The first round proper of the FA Cup can be an absolute minefield for punters, with non-league teams punching above their weight to catch higher-placed opposition cold and seemingly vulnerable league teams defying form to avoid upsets.
That’s not to say there aren’t a few bankers dotted around, it’s just a matter of finding them while it’s also worth scouring the coupon for value where decent underdogs are concerned as bookies occasionally underestimate decent teams from outside of the football league.
One team that doesn’t look susceptible to a shock is Leyton Orient, the highest-placed team in the competition at this stage. The O’s top League One, are on the back of a stunning 3-1 success at promotion rivals Peterborough and enjoy home advantage against a Southport side with a dismal away record. Coral’s 3/10 about an Orient success is definitely one for the accumulator then.
Another side that should be too strong to succumb to non-league opposition is Fleetwood, who top League Two after a 4-1 victory last week. The confident Cod Army, at 8/15 with Betfred, are a class apart from Gloucester City and can demonstrate as much at Cheltenham’s Whaddon Road.
League One pair Brentford (2/7, William Hill) and Gillingham (1/2, Coral) are taken to overcome Staines and Brackley respectively on home soil and Skrill Premier high-flyers Kidderminster are a decent price at 8/13 via Stan James as they entertain Conference South outfit Sutton United.
Harriers will have been given an ear bashing by boss Steve Burr having been taken to extra-time in a replay by Bradford Park Avenue in the previous round and they can make shorter work of the visitors on this occasion.
In terms of potential upsets, the current best non-league team, Cambridge United, are a mystifyingly high 13/5 at bet365 to get the better of Bury at Gigg Lane. The U’s have only lost one of their 17 games this term and come up against a Shakers outfit struggling badly in League Two.
Braintree are also a decent Skrill Premier outfit and with home advantage they’re overpriced at 21/10 (Betfred) as they take on Newport and improving Macclesfield, who defeated Swindon at the County Ground at this stage in the competition last season, are 17/4 via bet365 to repeat the feat when the pair renew hostilities at Moss Rose.
Accumulator on Leyton Orient, Fleetwood, Brentford, Gillingham & Kidderminster – 5/1 (Coral)
Cambridge to beat Bury – 13/5 (bet365)
Braintree to beat Newport – 21/10 (Betfred)
Macclesfield to beat Swindon – 17/4 (bet365)