FA Cup Preview

The first round of the F.A Cup gets underway this weekend with the television cameras making the short trip from Media City, up to Moor Lane where Salford City will host the Magpies - it is the first time 7th tier side Salford City have reached the first round. Notts will be looking to avoid a repeat of previous performances against non-league opposition in the form of Havant & Waterlooville, Kettering Town & Southport (who Salford duly knocked out in the final qualifying round to save us the possibility of another 4-2 humbling at the hands of the Conference side).

The Ammies only conceded 3 goals in 6 qualifying matches to reach this stage, with a squad containing 7 former football league players including ex-Hartlepool midfielder James Poole (who started in Chris Kiwomya's final game in charge, a 3-2 defeat in the F.A Cup first round at the hands of the Monkey Hangers) as well as former Premier League striker Danny Webber. Combine an expected sell-out crowd at Moor Lane with the magic of the F.A Cup and the game looks far less of a foregone conclusion than at first glance.

Another anomaly with Salford City is the fact the club is wealthier than the majority of league clubs, with the additional backing of Malaysian businessman Peter Lim who alongside the former Manchester United stars - owns the Salford club. With the second part of the 'Class of 92' BBC documentary airing Thursday evening, interest should be peaked for the game and as with any F.A Cup tie, it'll be the underdogs who the armchair fans will be cheering on. Notts can expect no sympathy or support from anyone other than a few Liverpool and Man City fans who just want to see Gary Neville looking miserable. As if he's capable of any other expression.

Fortunately, Salford's home form is just about the same as Notts' away form, having picked up 6 points at home from a possible 21, whilst Notts have accumulated the same amount of points from one extra game on the road so far this season. The solidarity away win coming on the opening day away at Stevenage.

Notts were knocked out of the competition by lower-league opposition last season, losing 2-1 to Accrington Stanley in a replay after the League Two side had held Notts to a 0-0 draw at home. Had Notts progressed past Accrington and struggling Yeovil Town in the second round - they would have faced Manchester United in the 3rd round at Meadow Lane. Notts also missed out on a 5th round home tie against Tottenham in 2012 after losing to Stevenage.

However Notts' recent overall record in the competition isn't to be sniffed at - having beaten Premier League opposition in the form of Sunderland & Wigan Athletic as well as holding a star-studded Manchester City side to a 1-1 draw at Meadow Lane in the not-so-distant past. Notts have also dispatched of a few non-league sides including Gravesend & Northfleet, Forest Green Rovers and Sutton United.

Salford City are the lowest placed team Notts have faced in the competition since they beat Shildon 7-2 (goals courtesy of Barras, Nicholson and Richardson amongst others) in 2003 and fans will be hoping for a similar result come 10pm Friday evening.

With Notts looking more resilient recently and a difference of 3 leagues between the teams, a professional and disciplined performance should see Notts through to the second round and collect their first win in the competition since beating Saturday's defeated opponents Portsmouth in 2012.

NCM Prediction: Salford City 1 - 2 Notts County.


Notts' record over the last 5 Seasons:

2014-15 - 1st Round Accrington Stanley 2-1 Loss in replay
2013-14 - 1st Round Hartlepool 3-2 Loss
2012-13 - 2nd Round Rotherham 3-0 Loss in replay
2011-12 - 4th Round Stevenage 2-0 Loss
2010-11 - 4th Round Man City 5-0 Loss in replay

Salford's run so far:

1st Qualifying - Whitby Town (7th Tier) 1-1 (5-0 in replay)
2nd Qualifying - Curzon Ashton (6th Tier) 2-1
3rd Qualifying - Bradford Park Avenue (6th Tier) 1-1 (1-0 in replay)
4th Qualifying - Southport (5th Tier) 1-0