FA Cup Round 1 is the time when the minnows make their dreams come true and league teams merely want to avoid the shock.
Shocks, unlikely draws, favourites at prohibitively short prices and often some pretty unwelcoming conditions make the first round of the FA Cup an absolute minefield from a betting perspective and subsequently it’s hard to find value despite the high number of games to choose from.
Trying to earmark potential upsets is one method but as the bulk of non-league teams will lose if they face league opposition, it’s a scattergun approach and one that is about as likely to succeed as boosting your accumulator with a huge list of long odds-on shots.
Tread carefully is the best betting advice then and heeding this, we’re going to give the majority of strong favourites a wide berth this weekend.
However, there are some teams that just don’t seem like potential losers and falling into that category are Hereford. The much-improved Bulls came within a whisker of registering a first home win in midweek, conceding late in the day in a 2-2 draw with Aldershot and their form lately has been pretty solid.
Crucially they possess home advantage as they come up against Kent League Premier Division Hythe Town who ply their trade a full five leagues below Jamie Pitman’s men and such is the gulf between the two sides that it’s difficult to see the minnows avoiding a defeat at Edgar Street, where the Bulls are 2/9 with Betfred. Nevertheless, the risk to reward ratio still doesn’t make United tempting and even though it’s tough to envisage an upset, we’re happier to lean towards a statistics-related odds-against single in this one.
In Hereford’s last nine games in all competitions, the deadlock has been broken no later than the 25th minute and in two-thirds of those matches the opener has been scored in the first quarter of an hour. Subsequently, with one of the defences involved here significantly weaker than any in that sequence, William Hill’s 15/8 for the first goal to fly in before the 16th minute mark is worth considering and the cautious could even cover the period between 16-30 minutes at 11/5 just in case.
League Two leaders Chesterfield, at 4/9 (Coral), can also emerge unscathed from their trip to Ryman League outfit Harrow and the buoyant Spireites, fresh from thumping Accrington 5-2 on Tuesday, are a solid bet at 5/4 with 888Sport to prevail by at least two goals.
Also standing out in the handicaps are Carlisle, Coral’s 2/9 favourites at home to Tipton Town of the Midland Football Alliance. This is another tie in which home advantage is crucial as the Cumbrians tend to be strong on their own patch and even giving the visitors a two-goal head start, Greg Abbott’s men, at 6/4 (bet365) can run away with it.
Elsewhere, Crawley are 4/5 with to get the better of Guiseley, Stan James quote Brentford identically as they host Aldershot and also at 4/5 (Paddy Power) are Bournemouth, who face League One counterparts Tranmere.
The final recommendation however, comes at Underhill, where Barnet face Charlton. The latter have turned their form around of late winning their last three while the struggling Bees have now lost four out of five and currently prop up League Two. Stan James’ 10/11 for an away success therefore looks huge but perhaps a better bet involves Addicks striker Paul Benson. The former Dagenham man has a relatively impressive six goals in eleven matches this term but the eye catching statistic is that all of those have been struck in the last seven matches, so Benson has really built up a head of steam of late. He’s 4/1 courtesy of William Hill to open the scoring in this one and evens at Paddy Power to find the net at any point.
First goal in Hereford v Hythe scored between 0-16 minutes – 15/8 (William Hill)
Chesterfield (-1) to beat Harrow – 5/4 (888Sport)
Carlisle (-2) to beat Tipton Town – 6/4 (bet365)
Paul Benson to score at any time for Charlton at Barnet – evens (Paddy Power)