Southgate's Boro await Stags

Last updated : 24 January 2008 By Gary Moss
Last week NCM spoke about the shocks served up already this season in League Two.

But with the FA Cup on the agenda this weekend, the issue of shocks could not be more prominent.

They call it the magic of the FA Cup - I am not sure everyone would agree.

I'd say : "Cruel to be kind"

Sure, Havant and Waterlooville would go along with the former as they book their trip to Anfield to face Rafa Benitez's Liverpool.
Harrogate Railway...Nearly shocked Mansfield

But, what about poor Notts County or League One leaders Swansea City who fell victim to the Conference South minnows.

'Magic of the FA Cup' - I bet they're sick of that phrase by now.

Elsewhere, there was no magic for struggling Championship outfit Colchester who were woefully outclassed by League One promotion hopefuls Peterborough - a further indication of what test lies ahead for them in a bid to retain second tier status.

It doesn't stop there - Mansfield nearly came a cropper to Unibond side Harrogate Railway in the second round.

But instead they squeezed through by the skin of their teeth and can now relish a battle on Saturday against Premiership Middlesbrough, proving the fine line between glorious success and embarassing failure in the FA Cup.

You could go on but why look back when our four remaining League Two representatives are a possible 90 minutes away from the last 16.

Game of the day:
Mansfield v Middlesbrough

Billy Dearden by his own admission "loves clean sheets" but it has been the
Boulding...Goal threat for Stags
lack of discipline at the back this season that has cost them a place in the comfort of midtable.

The Stags have conceded 36 goals in the league so far this term and as a result take their place in the relegation zone.

Michael Boulding has been the one shining light this term scoring 15 goals so far in all competitions.

Without his impressive contribution Notts' rivals may well be buried in terms of survival already.

Boulding's eye for goal could be the key factor in Saturday's clash too - against Premiership opposition chances may be few and far between and his job of waiting for that one golden chance may make all the difference.

Boro may fear this tie as a potential 'banana skin' against the Football
Tuncay...Boro influence
League's 91st ranked team, but considering their recent Premiership form they should simply brush the Stags aside - but we know too well the FA Cup and moreso football does not work like that.

One loss in five for Southgate's men has seen them steer clear of trouble in the league and a healthy return from Turkish striker Tuncay has seen the gloom lifted from the Riverside. His influence could play a part.

This is a big day for Mansfield where they cannot lose - but for Boro their pride is at stake against an expected million plus lunchtime crowd around Britain.

The Stags are expected to lose and heavily at that but with Boro fans expecting nothing less than a safe passage - can Town cause an upset?

NCM Prediction: No shocks here I'm sad to say! Boro will have too much for the lowly Stags! Expect a breakthrough just before the interval

Elsewhere in the FA Cup...

Underhill prepares to play to a battle of the penalty shoot-out winners as
Mowbray...Attacking brand at West Brom
Barnet go head-to-head with last seasons League Two play-off winners Bristol Rovers.

The Bees took the scalp of fellow League One side Swindon Town, while the Pirates shocked Premiership Fulham after holding them to a goaless draw at the Memorial Ground.

Joe O'Cearuill sent Fairclough's men through with the deciding spot kick.

Posh dispatched of Championship strugglers Colchester easily enough but how will they fare this time against big guns West Brom.

Tony Mowbray has rejuvinated football at the Hawthornes to a more attacking brand and with Posh the hosts this promises goals of the plenty.

And finally, Bury's reward for their win against Norwich is another Championship side - Southampton at St Marys.

The Saints have been unusually average at home this term already losing five times to give the Shakers hope.

In League Two...

Wrexham will be hoping to build on their win against leaders MK Dons as they host Bradford.

The Dragons are boosted by the arrivals of Carl Tremarco from Tranmere and Robbie Garrett from Stoke.
Nicholson...Wrexham arrival

West Brom's Stuart Nicholson and Jeff Whitley also arrive as Brian Little's shake up continues.

The Bantams on the other hand are trying to shift players with four names placed on the transfer list this week.

Chesterfield enjoyed a heavy 4-0 crushing of Hereford on Monday and next up it's Wycombe for Lee Richardson's men.

The sides are seperated by just two points and this promises to be a vital play-off dual.
At the bottom, Lincoln go into their relegation clash with Mark Stallard back available.

The Imps welcomed back the former Notts man to training earlier this week and the veteran could be in line for a rare start.

Full fixture list:

FA Cup

Mansfield v Middlesbrough

Barnet v Bristol Rovers

Peterborough United v West Brom

Southampton v Bury

League Two

Chester v Rotherham

Darlington v Macclesfield

Grimsby v Shrewsbury

Lincoln v Dagenham and Redbridge

Morecambe v Notts County

Wrexham v Bradford

Wycombe v Chesterfield