MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) made a packet on the FA Cup first round. Can he continue his good run with Monday night’s concluding tie in Manchester?
FC United v Chesterfield | Monday 19.45 | BT Sport 2
Ten years since forming, FC United make their second appearance in the FA Cup first round having knocked out Manchester rivals Rochdale five years previously. Brighton eventually ended the Red Rebels' run but only after a replay and manager Karl Marginson is determined to add Chesterfield to their giant-killing list on Monday night.
A record crowd of 4,400 will be in attendance at the community-run club’s new Broadhurst Park Stadium but United weren’t too pleased to see their traditional 3pm kick-off moved to accommodate the live television cameras. The hosts pride themselves on their football values, being set-up in the wake of the Glazer takeover by followers of Manchester United who had grown tired of modern football.
FC, now a National League North side, have galloped through the divisions since starting in the 10th tier with four promotions and now sit just two divisions outside the Football League. But players have struggled since promotion last summer, losing seven times and residing in 17th, just two points above the relegation zone.
Marginson has remained manager throughout and admits six consecutive defeats is a real matter for concern with Tuesday’s disappointing loss to Telford potentially forcing a re-think and up to six changes to his starting XI.
“I’m terribly disappointed after that defeat to Telford and there were a lot of players out there that aren’t performing at the moment. I said to the players before the game that this is a chance to put themselves forward for a start on Monday, but now we’ll have to see what happens” said the home boss.
Only two teams have conceded more goals than United in the National League North this season, and Marginson was less than impressed with his side’s defending. “One of the things that we set out to do was get back to keeping clean sheets, but we could have been playing an U12 team on Tuesday and we still would have conceded goals the way we were playing,” he added.
In contrast, Chesterfield make the journey across the Pennines having won three of their last four and with an unbeaten October under their belts. The Spireites form warranted a League One manager of the month nomination for boss Dean Saunders.
The visitors made the fourth round of the FA Cup last season, their best showing since 1996, and have dispatched non-league opposition in each of their last five ties. With Dan Jones back from suspension and loanee Richard Wood given permission to play, Saunders has a strong squad available to ensure progress is made without too many hiccups.
Chesterfield boast a solid centre-half base with Ian Evatt partnered by Sam Hird and with Chris Hird and Sam Morsy operating in the space in front, the visitors’ spine and defensive shape should stand them in good stead. But backing the Spireites at 1/2 quotes is understandable unacceptable.
Instead, Chesterfield -1 in the Asian Handicap market appeals at 4/5 with Bet365. We’ll get our cash back should Saunders’ troops win the match by a solitary goal. But should they win by two or more goals, we’ll be in profit. The only way in which we’ll end up out of pocket is if FC United draw or win.
The hosts are in a rut and have kept just one clean sheet in eight National League North outings in front of their home fans. The FA Cup is always a bit of a leveller but I do expect Football League class to shine through in front of the cameras.
FC United v Chesterfield – Chesterfield -1 Asian Handicap (4/5 Bet365)
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