FA Cup 1st Round Predictions Marathon: Part One

fa cupHere are The Football Lab’s Predictions of 13 of this weekend’s 40 FA Cup First Round matches. We start at The Den…

Millwall v Southend

Millwall manager Neil Harris started the 2004 FA Cup Final up front for the Lions, but his relationship with the competition as a manager has not been so positive. His side lost to Wycombe Wanderers last season and had been thrashed at Southend in 13/14, during a previous caretaker spell. The respective teams were then two divisions apart, but the gap has narrowed to just a League One point, following a productive October for both clubs. 1-2

Eastleigh v Swindon

The televised Friday night FA Cup games have a habit of throwing up an upset and Eastleigh could follow suit. The Spitfires knocked out League One opposition in Crewe last season and have won eight games out of a possible 14 since their change of manager. In Ronnie Moore, they have arguably a more accomplished boss than Swindon’s Luke Williams. The 35-year-old employs more expansive tactics than his experienced counter-part but is yet to address long-standing issues of defensive naivety. 2-1

Crawley v Bristol Rovers

A repeat of the 2014 Third Round tie that saw Bristol Rovers of League Two knock out League One Crawley. Despite the West Country club’s brief Football League exit that year, the two clubs have swapped divisions meaning Darrell Clarke’s side are odds-on favourites. The goals of the hardworking Matty Taylor among others mean they have only failed to score twice in all competitions since February. Crawley’s approach of playing out from the back works against teams below them, but they have taken five League Two points from a possible 18 against those above. The Red Devils cannot afford to continue playing with fire, or in this case Gas. 0-2

Bolton v Grimsby

Marcus Bignot is the slight favourite to be Grimsby’s next manager, but Dave Moore and Stuart Watkiss may retain temporary control on Saturday. Moore praised the effort and composure of his players at Yeovil last week, while Bolton dominated Port Vale, Sammy Ameobi a key influence. Phil Parkinson achieved plenty of cup success with Bradford but Grimsby have previous in this competition themselves – they are the only Lincolnshire club ever to reach an FA Cup semi-final. 2-1

Bradford v Accrington

In August’s EFL Cup tie between these sides, Accrington Stanley won on penalties, despite playing 46 of the 120 minutes with 10 men. They enjoyed an impressive run, thriving against other higher league opponents in Burnley and West Ham. John Coleman’s side tend to raise their game against the better teams so Bradford, often the architects of a giant-killing, may be the victims this time around. 1-2

Braintree Town v Eastbourne Borough

A repeat of the 07/08 Conference South play-off semi-final, which Eastbourne won 5-0 on aggregate en route to promotion. Despite being in a lower division, The Sports may grab more goals against their Essex counter-parts. Braintree have gone from having arguably the National League’s best defence last year to shipping 33 in 18 this term. The Iron have been hindered by manager Danny Cowley’s summer exit, bad first halves and swiftly changing goalkeepers. Led by reliable defenders Ian Simpemba and Craig Stone, Eastborough have the experience to pull up trees in this round. 0-2

Bury v AFC Wimbledon

Bury last won the FA Cup in 1903, when they went through the entire competition without conceding a goal. Their admittedly slim chances of repeating that feat are hindered by a recent injury to key centre-back Nathan Cameron. A bad run has further strained relations between David Flitcroft and fans, but there is a contrasting sense of unity at AFC Wimbledon. With a strong work ethic and a smattering of in-form forwards, the Wombles have by far their best team in their current incarnation. 1-2

Cambridge v Dover

Dover’s two most dangerous players, Ricky Miller and Ross Lafayette, were formerly of Luton Town and face their old club’s rivals on Saturday. The duo both played for the Hatters in a third-round clash in January 2015, which Cambridge won to set up a memorable tie with Manchester United. The U’s held Louis Van Gaal’s side 0-0 at the Abbey with 25% possession, thanks to some excellent team defending. However, it’s one thing to keep out Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria – another to stop Miller and Lafayette. 1-2

Charlton v Scunthorpe

In the 1946 FA Cup final, Charlton Athletic’s Bert Turner scored for both sides – his late own goal followed a minute later by an equalizing free-kick. The Addicks recover similarly quickly this season, only trailing for 19 minutes per game on average, but have drawn seven of their last 11. One of them was at Scunthorpe in September, a game in which Charlton defended deep and arguably had the better chances. Scunny have been much stronger throughout the season though and boast their best squad for at least a decade. They will have quality attacking players on the field, whichever team Graham Alexander names. 0-2

Cheltenham v Crewe

In 1960, Crewe lost an FA Cup match 13-2 to Tottenham Hotspur, despite having held them to a 2-2 draw four days earlier. Cheltenham had an FA Cup trip to White Hart Lane themselves more recently, losing 3-0 there in January 2012 and chairman Paul Baker is keen for another cup run. A six game unbeaten league run though means Gary Johnson still harbours hopes of a place in the top seven, where Crewe currently sit. Steve Davis’ side are not in the best of form but are boosted by Alex Kiwomya’s return to fitness. 2-1

Colchester v Chesterfield

These teams enjoyed positive Augusts in their respective divisions, but are now both winless in nine. Chesterfield impressed in the first hour at Coventry on Tuesday, but conceded two in the latter stages and have now shipped nine goals in the final 15 minutes of League One matches. Colchester’s defensive calamities last season indeed, were not restricted to any time frame, and a lack of experience in key areas has hindered them this year. 1-2

Dagenham & Redbridge v Halifax Town

In 2001, Dagenham’s Tony Roberts became the first goalkeeper to score an FA Cup goal. Stopper Elliott Justham’s strong performances over October came largely in his own net, so this time attacking responsibilities lie with Jordan Maguire-Drew. The Brighton loanee likes to cut in from the right and take on defenders, capping his vibrant displays with five goals. Halifax Town’s key loanee has been six-goal Alex Simmons from Lincoln, while fellow forward Tom Denton has the same league tally. 3-1

Dartford v Sutton United

Non-league side Sutton beat Coventry in the Third Round in 1989, two years after their opponents had won the competition. On Saturday, they will be narrow favourites, but hosts Dartford have won their last five National League South games, conceding just one goal in the process. Goalkeeper Deren Ibrahim was rewarded with a call-up to the Gibraltar squad, although he conceded seven seconds into his international debut to Belgium’s Christian Benteke. Ibrahim and key defender Tom Wynter will be hopeful of another win to nil – opponents Sutton have won one of their last five National League encounters. 1-0

Exeter v Luton

When Luton reached the FA Cup Final in 1959, they lost 2-1 to Nottingham Forest but player-manager Syd Owen was subsequently named FWA Footballer of the Year. In 2017, the Hatters aim for promotion to the third tier, while Exeter would settle for staying in the fourth. Injuries problems persist while supporters voice unhappiness at the club’s decline under Paul Tisdale’s management. 0-2

For more FA Cup 1st Round Predictions, see Part Two here.

The Football Lab is sponsored by Classic Football Shirts – check out the world’s biggest collection of football shirts.