Chorley vs Derby | Saturday 9th January 2021, 12:15 | BT Sport
Amidst a coronavirus outbreak in the first team, such that has seen the training ground forced to close, Derby travel to Chorley for a tricky FA Cup with very limited experience in men’s football in their armoury.
Interim manager Wayne Rooney will not be travelling with the squad that is expected to be made up of U23 and U18 players. This will give Chorley a lot greater chance of winning, in what probably would not go down as an upset.
The Magpies have earned their spot in the 3rd Round having beaten League One sides Wigan and Peterborough in the last two stages. They sit 83 places below the Rams in the football pyramid, 10th in the National League North, following relegation from the National League last term, compared to 22nd in the Championship.
The hosts’ last three outings have all seen Over 2.5 Goals and I would expect no difference here, their last two FA Cup matches have brought the same and drawing a blank against the Rams youth would be a huge surprise.
Expect plenty of energy from the youngsters but that will be combined with naivety at this level, Chorley are the more experienced bunch and that will count for a lot in one of the biggest matches of the club’s history.
The Magpies are just three points outside the play-off places in the National League North and given they will continue to play without fans, the cash they will receive for reaching the fourth round could change the whole outlook of the club. Many are suffering severe financial issues and an extra £180,000 for beating Derby could be a critical achievement in the club’s long term future.
Chorley have played just 14 league games this term compared to Derby’s 22, however youth football has slowed since the second wave gathered pace and so match fitness could be lacking along with the physicality of the Rams young guns.
The U23 squad, who currently occupy fifth place in Premier League 2, the highest division in the country for the age bracket, have not played a match since December 21. That almost three week gap in between matches will count for something while strength and physique will be a concern, non league football is typically very physical, a challenge that some of these youngsters may not be up to.
The betting angle
They are certainly a talented bunch, probably the best U23 squad outside the Premier League clubs. So if any side can put up with the disadvantage of losing their whole first team, it is Derby.
But with the belief fuelled by victories over two League One clubs and former FA Cup winners Wigan in the last couple of rounds, Chorley have to be slight favourites.
Home advantage may come into it a touch with the standard of surfaces usually significantly poorer in semi professional football.
Chorley vs Derby – Over 3 Asian Goals (1/1 Bet365)