Potential FA Cup shocks this weekend
The FA Cup first round remains one of the most eagerly anticipated weekend's on the football calendar and there could be plenty of shocks once again this year.
When many people think of FA Cup shocks the memory of Wimbledon triumphing over Liverpool in the 1988 final or non-league Sutton United beating then top-flight outfit Coventry the following year springs to mind.
More recently Lincoln’s run to the quarter-finals will live long in the memory for all concerned, but there is also potential for a number of shocks in the first round, with teams from League One and Two acting as the big clubs, while non-league sides that could include your local butcher, baker and even candlestick maker will be looking to be the protagonists in their own romantic FA Cup story.
We have had a look at which non-league sides could spring a surprise this weekend and leave the proverbial egg on the face of their Football League opponents.
Friday – Dulwich Hamlet v Carlisle
National League South outfit Dulwich Hamlet will kick off the FA Cup weekend when they welcome League Two strugglers Carlisle to Champion Hill.
Dulwich have gained a bit of a cult following over recent times after they were temporarily forced to leave their ground last year, but they have since returned and are currently on a good run of form, losing just one of their last eight games across all competitions.
Carlisle are struggling at the wrong end of the fourth tier and this promises to be a difficult evening for Steven Pressley’s side under the lights and in front of the TV cameras.
Saturday – Forest Green v Billericay
Dulwich’s National League South rivals Billericay have also gained notoriety over recent years for having an outspoken owner and signing former Premier League players such as Jermaine Pennant, Paul Konchesky and Jamie O’Hara.
O’Hara is now the player-manager at the New Lodge, although things are not going too well in the league for the former Tottenham player, as Billericay are without a win in six National League South games.
However, the Blues have reached the first round proper in each of the last three seasons and this could be the year they make it through to round two, particularly as League Two opponents Forest Green have bigger fish to fry as they try to earn promotion from the fourth tier.
Sunday – Dover Athletic v Southend
This could be the nailed on shock of the weekend given League One Southend’s struggles this season. The Shrimpers have taken just five points form their opening 17 league games this term, conceding a staggering 48 goals in the process.
New manager Sol Campbell has lost each of his first three matches in charge and National League outfit Dover will fancy their chances of springing what may only be regarded as a surprise at first glance.
Sunday – Gateshead v Oldham
Gateshead appeared to be in turmoil during the summer as they were kicked out of the National League due to financial irregularities, but they have since stabled themselves under former Newcastle defender Mike Williamson in the sixth tier.
The Tynesiders have scored 12 goals without reply in this season’s FA Cup and they will welcome another struggling League Two side to the International Stadium on Sunday in Oldham.
The Latics sit 20th in League Two and are already on their second manager of the season in Dino Maamria.
Oldham were FA Cup semi-finalists at recently as 1994 but just making it through the first round would seemingly be an achievement this term.