FA Cup first round: Four Manchester non-league minnows hunt for Football League scalps

The FA Cup first round kick-starts in earnest tonight with Salford City the first of four Manchester non-league sides out to cause an upset against Football League opponents.

There are 40 ties to be played in all, culminating on Monday night when FC United of Manchester, also televised, host Chesterfield.

With six of those ties being all non-league encounters, representation from outside the Football League is guaranteed in round two.

MM takes a look at the four key hook-ups as Salford, FC United, Stalybridge Celtic and Altrincham aim to slay relative giants and prolong their own FA Cup romance into that second round.

Salford City v Notts County (Friday, 19.55 GMT)

Three divisions separate Salford and Notts County, who hold the label of “oldest professional club” in the world and currently sit 15th in League Two.

But with three wins over higher league opposition en route to a first round berth – after entry in the first qualifying round – an upset is in the Ammies repertoire.

With last season’s top scorer Gareth Seddon out, the onus may fall on in-form James Poole whose stunning 40-yard strike secured their 1-0 victory over Southport at Moss Lane in the last round.

The Evo-Stik side’s five-match winning run in the league was ended last week when visitors Matlock scored a stoppage-time equaliser.

Regardless, in front of live BBC cameras, twenty-four hours after the second part of a TV documentary covering the Class of 92’s purchase of the club, the Ammies will be determined to prove they are not ‘out of their league’.

Notts County meanwhile – looking to dump their hosts ‘out of the cup’ – are likely to play the same side that beat 2008 FA Cup winners Portsmouth in the league last Saturday.

That is a side that includes former Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll and midfielder Alan Smith.

Doncaster Rovers v Stalybridge Celtic (Saturday, 15.00 GMT)

Stalybridge Celtic will make the near-50 mile trip across to Doncaster Rovers as they look to advance to the second round for only the second time in their history.

Liam Watson’s men face stern opposition in a Donny side that is hovering just above League One’s relegation zone.

Stalybridge edged into the first round proper by beating North Ferriby United on penalties after a fourth qualifying round replay.

They will be looking at the likes of joint-leading scorers Steve Tames and Darius Osei to spearhead their challenge.

This is the Celts first appearance in this round in 12 years, while it is 16 years since they progressed into round two.

Meanwhile it is eight years since Doncaster failed to progress from the first round.

Altrincham v Barnsley (Saturday, 15.00 GMT)

FA Cup giant-killers Altrincham take on League One outfit Barnsley at Moss Lane, with fans hoping their current outfit can replicate squads of old.

The Robins have a storied history of knocking out higher-league opposition, with runs in the 1970s and 1980s proving to be their peak years.

In 1986 Altrincham secured a memorable 2-1 victory away to Birmingham City, who were then playing in England’s top flight.

The side also earned a replay out of Tottenham Hotspur in 1979 after earning a 1 -1 draw at White Hart Lane but the London side recovered and won 3-0 at Maine Road.

The Vanarama National League side will sense that they have a chance against the Tykes, who currently sit 22nd in their league having lost seven games on the bounce.

Altrincham will be buoyed on by a huge home crowd, with a figure of 3000 reportedly earmarked to be in attendance on Saturday afternoon.

FC United of Manchester v Chesterfield (Monday, 19.45 GMT)

Despite initial refusal to the FA’s decision to move the game for live coverage, it will be Monday night football for FC United, a concept the club labelled as ‘a TV invention’.

As a result many fans are set to remain outside the ground during the first half – in protest at the FA – and only enter after the break.

On the pitch, like their local non-league counterparts, they’ll be hoping to forge some inspired cup ‘magic’ against Chesterfield in front of a packed Broadhurst Park.

The visitors sit 11th in League One, three divisions above their hosts, with four wins from their last six matches including three out of three away.

Meanwhile, the Rebels have been struggling, losing their last six games after a 3-1 defeat at home to Telford in their last match.

Yet, league form can often go out the window when it comes to the FA Cup, and FC United will harbour dreams of re-creating their 2010 cup run.

That year they defeated Rochdale – also of League One – 3-2 away in this round thanks to Mike Norton’s injury-time winner.

Image courtesy of Salford City FC via YouTube, with thanks.

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