It’s FA Cup weekend and teams up and down the country will be desperate to edge one step closer to the prospect of trips to Old Trafford, Anfield, and Wembley in the world’s greatest domestic cup competition.
Just two games stand in their way, and we’re backing three home teams to clear this hurdle without the need for a replay. At odds of just under 4/1 for three clear favourites, it has to be worth a punt.
Colchester United v Oxford City
Despite enduring a topsy-turvy season thus far, John McGreal’s men enter FA Cup weekend on the back of a run in which they’ve lost just one of their last five competitive matches. With home advantage on their side, the League Two side should be expected to overcome a spirited Oxford City.
The visitors, who are currently in the National League South’s relegation zone, have lost five of their last seven away matches and know that they’ll be up against it as they visit the Weston Home Community Stadium. Even a tight defeat would be considered a moral victory.
While the hosts may not be the most consistent side in their division, they have been quite regular on the scoring front. Mikael Mandron, Sam Szmodics and Brandan Hanlan are all capable of finding the net and should be licking their lips in anticipation of this one. After all, there’s a good chance that the hosts will enjoy most of the play and the chances.
It might have been a different story in Oxford. In Essex, though, we’re backing the Eagles to soar through to round two in style.
Gateshead v Chelmsford City
Chelmsford City are enjoying a brilliant season in the National League South and will have high hopes of facing Gateshead in the league next term. Nonetheless, they are still someway short of the National League’s quality. This, combined with the long trip to the north east, gives us every reason to think they’ll come up short on Saturday.
Gateshead are struggling a little, but their home form isn’t bad at all. A return of 12 goals scored and six conceded has seen them register four wins and three draws from their nine league encounters. Steve Watson has already tightened up the defence since taking charge too, which could mean chances will be few and far between for the visitors.
At the other end, Jordan Burrow and Dan Johnson should be ready to convert any chances that fall their way. If they can get their noses in front with the game’s opening goal, there’s every chance that they will go on to see this one without too much hassle.
The gulf in quality might not be huge, but it’s big enough to make a difference here. Home win.
Gillingham v Leyton Orient
Both Gillingham and Leyton Orient have endured difficult times in recent months and this cup clash at Priestfield will be a welcome distraction for both. With a relegation battle on their hands, it’s the hosts who could really do with the motivational boost. We think that they’ll get it on home turf.
The managerial situation hasn’t helped the League One outfit one bit, but they do enter this clash on the back of an important 3-1 win at Rotherham and will want to keep their run going. Tom Eaves and co. should be ready to punish an Orient team that has shipped 18 in nine away games in the National League.
While the visitors have scored 11 times in those matches, it’s worth noting that they’ve registered three blanks in their last five matches too. Steven Davis’ men aren’t performing to their full potential, and its hard to see how they will turn it on against a team from two divisions above.
Gillingham will probably make it harder than they’d like, but we do expect them to prevail.