi-final replay at Hillsborough, but the magic of the Cup has stuck with Lowton ever since.
Now the Villa full-back is keen to create some long-lasting memories as a player.
"Growing up it is always about the magic of the FA Cup," he said.
"I had a great experience myself as a Chesterfield fan back in 1997.
"I went to every game in that Cup run and it was brilliant. For the fans you could see what it meant to them.
"I can still remember travelling down on the bus and everyone's faces were painted and things like that.
"I was in the crowd and I nearly broke my ankle when they scored the second goal! I got my foot stuck in the seat celebrating. But it was a fantastic day.
"It is times like that you look back on and how much games mean to people.
"It would be great for us to have a good cup run, to get as far as we can to give them some good times.
"We need to make sure we give our fans on Saturday a good performance at home. They deserve it for coming out in their numbers."
Third round day has even greater significance for Lowton this season after the draw paired Villa with the club that gave him his big break.
His brother Glenn broke the news to him during the journey back from the recent Barclays Premier League game against Fulham.
"I didn't actually see the draw because we had a game," said Lowton.
"My brother rang me up and he was laughing down the phone so I kind of had an inkling that it was a tasty draw.
"I asked him and I didn't believe him - I thought he was making it up.
"It is the club that means a lot to me and I made my debut there so I was very happy when I saw we were playing them."
Lowton is still in touch with several members of the Sheffield United squad, including close pal Harry Maguire.
The full-back needs no telling that the League One side will arrive sensing a giantkilling.
"I've been texting a few of the lads and when the draw was made I got a few messages," he added.
"Harry Maguire, the centre-back, still lives pretty close when I go back up there so we go out for tea and things like that.
"He's been asking me about our team and who has been playing.
"We need to make sure we don't take the game lightly on Saturday just because we are playing a lower league club.
"I've been in that situation before. They are going to come and get in our faces but we need to override that and hopefully our quality will come out on top."
Villa v Sheff Utd
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Paul Lambert press conference - watch now
Paul Lambert may look to rest several players for this FA Cup clash with Sheff Utd, as he keeps one eye on the Barclays Premier League clash with Arsenal a week on Monday.
Ron Vlaar looks set to miss the game as he recovers from the calf injury which ruled him out after 70 minutes at Sunderland.
Libor Kozak will definitely not be playing after breaking his leg in training on Thursday.
Villa will be wearing their traditional home kit of claret and blue.
BetBright matchday odds:
Villa to win - 2/5
There's more fun in store ahead of Villa's clash with Sheff Utd as B6 hosts another family funday.
Following on from the successes of previous fundays, another one is set to take place before the FA Cup clash with the Blades.
Enjoy the build-up to the game by checking out a host of free activities in the Villa Park Indoor Academy from 12noon.
Activities include speed cage, gladiator duel, cactus hoopla, golf chip, darts, snowboard simulator, noughts and crosses and assault course.
Mascots Hercules and Bella will be coming along too! Disabled entrance access at the front - or on the road side - of the Indoor Academy.
Be in with the chance of being a mascot for one of this season's FA Cup semi-finals.
Junior supporters can enter our competition to walk out with a player at Wembley in April.
The FA are looking for representatives from various clubs to emerge from the tunnel with whichever teams make it through to the last four clashes.
The prize is available for any young fan aged between seven and eleven who is attending the Sheff Utd match.
To enter, an adult will need to fill out a competition entry form at the welcome desk in the family funzone on Saturday before the match.
The winner will then be chosen at random and notified next week.
Villa's match console is the ultimate place to be to follow the game with Sheff Utd.
Tune in and be part of the claret and blue conversation.
Before the game starts, the match console will also contain pre-match analysis, interactive polls and a free video package previewing the game.
During the match itself, you can follow the action and interact with Paul Brown and Dan Harrison in the match console.
Paul and Dan will bring you blow by blow action as the game unfolds as well as the thoughts of fans logging-in from all over the planet.
After the game, the match console contains a game report, manager's verdict, stat pack and a picture gallery.
You can boost the coverage of the game in the subscription-only area of the match console.
Here, you can enjoy live audio commentary, with Jack Woodward joined by Tony Morley on the microphone throughout the 90 minutes.
Also, in our subscription area, you get a video interview with Paul Lambert and the star players from the game and extended highlights too.
You can become a member for £4.99 per month - or £44.99 for the year - sign up today here.