Bigger fish in grasp of minnows

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The Independent Online
With the honourable exceptions of Woking and Sudbury Town, the first round of this season's FA Cup was remarkable only for its failure to produce the usual bulging catalogue of giant-killing upsets. Bearing in mind the Cup's habit of throwing both reputation and formbook out of the window, the odds must surely be against this weekend's second round producing another set of largely predictable results.

This alone should give the nine Second and Third Division clubs facing non-League opposition reason to go into their games with trepidation. However, all those playing today will also be thinking of the glamour - not to mention the potential riches - that could lie around the corner if they win a place in the third round alongside the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool, last season's finalists.

This weekend's winners will also have the chance to savour their victories and relish the prospect of what may be in store for them in the new year. In some previous seasons the draw for the third round has been held on the Saturday evening of the second round, giving the victors barely time to open their celebratory champagne, but this year's draw will be held shortly after 10pm on Monday evening, with the BBC broadcasting it live.

Predicting upsets in the Cup is always a risky business, but Woking, who travel today to Cambridge United, must be as good a bet as any to upstage their superiors.

What was most remarkable about Woking's first-round victory over Millwall was the way in which they won. Having more than matched the Second Division promotion challengers in the first game, the GM Vauxhall Conference side might have been expected to exit quietly in the replay at the New Den. Not a bit of it: the 39-year-old Clive Walker gave Woking an early lead and they rarely looked like losing it.

Cambridge are going well in the Third Division, lying in second place six points behind the runaway leaders Fulham, but Woking care little for reputations. Since 1990 they have played 13 FA Cup matches against League opposition and have lost only four times.

Sudbury, who beat Brighton in a replay, were the first round's other giant-killers, but they face a much tougher prospect today when they entertain Brentford at Colchester United's Layer Road ground.

Stevenage Borough, the Conference champions, are more likely to provide an upset when they travel to Leyton Orient. Although Orient have been reinforced in their last two games by the arrival of Peter Shilton, the east London club lie only four places off the bottom of the Third Division table and have managed only 16 goals in 21 league matches this season.

Enfield, who entertain Peterborough, will also fancy their chances of causing a shock, while in historical terms there would be no greater upset than a win for Hednesford Town at Blackpool, winners of one of the most famous Cup finals of all in 1953. The Conference side will have the backing of around 2,000 of their fans at Bloomfield Road.