We’re through the FA Cup First Round, you might think not entirely convincingly, but we are through.
Whether we’d won 6-0, 24-0 or 1-0, the situation would be the same; we’d be in tonight’s draw. Bowers & Pitsea did their best, but it wasn’t a spectacle anyone other than their fans will have enjoyed watching. Some blame us, others blame them, some accept that is often the nature of football. I know I saw a different game to the vocal minority, but it is heartening to know that there’s a silent group of fans who are not disaffected, bored or desperate to get an ‘I told you so’ in whenever they can. There are some fans out there happy with the progress we’re making.
If it’s any consolation, from the age of 10 I rarely saw us get past the first round, and when we did, we never thrashed a team 6-0. When we did get through, we rarely got what I’d term as a decent draw; maybe Bolton at home in 1993/94 was the exception, and I think that was the first time I ever saw us on Sky TV.
With that in mind, I’ve scoured the current FA Cup competitors, those left in the second round, and I’ve picked out the draws I’d quite like, and those I wouldn’t. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy either agreeing, or disagreeing with me, and can do so without resorting to getting mad on Twitter.
We Want: St Albans (A)
There’s a fixation with us being on television, which seems odd given the lack of enthusiasm for actually attending the FA Cup ties. I guess I’m surprised crowds were down across the whole round, I thought the cup would be more of a draw than a game against Shrewsbury, but what do I know?
If we want to be on TV, then a game away at St Albans is the tie we want. They’re giant-killers having beaten Forest Green, and are likely to be picked for TV if they get an away tie. This would be a bit like Northwich in 2010, they beat Charlton before we drew them away and grabbed a spot on the box.
We Don’t Want: Rotherham
Home or away, I don’t care, we don’t want the Millers. Very few games against teams in our league appeal, mainly because it would mean a full-strength side and even then, a poorer chance of progression. The Millers are the best side we’ve seen so far this season and it would be a humdrum tie that television wouldn’t care about.
Maybe, if it was away, we might take a few for the craic, but on the whole, it would probably mean a limited chance of progressing to the Third Round, which has to be the aim.
We Want: Doncaster Rovers
This might seem like an odd pick, given the other ties we could get, but Doncaster would be a great game to play right now. They’re garbage at the moment, they laboured to a win against Scunthorpe (also rubbish), and we owe them, big time. They’ve had some great luck against us in recent years, playing against a weakened side in the Checkatrade, and getting lucky(ish) wins in the league.
We’ve also got them twice before Christmas, and something tells me after January they might be a tougher prospect. Last season, we beat a team three times, twice in the league and once in the cup (Crewe) and I think we’d be in with a decent chance of doing the same to them three times in a month.
We Don’t Want: Shrewsbury
You think Bowers & Pitsea was a negative game we should have won? Well, if that bored you, imagine what a tie with Shrewsbury could do. Every time we’ve faced Salop in the league, they’ve been a defensive unit, three at the back, and we’ve struggled to break them down. The recent draw in the league was uninspiring because of their stubborn refusal to play football, and an FA Cup tie would be no different.
Plus, we’ve already played them twice this season, and I can’t face a campaign in which I have to watch them stop us functioning on four occasions. I just can’t.
We Want: Buxton
They might have beaten York City in the last round, but on paper, they’d be one of the weaker sides left in the competition. I’m all for that, not because I’m complacent, but because I quite fancy seeing the likes of Sanders, Roughan and Draper start a game again. Home or away wouldn’t bother me, but we do like a lower division team beginning with ‘B’ (Billingham, Bracknell and Bowers), so why not make it a nice quartet?
Away would be fine as well, a new ground to tick off for those lucky enough to get tickets, and maybe the TV cameras too. That’s the sort of tie we want, although I imagine it would be the same game of ‘come and get us’ as the weekend.
We Don’t Want: Sheffield Wednesday or Plymouth Argyle (A)
Urgh, can you imagine? Two decent teams, for a start, and two trips I wouldn’t relish as a fan. Firstly, we all know what happened at Hillsborough last month, and another trip there so quickly after the first would be a recipe for disaster; I couldn’t stand our fans letting themselves down, nor the decent 95% being labelled by South Yorkshire Police. I certainly have no desire to deal with that awkward concourse and less-than-ideal away end either.
As for a trip to Plymouth, it’s a no from me. We haven’t won there since 1982, and the last three trips to the south coast have seen us score 11, and twice get eliminated from the FA Cup. Good lord, I’d rather get Barrow away, and walk there.
We Want: Mansfield Town (H)
Yep, that’s right. I’d love to get them at our place, for no reason other than they’re pretty shit right now, and I think it’s a winnable tie. Besides, I kinda miss the old faces, Grimsby, Mansfield and the like. They’re good derbies and it would be nice to lord it over them with our League One status for a bit. We can’t get Grimsby (cheers Kiddie), so why not give the Stags a spanking?
I think they’d come to play football too, especially as their fans need a lift after some tough matches. I’m going to gloss over their win against Sunderland and the potential banana skin. I just want to have an old adversary round for tea, and serve them a shit-sandwich with a Chris Maguire winner for dessert. Besides, it’s one of the few ties likely to attract a 7,000+ crowd.
We Don’t Want: Portsmouth
I just couldn’t start the promotional stuff. We’ve seen stories about Danny and Portsmouth recently and they’re only going to increase ahead of their visit here later in the month. Can you imagine the fervour if we drew them in the FA Cup? I mean, I love looking at replays of Ipswich, Brighton and Burnley, but there’s only so much a man can take.
Besides, a tie like that would surely bring Justin Allen out of the woodwork, and nobody wants that. Could be a good opportunity for a half-and-half scarf to appear from one of those unlicensed vendors of tat. It’s just a massive, massive no. In fact, it’s enough to make the rest of us wish Bowers hadn’t just hit the crossbar early doors, like the rogue 5% of those Lincoln City Twitter trolls.