Football: The other Newcastle dream of credibility and cash

Phil Shaw assesses who the giant-killers may be as the League clubs begin their FA Cup campaign
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The Independent Online
At first Colin Murphy thought it was a wind-up. Enquiring who his team had drawn in the first round of the FA Cup, the Notts County manager had been assured: "Newcastle, away."

Even for a side struggling in the Second Division, facing Newcastle Town, of the North West Counties League, ought to be as big a mismatch as if County were visiting the Premiership leaders themselves. Sadly, police requirements and financial imperatives mean the days of small non-League venues staging such ties are becoming scarcer. To Murphy's relief, no doubt, the game goes ahead at Stoke's Victoria Ground tomorrow.

The Staffordshire club need a 6,000 gate, 60 times their average, just to break even. "The biggest thing for us is not to be eight down after 27 minutes," said their manager, Glyn Chamberlain, a Tesco delivery driver. He spoke for all Cup dreamers when he outlined Newcastle's priorities: "To come out of it with a lot of credibility and a few quid."

The memory of Marine's 11-2 mauling by Shrewsbury last November will play on the minds of many minnows. Yet recent history shows that the eight Football League clubs facing Vauxhall Conference opposition are also at risk. The Conference boasts 21 wins in such meetings over the past five seasons.

Macclesfield are probably favourites to beat Rochdale, despite having to give a debut to Andy Oakes, 19, in goal. Walsall will be under similar pressure at Northwich, now managed by the former Telford giant-killer Mark Hancock. His principal marksman, Delwyn Humphries, scored against Preston in 1994 to take Kidderminster into the fifth round.

Preston themselves face Altrincham, who need one win to equal Yeovil's record of 17 League scalps. Barnet, knocked out two years running by Woking, will do well to survive at Farnborough, and Cambridge's new manager, Roy McFarland, should be warned that Welling's attack contains the obligatory Cambridge reject, Ollie Mora.

Mark O'Kane, manager of Shepshed Dynamo, of the Dr Martens League (Midland Division), has dreamt he scores the winner at Carlisle: shame he no longer plays. Sudbury, from the Southern Division, look more capable of an upset, if beating Brighton can be so described, with Hull also on a hiding to nothing against Whitby at Scarborough tomorrow.

Consett, away to Mansfield, have conceded only one goal in eight matches in this year's Cup; Morecambe, who travel to Boston, have amassed 23. Meanwhile, the collision of Torquay (8-4 losers at Walsall in last season's competition) and Luton (thrashed 7-1 by Grimsby) is surely a banker no- score draw.