This weekend sees League Two clubs enter the FA Cup.
But this is not the beginning of the competition, that happened way back on the first Saturday in August when over 700 teams began in an Extra Preliminary Round, dreaming of this day when they host or head to a Football League club.
On the other side of the coin are the Football League clubs, potential banana skins in front of them, teams with nothing to lose. For some it will be a welcome escape from poor league form but this one off cup match could easily spell the end for any under pressure manager.
This year’s First Round draw has thrown up games which some League Two bosses won’t be looking forward to.
One of this season’s promotion favourites who are under-performing, Mansfield Town, will be under the spotlight from the BBC cameras, travelling to Shaw Lane from the Evo-Stik League. Mansfield’s manager Steve Evans is no stranger to non-league, but pitches, a passionate full house of supporters and those cameras primed for an upset stacks everything into Lane’s favour, nothing to lose for them.
Before the other ties kick off at 3pm, Mansfield could already be a footnote in this year’s competition.
By 5pm, dreams and hopes are dashed for another year. Whilst the non-league clubs aim for this round, the lower reaches of the Football League have their eyes on round 3, a payday from a visiting Premier League side or a trip to Old Trafford can set a club up for a couple of seasons.
Falling at the first hurdle
But to get to that level, there are obstacles that need to be dealt with. And some clubs will fall at the first hurdle.
There will be the likes of Forest Green and Morecambe, despite home advantage, not relishing facing National League sides Macclesfield and Hartlepool.
The League Two leaders Notts County will fancy their chances hosting Bristol Rovers, Rovers with no draws to their name this season suggests the game will be won on the day and with County in fantastic form at the top of the table, have the edge on their western visitors.
Swindon and Accrington, on their travels, will not take either Dartford or Guiesley lightly, the former leading the Conference South at the time of writing and a full house at Princes Park will ensure the Robins know they’ve been in a game. Stanley are in a really good run of form and will fancy their chances of progressing to the second round.
Cheltenham won’t relish a visit from Maidstone Utd, the Stones currently sit in the National League play offs places and will run the Robins hard to get a result.
With no all-League Two ties, the 24 sides will have to work hard to ensure they are in the hat for Monday’s Second Round draw.
Written by Trevor Knell
Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37
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