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Match preview: FC United host Doncaster Rovers in The Emirates FA Cup first round proper

Match preview: FC United host Doncaster Rovers in The Emirates FA Cup first round properFor the third time since our formation in 2005, FC United is in the first round proper of The Emirates FA Cup as we welcome League One Doncaster Rovers to Broadhurst Park on Saturday evening.

The game will be the first at Broadhurst Park to be played in an empty stadium because of the pandemic but the licence fee paying general public will have chance to see the game as it will be screened on BBC Two from 5:15pm on Saturday.

You can download the official matchday programme by clicking here. All that we ask is that you please donate the usual £2 price of the programme or whatever you can afford. Donate here.

The Reds sealed their place at this stage of the competition after coming through four qualifying rounds and taking the scalps of two sides from the league above to get here. The journey started with a 6-2 victory over Pontefract Collieries in late September, which set up a local derby against familiar foes Curzon Ashton in the next round. Neil Reynolds’ side turned in a great performance to go through 2-1.

Unfortunately, the pandemic saw Alfreton Town unable to fulfill the third qualifying round fixture, so FC United received a bye and a home draw against the National League North’s Guiseley two weeks ago.

An 89th minute strike from Finlay Sinclair-Smith gave FC a place in the first round draw for just the third time in our history. Boss Neil Reynolds was invited to the bright lights of Chorley’s Victory Park to be part of the BBC’s coverage of the draw on the Monday evening.

With some mouth-watering ties including five teams that played Premier League football during our inaugural season, we were handed a difficult home tie against League One Doncaster Rovers. The match will be played almost 10 years to the day since our famous Bonfire Night heroics in Rochdale.

FC United have scored 10 goals in our three FA Cup ties this season, with Charlie Ennis having scored four times – and in every game – so far. The Reds have yet to register a clean sheet in the cup conceding four goals in those three games and it’s now eight games since we kept our last clean sheet, in a 0-0 draw at home to Scarborough. FC United do however come into the game on the back of a fantastic performance with the 3-1 home victory over the well fancied Warrington Town on Tuesday evening.

Doncaster Rovers
Doncaster have made a strong start to the season and currently sit in ninth place in the League One table after 10 games. Their recent form has left a little to be desired though, with one win in their last four games (1-0 at home to Lincoln City), two defeats (both 2-1 at home to Plymouth and away to Crewe) and most recently they became a pub quiz answer as they shared a 2-2 draw with AFC Wimbledon in the first game at the Dons’ new Plough Lane ground.

Doncaster manager Darren Moore needs no introduction. Moore made over 600 career appearances including spells at Portsmouth and West Brom. He also cut his managerial teeth at the latter, taking control in April 2018. Despite several good results with the Premier League strugglers, including a 1-0 win at Old Trafford, the Baggies ended their eight year stint in the top division.

Moore got the job permanently the following season but only lasted until March of that season. In July of 2019 he took over the reins at the Keepmoat Stadium, where he led the team to a ninth place finish on points per game.

Donny started the season brightly, with just one defeat in their first six league games. With 18 goals in their 10 league games, they are the third highest scorers in the league with Portsmouth (19) and leaders Peterborough (21) being the only teams to outscore them so far.

Midfielders Benjamin Whiteman and Madger Gomes are the top scorers in the league with three goals each so far. Former Manchester United youngster Reece James (a player once purchased by Wigan for £1.3million) is a noticeable name in the squad and has played in every league game so far this season.

Empty stadium
The fact that we can’t attend the game is something we have to touch on, having been at home games all season, even in the same competition it will be interesting to see how the game plays out in an empty stadium rather than one which would have certainly been played in front of a sold out crowd in different circumstances.

Rarely wrong with much, the bookmakers see FC United as rank outsiders for the game at around 10/1 to pull off the victory. The South Yorkshire visitors are much more fancied at 2/11. For those nostalgic folk amongst you looking for the same 3-2 result as the Rochdale game you’ll get a very favourable 80/1.

After Tuesday’s victory over Warrington, manager Neil Reynolds gave the crowd some words of encouragement ahead of the big game. He asked for the FC faithful to make noise and get behind the team the same as we would any other weekend from wherever we will be watching in the world.

Normally we’d encourage you to get yourself to that football ground on Saturday, but given the current climate and situation we find ourselves in that’s not possible. At least we’ll be able to watch at home, thanks to BBC Sport.

We’re sure that Reno and the boys will do us all proud on Saturday, the same as they tend to do week in, week out. Just a reminder the game is on BBC Two on Saturday evening with coverage from 5.15pm… Bring on United!!!

First Posted ~ 18:20 Sat 7 Nov 2020
News ID ~ 8846
Last Updated ~ 17:00 Fri 19 Feb 2021