"Round a Quaker’s Beaver cast a glory"
It’s that time of the year again - the 1st round proper of the “proper” Cup competition, when the prospect of minnows facing giants looms large … and this year the upsets could start as early as the 1st round, with the biggest potential upset being a Walsall home win against Alun Armstrong’s Darlington side!!
Darlington (one of 8 ex-Football League sides in the 6th tier) are currently mid-table, but only a point away from the play-off zone. Their current form looks like this:-
Sep 28 Alfreton Town (A) Won 1-2
Oct 5 Leamington (A) Won 0-2 F.A.Cup 3rd qualifying round
Oct 12 Boston United (H) Won 2-1
Oct 19 Tamworth (A) Won 0-3 F.A.Cup 4th qualifying round
Oct 30 Kidderminster Harriers (H) Won 1-0
Nov 2 Hereford United (H) Drew 0-0
The only playing “connection” takes the form of Mark Prudhoe, who older members will recall as our goalkeeper in the 1970’s - he was on Darlington’s books a few years later, and was voted as a member of their all-time star team by a Quakers’ supporters group.
So, what can we expect from Darrell Clarke’s squad? As always, the answer has to be “Who knows?”. There have been consistent reports that we have played well, didn’t deserve to lose etc. etc., but the plain fact is that we DO continue to lose, and a contributory factor seems to be the chopping and changing (not to mention playing men out of position). Basic defensive errors continue to be made because to the outside observer it would appear that players don’t have a real idea as to who should be doing what, and where…
Injuries have played their part, of course, but by the same token we do seem to have some players who attract injuries like a magnet attracts metal. A further unknown factor for this game is the question of whether any (or all) of our loan players will even be released by their parent clubs to play in this competition. All will be revealed on Saturday.
Prediction? With quite a few thousand quid resting on progression to the 2nd round (and beyond?) let’s go for a narrow home win - we obviously don’t have the ammunition to make it a decisive win, but a scoreline of 2-1 will suffice, with goals from Sinclair and Clarke.