Football FA Cup: Match-by-match guide to this weekend's third round

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Aston Villa v Darlington

P5 W5 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P1 W0

Winners (7 times) FA Cup best 5th rnd (1958)

YOU ONLY live once, or so they say. But that does not apply to Darlington from the Third Division, who took a leaf out of Ian Fleming's book and now live a second time as the recipients of the first FA Cup wild card following the withdrawal of the holders, Manchester United, who have other commitments in South America in the new year. The second- round losers became the envy of dozens of clubs up and down the country and landed a dream tie against John Gregory's less than impressive Villa. This match could go some way to determining Gregory's future. The two sides have never met before, but the whole country will be watching to see how this one unfolds. Darlington are enjoying a successful League season, are favourites for promotion and their colourful chairman, George Reynolds, is convinced that God is on their side.

Bolton v Cardiff

P5 W2 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P2 W2

Winners (4 times) FA Cup best Winners (1927)

SOMEWHERE IN Cardiff there is probably an elderly gentleman who can remember when his team last beat Bolton in the FA Cup - three rounds before they became the only non-English side to lift the trophy, at Wembley in 1927. In their only other Cup match-up in 1973, Bolton eventually won through to the fifth round after a second replay. Bolton are sweating on the fitness of Mike Whitlow, who missed the midweek trip to Blackburn suffering from delayed concussion. The Bolton manager, Sam Allardyce, is already without Gudni Bergsson (groin), John O'Kane (ankle), Paul Warhurst (hamstring) and Jimmy Phillips (hamstring). Cardiff will be without the defenders Tony Vaughan and Russell Perrett, who are suspended, and Scott Young, who is out with a knee injury. Mike Ford returns after a hamstring injury.

Charlton v Swindon

P5 W2 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P5 W2

Winners (1947) FA Cup best Semi-finals (1910, 1912)

WHEN THESE two sides met in a First Division dress rehearsal for today's match on 23 November, it was Charlton who came out on top. Goals from John Robinson and Shaun Newton steered them to a 2-1 win, Swindon responding with a volley from 18-year-old Michael Carrick, on loan from West Ham. Swindon are still struggling in the League and Charlton are challenging at the top but form counts for little in Cup games.

A decent run in the cup is not to be sniffed at and the financial benefits have never been more important, but Charlton will not want to be deflected from their priority of a return to the Premiership. That would almost certainly guarantee that their ambitious coach, Alan Curbishley, would stay at The Valley, despite being high on Jack Walker's Christmas list to take over at beleaguered Blackburn Rovers.

Crewe v Bradford

P4 W1 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P4 W2

Semi-finals (1888) FA Cup best Winners (1911)

MUCH HAS happened to these two teams since they last met in January. Bradford won that First Division fixture 4-1, Lee Mills scoring a hat- trick and his fellow striker Robbie Blake scoring the other goal. Bradford went on to gain promotion to the Premiership while Crewe avoided relegation despite being 11 points adrift at one stage. Bradford are gradually acclimatising to life with the high flyers and their manager, Paul Jewell, continues to impress. The Crewe coach, Dario Gradi, has been working miracles for years and has nothing to prove. Bradford's captain, Stuart McCall, scored twice for Everton in the 1989 final but still finished on the losing side against Liverpool. He had better luck north of the border, winning three Scottish Cup winners' medals with Rangers.

Derby v Burnley

P5 W3 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P2 W1

Winners (1946) FA Cup best Winners (1914)

DERBY'S LOAN signing Georgi Kinkladze will be trying to emulate his FA Cup debut for Manchester City in 1996. The Georgian international scored in a 5-0 third-round hammering of Leicester City and then helped City to see off Coventry before they finally went down to Manchester United. Since leaving Maine Road he has had an unhappy time with Ajax but now has the opportunity to show that he still possesses the twinkling skills that made him such a favourite first time round. The first year that Burnley played Derby in the Cup, they went on to win the trophy for the only time in their history. Having beaten Derby 3-2 in the second round, they dispatched Bolton, Sunderland and Sheffield United before defeating Liverpool 1-0 in the final at Crystal Palace in 1914.

Exeter v Everton

P0 W0 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P5 W4

6th rnd (1931, 1981) FA Cup best Winners (5 times)

THESE CLUBS have met only once before and that was in the Cup. Back in January, 1986 Everton were made to work hard for a 1-0 third-round victory at Goodison Park, the defender Gary Stevens scoring the winning goal. That was the start of a Cup run that took Everton all the way to Wembley only for them to lose 3-1 to their arch-rivals, Liverpool. The Everton striker Kevin Campbell will be acting on personal experience to prevent the Merseysiders from becoming a laughing stock. Campbell knows that feeling all too well as he was in the Arsenal team that was dumped out of the Cup by the then Fourth Division side Wrexham in 1992, and it is an feeling he does not want to endure again. As Campbell says: "That defeat at Wrexham was a shock, a terrible experience."

Fulham v Luton

P3 W1 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P3 W1

Runners-up (1975) FA Cup best Runners-up (1959)

AFTER FULHAM'S stunning 3-1 Worthington Cup victory over the Premiership heavyweights Tottenham, this should be a formality. But Paul Bracewell's side go into the game after a less memorable goalless draw at home to Birmingham. Luton, managed by that more-than-capable survivor Lennie Lawrence, are performing reasonably well in the Second Division despite one financial crisis after another and his team will be fired up for the visit to Craven Cottage. These two met for the first time in the FA Cup in January 1908, when Fulham won 8-3 and went on to the semi-finals. In their last Cup encounter, in the 1963-64 season, Fulham won 4-1. The Fayed (and Harrods) fortunes are still contributing to Fulham's cause with the imminent arrival of Kevin Ball from Sunderland.

Grimsby v Stockport

P5 W2 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P4 W3

Semi-finals (1936, 1939) FA Cup best 5th rnd (1935, 1950)

THIS WILL be the third time these two teams have met in the Cup. On the last occasion, 35 years ago, Stockport won 1-0. This tie could give David Smith the chance to repeat his goalscoring performance of the opening day of the season when he hit the goal that sank Alan Buckley's Mariners 1-0. Grimsby are without midfielder Wayne Burnett (groin) but welcome back their captain, Paul Groves, from a three-match ban. He is likely to partner Tony Gallimore at the heart of the defence with Mark Lever suspended for one game. Stockport are missing the midfielder Chris Byrne, who is recovering from a hernia operation. Sean Connelly faces a race against time to recover from a dislocated knee. Bookmakers make the home side favourites - but only just.

Hereford v Leicester

P2 W0 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P5 W4

4th rnd (6 times) FA Cup best Runners-up (4 times)

HEREFORD'S giant-killing pedigree is best known for the dramatic 2-1 win over Newcastle United in 1972 when they were still a non-league club. But almost as impressive was the victory that followed two seasons later when the Third Division side got past West Ham. The Leicester defender Frank Sinclair has experienced both extremes of FA Cup Final emotion. In 1994 he conceded a penalty for a foul on Manchester United's Andrei Kanchelskis during Chelsea's 4-0 defeat at Wembley. But three years later, he made amends as Chelsea beat Middlesbrough to lift the trophy. Hereford will have three part-timers in their starting line-up while the Leicester manager, Martin O'Neill, awaits news on the fitness of Steve Guppy who continues to be troubled with a back injury.

Hull v Chelsea

P1 W0 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P5 W4

Semi-finals (1930) FA Cup best Winners (1970, 1997)

HULL WILL need to improve on their second round performance - they squeezed past non-league minnows Hayes after their replay went to extra-time. Gianluca Vialli, meanwhile, will hope to fit a Cup run into their busy Champions' League and Premiership schedule to reclaim the trophy they lifted in 1997, although this quick return to the north-east after last week's hammering at The Stadium of Light is not what he would have planned. Hull are likely to be without midfielder Gary Brabin, who is struggling with a neck injury, while goalkeeper Lee Bracey returns in place of Steve Bywater. Jody Morris and Chris Sutton could both start for Chelsea especially as Albert Ferrer and Dan Petrescu both had injury worries before the Champions' League match with Lazio.

Norwich v Coventry

P5 W2 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P5 W5

Semi-finals (3 times) FA Cup best Winners (1987)

NORWICH HAVE won their last three Cup encounters with Coventry and the 1995 victory, with goals from Mike Sheron and Darren Eadie in the 3-1 fourth round replay was a poignant memory yesterday with Eadie transferring to Leicester City for pounds 3million. Norwich welcome defender Darren Kenton back from injury for today's tie and their coach, Bruce Rioch, may well decide to stick with the 4-4-2 formation he used against West Brom and that could mean another start for the transfer-listed Norwegian full-back Erik Fuglestad. Coventry are without David Burrows (knee), Marc Edworthy (knee), Mo Konjic (fractured cheekbone), Marcus Hall (knee) and Richard Shaw (knee) but Gordon Strachan is hoping Gary Breen and Barry Ferguson will win their fitness battles.

Preston v Oldham

P2 W0 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P5 W2

Winners (1889, 1938) FA Cup best Semi-finals (3 times)

THE PROSPECT of playing Oldham again must be like Christmas come early for the Preston striker Johnathan Macken. He scored the goals that beat Andy Ritchie's side on the first day of the season and claimed two more against them last weekend. His Deepdale double left the Latics reeling and the Preston manager, David Moyes, must be quietly confident. He has skipper Sean Gregan back from suspension for this match but the former Manchester United starlet Michael Appleton is serving a ban. Lee Cartwright is sidelined after an operation on torn ligaments. The Oldham manager, Ritchie, hopes to have winger Neil Adams and his in-form striker Craig Dudley back. Was it really just five years ago that Oldham lost a Cup semi-final to Manchester United?

QPR v Torquay

P5 W3 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P1 W0

Runners-up (1982) FA Cup best 4th rnd (5 times)

THE FORMER office removals man Stuart Wardley will get his first taste of third-round action against Torquay. The midfielder, who joined from Saffron Walden Town for pounds 15,000 towards the end of last season, has already scored six goals this campaign. Torquay's hopes of keeping Rangers out at Loftus Road will depend on the 41-year-old goalkeeper Neville Southall, who won the Cup with Everton in 1984 and 1995. QPR have six first-teamers sidelined by injury. They are defenders Danny Maddix and Karl Ready, mi dfielders George Kulcsar, Steve Morrow and Gavin Peacock, and striker Kevin Gallen. Torquay have major injury worries. Eifion Williams, Mick O'Brien, Mark Platts, Brian Healy, Robbie Herrera and Lee Russell are all in doubt.

Reading v Plymouth

P4 W3 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P4 W0

Semi-finals (1927) FA Cup best Semi-finals (1984)

THE FIRST time these sides met was in the first round of the FA Cup in 1920 when Plymouth went through after a 2-0 win. Reading gained revenge in a first round meeting in 1968. Plymouth are on the heels of the Third Division leaders while Reading, despite the departure of the manager Tommy Burns, have not exactly stopped the rot and are still nearer the bottom of the Second Division than they would like. The pressure is beginning to tell on their new manager, Alan Pardew, and an upset would not help his long-term prospects. Reading strikers Keith Scott and Nicky Forster, both out for the last three weeks, look certain to miss out through injury and midfielder Graeme Murty is also doubtful. Plymouth are without the midfielder Chris Leadbitter, who is serving a one-match ban.

Sheff Wed v Bristol City

P5 W4 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P3 W1

Winners (3 times) FA Cup best Runners-up (1909)

DES WALKER, Sheffield Wednesday's former England international defender, scored the winning goal in the 1991 FA Cup Final - for the opposing team. Walker, then with Nottingham Forest, put through his own goal in extra time to hand Tottenham a 2-1 victory. Long-serving Bristol City defender, Brian Tinnion, 31, scored his side's most famous FA Cup goal of recent years, getting the winner at Anfield in a third round replay against Liverpool in 1994.Wednesday left-back Andy Hinchcliffe is doubtful and Lee Briscoe is struggling with a bruised leg. The only relief for Danny Wilson is the return of Danny Sonner from suspension. Bristol City have defenders Andrew Jordan and Louis Carey and midfielder Tommy Doherty sidelined by injuries and Paul Mortimer is doubtful.

Sunderland v Portsmouth

P5 W3 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P5 W3

Winners (1937, 1973) FA Cup best Winners (1939)

THESE TEAMS almost created an extraordinary FA Cup Final in 1992 when Portsmouth were a penalty shoot-out away from ensuring a Wembley finale with no representative from English football's top flight. But Liverpool kept their nerve and went on to defeat Sunderland 2-0. The Wearsiders have been ravaged by suspensions in recent weeks, with Steve Bould, Paul Butler, Stefan Schwarz, Chris Makin, Gavin McCann and Alex Rae all forced to sit out games. But all six have now served their bans. Bob McNab is Portsmouth's caretaker manager following the departure of Alan Ball but the assistant coach, Kevin Bond, is expected to pick the side. Veteran striker Steve Claridge could win a recall and the Wearside-born midfielder Lee Makel, on-loan from Hearts, will relish facing Peter Reid's men.

Tranmere v West Ham

P5 W2 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P5 W3

5th rnd (1968) FA Cup best Winners (3 times)

PROLIFIC goalscorer David Kelly is set to line up against one of his former clubs. The Republic of Ireland international Kelly, who turned 34 last month, moved to Upton Park from Walsall for pounds 600,000 in 1988 and spent two seasons with the club. West Ham have been more prone than most to FA Cup giant-killing acts in the Nineties. Among those to dispose of them this decade are Torquay, Wrexham, Luton and Swansea. Tranmere are without defenders Graham Allen and Clint Hill who are both ruled out through suspension. That means the return of George Santos as cover for the pair despite being plagued with a groin problem. West Ham have been hit by another defensive injury blow as Javier Margas is ruled out after pulling a hamstring in Monday's 0-0 draw at Tottenham.

Walsall v Gillingham

P3 W2 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P3 W0

5th rnd (4 times) FA Cup best 5th rnd (1970)

WALSALL HAVE never appeared in a major Wembley cup final; neither have Gillingham, although they suffered a cruel Second Division play- off final defeat at the hands of Manchester City last season. The current Gillingham manager, Peter Taylor, won an England call-up as a Third Division player helping Crystal Palace to the semi-finals of the Cup in 1976. Walsall boss Ray Graydon will be without the Hungarian midfielder Gabor Bukran, who is serving a one-match ban. Gillingham, with their top-scorer Robert Taylor sold to Manchester City and Rodney Rowe cup-tied, are short of firepower. Manager Taylor is without John Hodge and Andy Thomson and names an otherwise unchanged squad from the one that beat Bury in the League last week.

Watford v Birmingham

P5 W3 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P5 W2

Runners-up (1984) FA Cup best Runners-up (1931, 1956)

BIRMINGHAM WILL be looking to avenge their defeat by Watford in last season's First Division play-off semi-finals. The Blues will be without their influential defender, David Holdsworth, who is suspended. He may be replaced in the centre of defence by Gary Rowett. Either Jonathan Bass or Jeremy Gill would then step in at right-back. Marcelo is struggling for fitness so Darren Purse is likely to continue in his makeshift role as striker. Dele Adebola, Peter Ndlovu and Paul Furlong are all sidelined and Allan Johnston is set to return to Sunderland after a loan spell. Peter Kennedy, Alex Bonnot and Tommy Mooney are still missing for Watford, but Nick Wright is fit again and may be on the bench. Clint Easton has recovered after a hamstring injury but Xavier Gravelaine is suspended. Ben Iroha is also on the point of returning from injury.

West Bromwich v Blackburn

P5 W1 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P5 W3

Winners (5 times) FA Cup best Winners (6 times)

THESE TWO clubs have won the Cup 11 times between them but have fallen on harder times and are both in mid-table in the First Division. They last met in the Cup in 1982, when Albion's 3-2 victory prompted a run to the semi-finals. In total Albion and Rovers have played each other 118 times, Blackburn having won five more times than their opponents. Their most recent meeting (and their first in the League for nine years) ended in a 2-2 draw in September. With Damien Duff (hamstring) and Jason Wilcox (groin) doubtful, Rovers may give the left-wing berth today to Matt Jansen, who has yet to play under Tony Parkes, the caretaker manager. Rovers have gone seven games unbeaten since Parkes took over. Albion may make changes in midfield by recalling Enzo Maresca, who was dropped for the midweek game at Crewe.

Wigan v Wolves

P2 W0 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P5 W4

6th rnd (1987) FA Cup best Winners (4 times)

THIS MATCH will bring back poignant memories for Dave Whelan, the Wigan chairman, who broke his leg playing for Blackburn against Wolves in the 1960 FA Cup final. Today Whelan's Wigan team are riding high in the Second Division and hoping for promotion into the First Division for the first time in their history. Wigan, who have no new injury worries, have Scott Greene available again after suspension and will be confident they can spring a surprise, though Wolves have been in good form in recent weeks. Wolves are without Michael Branch (cup-tied) and Simon Osborn (suspended). Carl Robinson and Scott Taylor compete for the vacant midfield position while Havard Flo or Steve Corica will partner Ade Akinbiyi in attack. The two teams have met once before in the Cup, Wolves winning 3-1 at Springfield Park in the second round in 1987.

Wimbledon v Barnsley

P5 W5 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P5 W3

Winners (1988) FA Cup best Winners (1912)

EGIL OLSEN, the Wimbledon manager, won the Norwegian Cup two years ago but this will be his FA Cup debut. Olsen faces a defensive injury crisis, with Ben Thatcher and Dean Blackwell almost certainly ruled out and Alan Kimble and Kenny Cunningham also struggling to overcome niggling injuries. Barnsley have Martin Bullock and Robbie Van Der Laan unwell with influenza, but Chris Morgan and Chris Barker are back to full fitness. Steve Chettle, on loan from Nottingham Forest, is ineligible. Geoff Thomas, the Barnsley midfielder, returns to a ground where he has many happy memories. Thomas was a mainstay of Crystal Palace's midfield for many years and in 1990 led Steve Coppell's team to the FA Cup final against Manchester United.

Wrexham v Middlesbro

P5 W3 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P5 W3

6th rnd (3 times) FA Cup best Runners-up (1997)

ON THE only previous occasion these two clubs met in the FA Cup, Wrexham ran out 1-0 winners in a fourth-round tie in 1974. Today Wrexham have an unchanged squad, the only absentee being the long-term injury- victim Wayne Phillips. Middlesbrough are without Paul Ince (hernia operation) and Curtis Fleming (ribs). Colin Cooper (knee) and Gary Pallister (back) are major doubts, as is Brian Deane (knee). However, Hamilton Ricard is likely to recover from a toe injury and Phil Stamp has recovered from an ankle problem. Keith O'Neill (foot) has only a 50-50 chance of playing. Bryan Robson, the Middlesbrough manager, will be hoping his team do not go the way of Arsenal, Newcastle and Sunderland, who have all lost at the Racecourse Ground in the Cup in the past.


Chester v Man City

P2 W1 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P5 W4

5th rnd (1980) FA Cup best Winners (4 times)

LEAGUE STATUS suggests only one outcome, but while Chester City's position at the bottom of the Third Division is a fair reflection of their form, Manchester City are experiencing a minor crisis, despite their place among the First Division's front-runners. Having threatened at one stage to run away with the title, Joe Royle's team have lost three matches in succession. Robert Taylor, a pounds 1.5m signing from Gillingham, is cup- tied today. Shaun Goater and Gareth Taylor are likely to form the attack, though Lee Crooks, Danny Tiatto and Terry Cooke will all come into the reckoning. Goran Milovaijevic should return for Chester after a hamstring injury.

Huddersfield v Liverpool

P4 W3 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P5 W4

Winners (1922) FA Cup best Winners (5 times)

HUDDERSFIELD HAVE already beaten Chelsea in the Worthington Cup this season - they eventually went out to Wimbledon in extra time - and they will be confident they can stage another surprise. Steve Bruce's team are riding high in the First Division, while Liverpool's form remains erratic. Huddersfield have won all three previous FA Cup encounters between the two clubs. Scott Sellars will be in Huddersfield's starting line-up because Chris Beech (calf) and George Donis (ankle) are out. Robbie Fowler is still struggling to recover from an ankle injury and may be left on the Liverpool bench. Michael Owen will lead the attack. Patrik Berger (knee) misses out again and Vegard Heggem (muscle strain) is doubtful. Vladimir Smicer is likely to be on the bench.

Leeds v Port Vale

P5 W5 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P4 W1

Winners (1972) FA Cup best Semi-finals (1954)

LEEDS LOST their first-ever Football League game when they played away to Port Vale in 1920, but a repeat of that 2-0 scoreline would be a major surprise. While Leeds go from strength to strength, Vale are facing another season struggling against relegation from the First Division, although they have shown improved form in recent weeks. Leeds, who have no fresh injury worries following their midweek exertions, go into the game having lost only twice in their last 19 matches. David O'Leary's team are entering a critical phase of their season: they meet Leicester in the Worthington Cup next week, while the busy holiday programme will be crucial in their League campaign. Vale will be without Dave Brammer and Matthew Carragher, who are both suspended.

Sheff Utd v Rushden

P5 W3 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P1 W0

Winners (4 times) FA Cup best 3rd rnd (1999)

THE PROFESSIONALS of Rushden & Diamonds will fancy their chances of creating an upset against opponents who are in the First Division relegation zone. Rushden lie second in the Nationwide Conference table and will be aiming to reach the fourth round of the Cup for the first time. Rushden will be without Darren Bradshaw (Achilles) and Mark Peters (ankle). John Hamsher and Kenny Cramman are drafted in to provide cover. Neil Warnock, a lifelong Sheffield United fan, took over as manager of the Bramall Lane club last week and started with a victory. He has some selection problems in defence today: Lee Sandford and Davy Gijsbrechts are both suspended, while Shaun Murphy has had a stomach bug. Curtis Woodhouse and Shaun Murphy face late fitness tests.

Tottenham v Newcastle

P5 W4 Five-year record in 3rd rnd P5 W4

Winners (8 times) FA Cup best Winners (6 times)

TOTTENHAM WILL be looking for a double dose of revenge, Newcastle having knocked them out of last season's FA Cup semi-finals and beaten them in the Premiership a fortnight ago. Tottenham will be without Tim Sherwood and Mauricio Taricco, who are both suspended. Luke Young is set to keep his place at right-back, with Justin Edinburgh returning on the left. Allan Nielsen and Stephen Clemence will be competing for the midfield slot vacated by Sherwood. Newcastle, losing Cup finalists for the last two seasons, have Nolberto Solano suspended, but Kevin Gallacher returns to the squad after recovering from a hamstring injury. Franck Dumas is out after breaking and dislocating his elbow against Roma in Thursday night's Uefa Cup match.