FA Cup third round: Guide to the 20 lower league and non-league teams taking part

FA Cup third round: Guide to the 20 lower league and non-league teams taking part

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Watch the best goals from the FA Cup second round
FA Cup third round
Date: 4-6 January Coverage: Liverpool v Everton live on BBC One on Sunday 5 January (16:01 GMT) – as well as Arsenal v Leeds United on Monday 6 January (19:56 GMT)

Rochdale versus Newcastle United, Gillingham at home to West Ham United and Port Vale at Manchester City – FA Cup third-round weekend is fast approaching.

Of the 64 teams taking part this weekend, 13 are from League One, five from League Two – with two from the fifth tier.

AFC Fylde, 21st and in the National League relegation zone, are the lowest-ranked side left and face a mouth-watering tie at Premier League Sheffield United.

Which teams have made it through to join Premier League and Championship teams this stage? What are their chances? Who have they beaten and when are they playing?

BBC Sport looks at the lower-league runners and riders in the FA Cup third round.

12:31 GMT matches on Saturday

Newport County

League: League Two. Opponents: Away v Millwall (Championship). When: Saturday (12:31 GMT).

Newport and Millwall have one thing in common – both have knocked Leicester City out of the FA Cup since the Foxes were crowned Premier League champions in 2016. Will Padraig Amond continue his phenomenal scoring record in the competition? Since joining Newport in August 2017, the former Grimsby and Morecambe forward has scored nine times in 15 ties – including the winner in the third round against Leicester last season.

In the past two years, Newport have also beaten Leeds United and Middlesbrough, and earned a Wembley replay against Tottenham. “With the runs we’ve had in the FA Cup, the future of the club is quite secure,” said ex-Republic of Ireland Under-21 international Amond.

FA Cup run so far: A v Grimsby Town (1R) 1-1, H v Grimsby Town (1RR) 2-0; A v Maldon & Tiptree (2R) 1-0. Prize money: £90,000. FA Cup stat: Since the start of the 2017-18 season, Newport have earned more than £600,000 in FA Cup prize money.

Peterborough United

League: League One. Opponents: Away v Burnley (Premier League). When: Saturday (12:31 GMT).

Burnley have already lost at home to a League One team this season, and Peterborough will be hoping they can repeat what Sunderland did in the Carabao Cup in August. With forwards Ivan Toney (15) and Mo Eisa (13) scoring 28 league goals between them this season, Darren Ferguson’s side will not lack confidence at Turf Moor.

“You either want a tie against a Premier League side or a winnable tie at home,” said Posh manager Ferguson. “We have the former and we will look forward to it.”

FA Cup run so far: A v Stevenage (1R) 1-1, H v Stevenage (1RR) 2-0; H v Dover Athletic (2R) 3-0. Prize money: £90,000. FA Cup stat: Peterborough have scored 24 goals in their past 10 FA Cup games.


League: League One. Opponents: Home v Newcastle United (Premier League). When: Saturday (12:31 GMT).

Spotland is the perfect setting for a giant-killing and Brian Barry-Murphy’s Rochdale side will relish the opportunity of putting their name up in lights against Newcastle.

In September, Dale held Manchester United to a 1-1 draw before losing on penalties in the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford – 16-year-old Luke Matheson scoring for the League One side.

Matheson, who has since turned 17, has gone on to nail down a place in Barry-Murphy’s side. “We have a lot of young players who have played at Old Trafford, and big cup ties in the last couple of years,” said Barry-Murphy.

FA Cup run so far: A v Wrexham (1R) 0-0, H v Wrexham (1RR) 1-0; H v Boston United (2R) 0-0, A v Boston United (2RR) 2-1. Prize money: £90,000. FA Cup stat: In 2017-18, Dale held Tottenham to a 2-2 draw in the fifth round before losing the replay 6-1 at Wembley.

Rotherham United

League: League One. Opponents: Home v Hull City (Championship). When: Saturday (12:31 GMT).

At this stage last season, Rotherham were hammered 7-0 at eventual winners Manchester City. Paul Warne’s side have since been relegated from the Championship but will surely feel they have a chance of a first home win in the competition since November 2013, despite facing opposition from a higher league.

Rotherham staged one of the great comebacks in the last round. Trailing 3-0 at National League Solihull Moors, the League One side scored four times in the last 14 minutes to win 4-3. Expect goals. The past four meetings between Rotherham and Hull have produced 17 goals.

FA Cup run so far: A v Maidenhead United (1R) 3-1; A v Solihull Moors (2R) 4-3. Prize money: £90,000. FA Cup stat: Rotherham are at home in the competition for the first time since January 2017.

Shrewsbury Town

League: League One. Opponents: Away v Bristol City (Championship). When: Saturday (12:31 GMT).

Shrewsbury will not be overawed facing opposition from a league above away from home. In the past two seasons, the League One side have taken Premier League West Ham and Wolves to replays, and won at Championship Stoke City.

Sam Ricketts’ team are enjoying another decent run, with ex-QPR youth midfielder Josh Laurent scoring in each round. “Ashton Gate is a tough place to go but, as last season’s tie against Stoke proved, we are capable of getting another historic result,” said former Wales defender Ricketts.

FA Cup run so far: H v Bradford City (1R) 1-1, A v Bradford City (1RR) 1-0; H v Mansfield Town (2R) 2-0. Prize money: £90,000. FA Cup stat: Shrewsbury reached the quarter-finals in 1979 and 1982.

15:01 GMT matches on Saturday


League: League One. Opponents: Away v Reading (Championship). When: Saturday (15:01 GMT).

A wave of optimism has been sweeping through Bloomfield Road since ex-owner Owen Oyston’s 31-year reign ended in the High Court.

The 1953 winners lost 3-0 at home to Arsenal at this stage last season, but Seasiders boss Simon Grayson is confident his League One side can serve up a surprise at Reading, where former Blackpool midfielder Charlie Adam plays.

“It’s the perfect tie for me,” said 34-year-old Adam, who played in the Premier League for Blackpool in 2010-11.

FA Cup run so far: H v Morecambe (1R) 4-1; H v Maidstone United (2R) 3-1. Prize money: £90,000. FA Cup stat: In 2016-2017, Blackpool won at Championship Barnsley in a third-round replay.

Carlisle United

League: League Two. Opponents: Away v Cardiff City (Championship). When: Saturday (15:01 GMT).

The FA Cup is providing Carlisle with some welcome relief from their troubles near the foot of League Two. In November, the Cumbrians sacked manager Steven Pressley after 10 months in charge and appointed Chris Beech as head coach. This is the second time in three seasons they have made the third round and, while Football League survival remains the main goal, a positive result against Cardiff could help inspire an upturn in fortunes.

FA Cup run so far: A v Dulwich Hamlet (1R) 4-1; A v Forest Green Rovers (2R) 2-2, H v Forest Green Rovers (2RR) 1-0. Prize money: £90,000. FA Cup stat: Carlisle reached the third round in 2017-2018 – holding Sheffield Wednesday to a goalless draw at home before losing the replay 2-0.

Hartlepool United

League: National League. Opponents: Away v Oxford United (League One). When: Saturday (15:01 GMT).

Hartlepool are one of only two non-league clubs still standing – the other being National League rivals AFC Fylde. Dave Challinor started the season in charge of AFC Fylde but was sacked in October and has since gone to Hartlepool.

Having entered the competition in the fourth qualifying round, Pools have already earned more than £100,000 in prize money. “The finances are huge for the club,” said Challinor.

FA Cup run so far: H v Brackley Town (4Q) 1-0; A v Yeovil Town (1R) 4-1; A v Exeter City (2R) 2-2, H v Exeter City (2RR) 1-0. Prize money: £108,750. FA Cup stat: Hartlepool are in the third round for the first time since 2015-2016.

Oxford United

League: League One. Opponents: Home v Hartlepool United (National League). When: Saturday (15:01 GMT).

Oxford United are this season’s lower-league cup kings. Having reached the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup before going out to holders Manchester City, Karl Robinson’s side have won six FA Cup and League Cup ties this season and now face a very winnable FA Cup third-round home tie against National League Hartlepool United.

FA Cup run so far: A v Hayes & Yeading United (1R) 2-0; A v Walsall (2R) 1-0. Prize money: £90,000. FA Cup stat: Oxford lost 1-0 away to Championship Brentford at this stage last season.

Tranmere Rovers

League: League One. Opponents: Away v Watford (Premier League). When: Saturday (15:01 GMT).

This is the second successive season that Tranmere have reached the third round and drawn a Premier League team – not bad for a club that was playing non-league 20 months ago. Last season, their reward for beating Oxford City and Southport was a home tie against Tottenham. Micky Mellon’s side lost 7-0 in front of a sell-out Prenton Park crowd before going on to clinch promotion to League One. This time they are at Watford, who have improved under new boss Nigel Pearson. They can’t, can they?

FA Cup run so far: H v Wycombe Wanderers (1R) 2-2, A v Wycombe Wanderers (1RR) 2-1; H v Chichester City (2R) 5-1. Prize money: £90,000. FA Cup stat: Tranmere reached the quarter-finals in 1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04.

17:31 GMT matches on Saturday

Fleetwood Town

League: League One. Opponents: Home v Portsmouth (League One). When: Saturday (17:31 GMT).

When Portsmouth won the FA Cup in 2008, Fleetwood had just finished top of the Northern Premier League Premier Division in the seventh tier of English football. Now the Lancashire club have their sights on a place in the Championship – as well as the fourth round of the FA Cup. Under boss Joey Barton, Fleetwood are motoring along nicely just outside of the play-offs and will be confident of progressing in the all-League One encounter at Highbury.

With 13 goals in 22 league games, former Scunthorpe forward Paddy Madden has been in excellent form for Fleetwood this season. Will he make the difference against Pompey?

FA Cup run so far: A v Barnet (1R) 2-0, A v Crawley Town (2R) 2-1. Prize money: £90,000. FA Cup stat: Fleetwood lost at home to League One rivals AFC Wimbledon at this stage last season.


League: League One. Opponents: Away v Fleetwood Town (League One). When: Saturday (17:31 GMT).

It’s 12 years since Sol Campbell lifted the trophy after Nwankwo Kanu’s goal won Portsmouth the FA Cup against Cardiff City at Wembley. Pompey plummeted down the leagues soon after that – spending four seasons in the basement division between 2013-14 and 2016-17 as a stream of managers came and went. Kenny Jackett, who steered Millwall to the FA Cup semi-finals in 2013, has been in charge since 2017.

Since the start of 2017-18, Portsmouth have beaten Fleetwood four times in the league by an aggregate score of 12-4.

FA Cup run so far: A v Harrogate Town (1R) 2-1; H v Altrincham (2R) 2-1. Prize money: £90,000. FA Cup stat: Portsmouth beat Championship Norwich City at this stage last season.

Port Vale

League: League Two. Opponents: Away v Manchester City (Premier League). When: Saturday (17:31 GMT).

What a difference 12 months make. This time last year, Port Vale were losing 4-1 at home to Oldham and 18th in League Two – their run in the Football League under threat. Under new owners Carol and Kevin Shanahan, Vale Park is a much happier place. John Askey’s side are chasing a play-off place and about 8,000 Vale fans will make the journey to Etihad Stadium to see their team take on holders Manchester City.

Despite playing away, Vale expect to make £300,000 from the tie and Carol Shanahan said: “It’s like our own FA Cup final.”

FA Cup run so far: A v MK Dons (1R) 1-0; A v Cheltenham Town (2R) 3-1. Prize money: £90,000. FA Cup stat: This is Port Vale’s first FA Cup tie against Manchester City since January 1991.

14:01 GMT matches on Sunday

Bristol Rovers

League: League One. Opponents: Home v Coventry City. When: Sunday (14:01 GMT).

Bristol Rovers were the last team to book their place in the third round, Alex Rodman’s goal sealing a 1-0 win at Plymouth Argyle in a second-round replay on 17 December. Rovers’ win was all the more impressive given boss Graham Coughlan quit hours before kick-off to join Mansfield Town, who play in the league below.

Former West Brom and Crystal Palace coach Ben Garner has since taken over. The last time Rovers made the third round was 2014, and on three occasions since they have been knocked out by non-league teams – Chesham (2015-16), Barrow (2016-17) and Barnet (2018-19).

FA Cup run so far: H v Bromley (1R) 1-1, A v Bromley (1RR) 1-0; H v Plymouth Argyle (2R) 1-1, A v Plymouth Argyle (2RR) 1-0. Prize money: £90,000. FA Cup stat: Bristol Rovers lost 3-0 to Birmingham City at the third-round stage in 2013-14.

Burton Albion

League: League One. Opponents: Home v Northampton Town (League Two). When: Sunday (14:01 GMT).

With £135,000 in prize money going to each of the third round winners, this League One v League Two tie could turn out to be a nice little earner. Burton Albion, Carabao Cup semi-finalists last season, will start as favourites to make it to the fourth round, where the prize money increases to £180,000 for winning teams. Nigel Clough’s side love a cup run. Earlier this season the Brewers reached the fourth round of the EFL Cup after beating Premier League Bournemouth in the third round.

“The main thing is that it’s a home draw,” said Clough, who is in his second spell in charge of Burton. “We’ve done enough travelling in the last few weeks, and so have the fans. It’s an opportunity – but that’s all it is – to get to the fourth round.”

FA Cup run so far: A v Salford City (1R) 1-1, H v Salford City (1RR) 4-1; A v Oldham Athletic (2R) 1-0. Prize money: £90,000. FA Cup stat: Burton Albion are looking to reach the fourth round for the first time since 2010-11.

Coventry City

League: League One. Opponents: Away v Bristol Rovers. When: Sunday (14:01 GMT).

Coventry City might be ‘homeless’ but the Sky Blues are absolutely flying in League One – as well as enjoying a decent FA Cup run. The Sky Blues – winners in 1987 – are ground-sharing at Birmingham City’s St Andrew’s for the 2019-20 season after failing to agree a deal to stay at the Ricoh Arena.

Striker Matt Godden has scored back-to-back hat-tricks in games over Christmas, while in Mark Robins they have a boss who knows all about winning the FA Cup. Robins came on as a late substitute for Manchester United in the 1990 final against Crystal Palace, which ended 3-3 after extra time. United won the replay 1-0.

FA Cup run so far: A v Colchester United (1R) 2-0; H v Ipswich Town (2R) 1-1, A v Ipswich Town (2RR) 2-1. Prize money: £90,000. FA Cup stat: Coventry City reached the fifth round in 2017-18 before losing 3-1 at Premier League Brighton.

Crewe Alexandra

League: League Two. Opponents: Home v Barnsley (Championship). When: Sunday (14:01 GMT).

It’s been a while since Crewe fans had much to shout about. The days when the Railwaymen were beating the likes of Burnley, Brighton and Leeds in the second tier of English football (2005-06) are a distant memory. Lumbered in League Two for four seasons, the Cheshire club moved into the automatic promotion places this week and David Artell’s side have an opportunity to cause an upset when Championship strugglers Barnsley visit Gresty Road.

“We’ve got a chance to show how good we are,” said former Gibraltar defender Artell, who has been in charge of Crewe for three years.

FA Cup run so far: A v Accrington Stanley (1R) 2-0; A v Eastleigh (2R) 1-1, H v Eastleigh (2RR) 3-1. Prize money: £90,000. FA Cup stat: Crewe are in the third round for the first time since 2008-2009.

AFC Fylde

League: National League. Opponents: Away v Sheffield United (Premier League). When: Sunday (14:01 GMT).

AFC Fylde are the lowest-ranked club left in the FA Cup. The Lancashire side, formed in 1988, have beaten three non-league clubs to get to this stage and earn a trip to Premier League Sheffield United.

Coasters boss Jim Bentley is full of respect for the work Chris Wilder has done at Bramall Lane.

Bentley, who left League Two Morecambe to take charge of AFC Fylde in October, said: “Chris was one of the first to text me when the draw came out and I’m looking forward to pitting my wits against his. He was managing Halifax in the Conference once and now he’s in the Premier League. I’m really pleased for him.”

FA Cup run so far: H v Peterborough Sports (4Q) 6-1; A v Nantwich Town (1R) 1-0; A v Kingstonian (2R) 2-0. Prize money: £108,750. FA Cup stat: AFC Fylde are in the third round for the first time.

Northampton Town

League: League Two. Opponents: Away v Burton Albion (League One). When: Sunday (14:01 GMT).

The last time Northampton Town appeared at this stage of the FA Cup, Wilder was their manager. Wilder has gone on to bigger and better things with Sheffield United, but the Cobblers are stuck in League Two – albeit in the play-off places. They have beaten two non-league sides to get to this stage and face a big test in the shape of Burton Albion, where former Northampton midfielder John-Joe O’Toole – a title winner and cult hero at Sixfields – is making an impression.

“We’ll give the tie the full attention it deserves and it wouldn’t be any different had we drawn Liverpool, Manchester United or Manchester City away from home,” said Northampton boss Keith Curle.

FA Cup run so far: A v Chippenham Town (1R) 3-0, H v Notts County (2R) 3-1. Prize money: £90,000. FA Cup stat: Northampton are in the third round for the first time since 2015-16.

18:16 GMT match on Sunday


League: League One. Opponents: Home v West Ham United (Premier League). When: Sunday (18:16 GMT).

Gillingham are rubbing their hands at the prospect of West Ham’s visit to Kent. Not only is the tie a sell-out at Priestfield, the Hammers have a poor record at lower-league clubs in the FA Cup. In 2017-18, they went out at League One Wigan, while they were humiliated by AFC Wimbledon last season.

Will Gills boss Steve Evans mastermind an upset – and ensure the Hammers go out to League One opposition for the third successive season? “I wanted West Ham,” said Evans. “It’s a fantastic tie embraced by everyone in Gillingham.”

FA Cup run so far: A v Sunderland (1R) 1-1, H v Sunderland 1-0 (1RR); H v Doncaster Rovers 3-0. Prize money: £90,000. FA Cup stat: Gillingham beat Premier League Cardiff 1-0 at this stage last season.

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