National League side Chesterfield will be eager to avoid a memorable upset as this season’s FA Cup proper kicks off this weekend – up against non-league Billericay Town in one of tomorrow’s 3pm fixtures.
It will serve as welcome respite from National League football for Saturday’s hosts, who have recorded three consecutive 1-1 draws.
Wrexham, as well as away trips to Sutton and Harrogate have only resulted in three points – they’ve only won three games in 19 this season, which all came from matchday one against Ebbsfleet.
Saturday’s visitors, Billericay, are enjoying an unbeaten run across all competitions – since their 2-1 away defeat by Woking on September 1. They’ve played 11 matches since then, with their most recent also being a draw against Torquay last weekend.
Adam Cunnington netted a second-half brace to ensure the points were shared, after Saikou Janneh – previously at Bristol City – did the same before the break.
Tale of the tape
Tomorrow’s clash will represent the first in history between the two sides.
Chesterfield were 3-1 winners over fellow National League side AFC Fylde last month, which secured their passage into the competition proper. Billericay meanwhile, had a more strenuous route but relished it all the same. They beat Burnham, Whitehawk and Taunton – the latter following a replay (2-2 draw prior) last month.
Chesterfield’s league struggles have already been emphasised but they unsurprisingly sit just outside the relegation zone, on goal difference. In contrast, Billericay are top of the National League South, three points clear of closest rivals Welling and Woking in the current standings.
Spireites manager Martin Allen is expected to field a similar starting line-up to the one which drew last Saturday.
Midfielder Jonathan Smith is expected to feature too, as today it was announced he’s signed a permanent deal. An 18-month contract from Stevenage, he’s netted three goals in his last three games – though some supporters have voiced their discontent on Twitter.
In terms of memorable names, Laurence Maguire – younger brother of Leicester’s Harry and former West Ham winger Zavon Hines are two to watch out for. As for the visitors, journeyman midfielder Jamie O’Hara is among their ranks and will be eager to stamp his authority on the game in a creative sense too.
Who said what?
“Another club had come in for him so we had to rush that one through and try get it done pretty quick. He found out about it and turned it down to stay here, so that was a relief.” – Martin Allen on Smith’s future
“He’s done very well and has been a good signing. He’s fit into the team very well and his goals have been a bonus,” the boss continued.
“We’re up against a good team and a well-run club in Billericay. Are we favourites or are they favourites? Well, it’s the FA Cup and when it comes to FA Cup day from my past experiences, it doesn’t really matter what league you’re in. The FA Cup is a great leveller, right across the board.” – Allen on who is more favoured ahead of kick-off
“These are the games everyone at the club wants to be involved in, there has been a real buzz around the club this week. This is the level we want to be playing at, week-in, week-out.” – Billericay boss Dean Brennan reveals his thoughts
“We know it’s going to be a physical game but we are looking forward to the challenge – it’s a first for me going into a game as the underdogs! It’s a special weekend for all non-league clubs.” – An upset on the horizon?
“It’s a bit of a sticky tie for them rather than us. We’ll be going there looking to upset people. It’s nice the pressure is on the opposition for once because we are normally the favourites to win.” – Billericay captain Sam Deering
On paper, Chesterfield should have enough quality to avoid an upset at home in this one. Their frustrating league form is another reason why this competition can prove a welcome distraction for them going forward.
With that being said, it’s the magical FA Cup. If the visitors start brightly, who knows what can happen?