Notts County host struggling Blue Square Premier side Forest Green Rovers at Meadow Lane today (as long as the pitch survives the cold weather) in a bid to make the fourth round of the competition for the first time in four years. After Saturday's results the two sides are two of only three from below League One left in the competition and are competing for a place in the draw which takes place at 6:15pm live on ITV1.
The road to round three...
Firstly we're going to do a feature that is usually reserved for overly nostalgic pieces on FA Cup final day - looking at the two sides' performances in the competition so far.
Round One - Notts County 2-1 Bradford City
The Magpies booked their place in round two on a freezing Friday night at Meadow Lane as they saw off fellow League Two side Bradford City. An even first half looked to be finishing scoreless before Karl Hawley's shot deflected past Bradford 'keeper Simon Eastwood and a final solo run and finish from Johnnie Jackson just after the break sealed the win. Michael Boulding broke free to pull one back but the Magpies held on.
Round Two - AFC Bournemouth 1-2 Notts County
A tricky looking second round trip to the seaside awaited as the Magpies travelled to face League Two high flyers Bournemouth at Dean Court. The Cherries were on top in the first half and took the lead when a flimsy offside trap allowed Brett Pitman through to slot past Kasper Schmeichel, but the Magpies came out reinvigorated in the second half and goals from Lee Hughes and Craig Westcarr in quick succession booked our place in the third round hat.
Forest Green Rovers
Fourth Qualifying Round - Mangotsfield United 1-2 Forest Green Rovers
Rovers booked their place in the competition proper by seeing off Mangotsfield United of the Zamaretto South and West division. An early penalty from David Brown gave the visitors a lead but the minnows held on until Steve Davies doubled the lead late on. James Pilling pulled a back immediately after a howler from Rovers 'keeper Terry Burton but the visitors held on.
Round One - Forest Green Rovers 1-1 Mansfield Town
An all Blue Square Premier tie at the New Lawn was drawn after the Stags managed a late equaliser to avoid a minor shock. The hosts dominated early on and deserved the lead that was given to them by right back Jared Hodgkiss and they dominated proceeding from that moment but were denied in injury time as Scott Garner booked a replay at Field Mill.
Round One Replay - Mansfield Town 1-2 Forest Green Rovers
After injury time heartbreak at the New Lawn Rovers felt the other side of the coin at Field Mill as Conal Platt's late, late goal sealed their passage into round two. Once again the strugglers dominated and Platt fired them infront five minutes before half time with a sublime free kick to stun the Stags. Kyle Perry undeservedly levelled but after that strike the hosts took control and looked likely winners until Platt struck deep into injury time to secure victory.
Round Two - Bath City 1-2 Forest Green Rovers
A second straight FA Cup third round appearance was sealed for Rovers as they saw off Bath City in a fiery affair at Twerton Park. The hosts had won away at League Two side Grimsby Town in the first round and must've fancied their chances against a Rovers side struggling only one tier above them. Jonathan Smith gave the visitors the lead in the sun but they were pegged back by a goal from Lewis Hogg. Mark Preece, one of few survivors from last year's epic cup run, was the man to seal the win though as Rovers celebrated their second appearance at this stage.
One to watch...
NCM decides on a likely dangerman for our non-league visitors and after much deliberation we plump for winger CONAL PLATT.
A former Liverpool trainee, Platt is a tricky winger or forward who can score spectacular goals and has the potential to turn a game on it's head. A former Bournemouth, Morecambe and Rushden man, Platt scored both goals at Field Mill to knock Mansfield out of the competition - including a superb free kick from long range. Platt has become known for being able to produce the spectacular and unpredictable and his versatility is extremely useful. Wherever he plays this afternoon, the Magpies' defence will have to keep him quiet to ensure there's no surprises at Meadow Lane.
Loanees Matt Ritchie, Daniel Jones and Brendan Moloney have all returned to their parent clubs after being in the squad at Burton Albion, so will obviously be unavailable for this clash. Delroy Facey has extended his loan spell at Lincoln City meanwhile so will also be unavailable for selection whilst Jamie Clapham also looks set to miss out through injury, so Johnnie Jackson is likely to fill in at left back. Mike Edwards for Brendan Moloney is likely to be the only change from Monday's 4-1 triumph at the Pirelli Stadium.
Forest Green Rovers:-
Rovers are struggling to field a full complement of players with fitness issues and a number of players being cup tied. Craig Rocastle, Oli Thorne and Dave Wilkinson have all played in the competition already for other sides so will be unavailable, whilst key man Jonathan Smith is suspended. Mark Preece, Tomi Ameobi and Curtis McDonald are all struggling with injury and could miss out whilst Andy Mangan is available after returning from a six-month ban but is unlikely to play any part in the match. Ben Watson signed on loan from Exeter City but picked up a knock in his first training session so has been sent back to St. James' Park, but fellow new boys Jack Winter and former Magpie Tyrone Berry could be debutants for Rovers.