By Jon Harries & Colin Butler
This weekend we find ourselves involved in the biggest and most prestigious domestic trophy competition in the world, yes folks it’s the romance and the drama of the FA Cup, where for weeks minor league teams up and down the country have battled it out over 595 matches for the honour to play a Football League team in the FA Cup 1st Round Proper, and not forgetting the money that comes with it, because for even getting this far teams will have a nice little payday that could support them for months if not years.
Of course, this season it’s going to be so much different with fans not being allowed in, which is sad because that was part of the attraction for the minnows of football and indeed Football League fans as you got to visit with any luck a club you wouldn’t normally get a chance to, who wouldn’t want to visit Skelmersdale United the lowest ranked team left in the competition.
The football minnows have nothing to lose, a big day out in the limelight and in the shop window for the players, a big pay day it they win , lose or draw, and probably a bit of exposure on National TV and in the media, the chance for the day to be stars. For the Football League teams though these are nervy times, perhaps an opportunity to field some less experienced players, but mindful they don’t want to be humiliated and end up on the back pages of the nationals, it is a balancing act and so far that has not happened to us as every time we have faced non-league opposition we have dispatched them, not always convincingly, but nevertheless we’ve got the job done.
Our banana skin awaits in the form of Hampshire team, Eastleigh from the National League which is the 5th tier of English football. The Spitfires currently sit in 5th spot in the table with just one defeat to their name this season and a record of PLAYED 6, WON 3, DRAWN 2, LOST 1, GF 14 & GA 9.
One little nugget of info for you before Jon presses on with the preview, Eastleigh were formed in 1946 and without a nickname until 2005 and following a supporter poll were christened the Spitfires. The name coming from the fact that the WW2 Spitfire aeroplane was first built in Southampton and embarked on its maiden flight from Eastleigh Aerodrome in March 1936 and is now Southampton Airport………. Right, over to you Jon.
The 1st Round of the FA Cup and alongside the first game of the season, it’s a date the whole football community looks forward to with trips to grounds you don’t normally visit, and all with the smell of a giant killing in the air. Unfortunately, this season some of “the Magic of the Cup” has been taken away with lockdown yet again taking effect.
Our first round this year takes us to the Ten Acres Silverlake Stadium, home of National League side Eastleigh. Located in Hampshire, Ben Stevens side currently sit fifth in the League and are three points and a game in hand behind early pace setters Torquay United (who they have already beaten), they look set for a decent season, and if you weren’t already aware, the Spitfires are no pushovers and shouldn’t be taken lightly by Russ, the team, or us the fans.
MK Dons on the other hand need to find some confidence in front of goal and fast, and these next two cup games could provide an opportunity to do that and make their possession count and turn it into goals. The last two performances in the final third have been lacklustre with Martin’s team unable to break down Northampton on Tues and were possibly lucky to get a point at home to Opponent on the balance of quality of chances. Defensively we are looking more organised, we just need more creativity and innovation in the final third and in front of goal. I am expecting some rotation with October being a competitive month with a lot of Tuesday night fixtures and the quick turnaround for Saturdays.
Eastleigh come into this fixture on the back of a win last weekend at Bromley, Ben House with a six-minute brace just after halftime doing the damage. Looking deeper into their fixtures they are hard to beat losing only one of their first six games. Goals are definitely not a problem either with only the league leaders scoring more so far this season. In midfield they have Jack Payne formerly of Peterborough United who the Spitfires will be looking at to be the creative spark to cause an upset. He has played at a higher level previously and is possibly the most recognisable name to Dons Supporters.
As already mentioned Ben House has been in a rich vein of form for the Spitfires and will be a threat to watch out for, you could say he is playing like a House on fire (I’ll get my coat). Cavanagh Miley is another goal threat from midfield whilst in defence Pierce Bird will be looking to protect goalkeeper Joe McDonnell.
Nicholls Williams – O’Hora – Keogh – Cargill – HarvieKasumu – Sorensen – Gladwin Mason – Walker
I think Nicholls will get one of the next two games just for his confidence although it wouldn’t surprise me if Fisher were in on Sunday. This is a big opportunity for Williams, Cargill, Sorensen, Gladwin, and Mason to stake their claim in the side, I’m also expecting Bird and Freeman to be on the bench.
I’m going for a 2-1 MK Dons win, Mason and Sorenson with the goals, but be warned this has all the ingredients for an upset, so mentality has to be on point.
Finally, I’d just like to thank the Editor for all his hard work over the past months. I know it’s been non-stop for him but I’m grateful for this opportunity.
Editor – You had me at finally Jon, and also apologies to everyone if Jon & Colin have duplicated some of the facts and figures regarding Eastleigh, but we didn’t want to sell you short on this FA Cup weekend on what we hope you found an enjoyable read.
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