FA Cup 1st Round Ties to Watch Out For This Weekend

November 8, 2013 in FA and Carling Cup, League 1, Non-League by Louis Baxter

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Small Fish v Big Fish

Shortwood United v Port Vale, Monday 7:45 PM

Shortwood are the lowest ranking club in the 1st round of the oldest of the old competitions; the Gloucestershire club are currently residing in the seventh tier of English football and in the biggest fixture of their existence they’ll be hosting Port Vale, currently mid-table in League One. With promotions between them it’s unlikely to be much of a contest, but these kind of ties are what the 1st round of the FA Cup are about. In a way this home tie against Port Vale is Shortwood’s FA Cup final, and playing the fixture at home will give them more of a chance of keeping it holy.

Prediction: Shortwood United 0-4 Port Vale

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FA Cup Third Round Preview: Part 2

December 13, 2012 in FA and Carling Cup by Louis Baxter

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Mansfield Town/Lincoln City vs Liverpool

Relegation to the Conference is perhaps the most devastating thing that can happen to a club in the English game. There’s the financial reasons, of course, but also, there can’t be too many leagues in Europe, nay world,  harder to escape then the Blue Square Premier. With only two promotion spots, and but one automatic spot, the league can be a purgatory. Mansfield Town have found this out the hard way, and the reality that one poor season can potentially ruin the club for the next decade. But they have showed signs of rallying,  losing in the play-offs last season and being in contention for them again this year.

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FA Cup Third Round Preview: Part 1

December 12, 2012 in FA and Carling Cup by George Curtis

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For your average human, falling leaves, frost on the window, blossoming flowers and the chime of various instruments bellowing from an ice cream van determine the four seasons of the year. But for the football fan, that calendar that you bought from WHSmith last summer looks drastically different. ‘Summer’ is replaced by European Championships, World Cup or merely the birth of the domestic season, ‘Spring’ is taken over by the latter stages of European competition, ‘Autumn’ is disposed of in favour of the Champions League group stages and ‘Winter’ is crossed off with a big black marker pen to be replaced with FA Cup football, good and proper. Exciting, isn’t it?

Now that endless weeks of qualifying rounds, competed by non-league teams most of us will never hear of again, are over, what is commonly referred to as ‘the FA Cup proper’ can commence. With a number of ties whetting the appetite of the most fervent FA Cup followers with still a matter of weeks to go before the Third Round, I’m here to take you through a few of the shiny red balls that caught my eye when the draw was made.

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AFC Wimbledon vs MK Dons: Fans vs The Machine

November 15, 2012 in FA and Carling Cup by Louis Baxter

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In my childhood-spanning journey around all the grounds, the time I saw the now defunct Wimbledon of old stands out more than most. Their temporary home ground was the national hockey stadium; this was after their move to Milton Keynes, but before their name change. Finances were in disrepair, as they were for many lower league clubs in the early 00′s - about one in every two games I would see, fans would be stood outside with buckets, collecting coppers to keep their club afloat. But with Wimbledon, the writing seemed fairly indisputably on the wall. They were going to go out of business, it was only a question of when. I reckon there were under a thousand ‘home’ fans there to watch their side bow to a meagre defeat to a poor Coventry side. The whole game was just disillusionment, the fans not understanding why they were where they were and how they got there. At the end of that season, the club’s name was officially changed, cutting any ties to the club its fans may have had left lingering. And the club they had watched for all these years had ceased to exist,  and its history, its trophies and its place in the Football League would be taken by some Frankenstein’s monster called MK Dons (not even Milton Keynes Dons, because that would be less marketable) destined to walk around in their corpse forever.

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The night Arsenal turned despair into triumph

November 1, 2012 in FA and Carling Cup by Lizzi Hollis

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When Arsenal drew Reading in the League Cup fourth round, I shrugged my shoulders in a non-committal ‘it’ll probably be okay’ kinda way. Sure, maybe it wasn’t going to be as easy as getting League Two Bradford, but was much more reassuring that drawing Manchester United or Chelsea.

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