The FA Cup is back. This time, it’s the first-round proper, meaning clubs from League 1 and League 2 start their journey to Wembley. Bet365 have priced up the goal scorer market. This naturally means there will be value to be had, as the bookmakers will naturally under-price the Non-League sides. With that in my mind, I have a 61.75 treble, including a couple of singles that I think represent value.
The first game of the treble is an all sixth-tier affair as National League North side Alfreton host Worthing at the Impact Arena.
The hosts currently sit in fifth place in the NLN, where they finished last season, before a 1-0 playoff defeat to Kidderminster. It is the first time in five years that Alfreton has gotten to the first round proper, so Billy Heath’s side will be relishing this challenge. Alfreton are in good form, gaining 10 points from their last five and only losing once in their 10 home games thus far. However, despite the form for the hosts, it is a Worthing player who makes up the first selection.
The Rebels sit eighth in the NLS, despite picking up just four points in their last five league games. A 2-0 victory away at Bath in their last game stopped the rut. Adam Hinshelwood has been crucial in the progress seen on the South Coast, with Worthing aiming for promotion to the National League. They have a young squad and excel at developing the youth, with a number of youngsters leaving Woodside Road to ply their trade in the Football League.
One player who has joined the Rebels in an attempt to get a promising career back on track is 22-year-old Danny Cashman. The Brighton academy graduate joined Coventry City after being released from the Seagulls before going out on loan to Rochdale, Walsall, and Altrincham. He has since joined Worthing in an attempt to earn a move back to the Football League. Hinshelwood’s side possesses a lot of talented attackers, such as Jake Robinson, Greg Luer, and Bailey Smith, so Cashman has stiff competition for his role.
Cashman has found his shooting boots in recent weeks, with his brace in the fourth qualifying round sending Worthing to the first round proper for the first time in 24 years. He also notched in the 4-1 hammering by Hampton & Richmond. The 22-year-old is small in frame but deceptively strong. His speed and footballing intelligence allow him to constantly be in good goalscoring positions, so the odds of 4.75 for him to make it four goals in the space of a couple of weeks is too big to turn down, especially given his FA Cup exploits in the last round.
Selection: Danny Cashman to score- 4.75
A clash between sides separated by one division next as League 2 Swindon welcome National League side to the County Ground.
Swindon, managed by Michael Flynn, have had an inconsistent start to the season and currently sit in 10th. With 33 goals scored and 24 conceded in 15 games for an average of 3.8 goals per game, it is fair to say that the Robins games are full of entertainment. Flynn’s side have struggled in recent weeks, with only one win in seven games in all competitions. With a small and stretched squad having an effect on Swindon, a buoyant Aldershot may fancy their chances of an upset.
Tommy Widdrington has been an excellent appointment for Aldershot and has them dreaming of an unlikely playoff finish, with the Shots currently sitting in 7th. His side has scored and conceded 32 goals, with their games averaging 3.5 goals per game. The strike force of 22-year-old Lorent Tolaj and 19-year-old Josh Stokes has been a real positive, with the pair boasting 15 league goals between them. While Stokes is a mouth-watering 8.00 to add to his impressive goal tally, I am siding with his striker partner Tolaj to score at 4.33.
Signed in the summer from Brighton, the 22-year-old has been in fine fettle, scoring 10 goals in all competitions in 19 appearances. This includes a recent brace against Maidenhead and a hat-trick in the last round, a 4-1 demolishing of Lewes. The Swiss striker has experience in the Football League, having had loan spells at Cambridge and Salford before joining Aldershot permanently. His physicality could cause problems for a leaky Swindon defence. This game has the potential for an FA Cup classic.
Selection: Lorent Tolaj to score - 4.33
My favourite selection and the star singles come from a potentially mouth-watering, goal-glutanous game between Southern League South Division side Chesham and National League South side Maidstone United.
Chesham have had a strong start to the season as they aim to gain promotion to the sixth tier. Joint managers James Duncan and Michael Murray’s are in their sixth season at the Meadow and will be hoping to guide the Generals to promotion. They currently sit third in the league with 29 points after 12 games, three points off league leaders Gosport with two games in hand. They’ve scored an impressive 30 goals at an average of 2.5 goals per game. They have, however, struggled defensively, conceding 14 goals and keeping only three clean sheets. Chesham fans have certainly not been short of entertainment, with 10/12 of their games seeing over 2.5 goals. They have already defeated National League South opposition to get to the first round, beating Braintree 3-1 at home in a replay.
The goals of in-form forward Ricardo German have been imperative in this run, with the 24-year-old boasting 13 goals in the league this season, with all of these coming in the last nine. German has a history of non-league goal-scoring antics. He scored 28 goals in 21 games for Hendon before sealing a move to Crawley.
After a shambolic season that saw them relegated from the National League with 25 points after conceding 104 goals, Maidstone are looking to rebuild and get promoted at the first time of asking. For the first time in four years, the Stones are in the first round proper of the FA Cup. George Elokobi’s side currently sits fifth in the league, having only lost twice in their opening 14 games. One player that has caught the eye this season is 22-year-old Levi Amantchi, who is second-top scorer in the National League with eight goals.
A powerful, physical striker standing at 6’4, Amantchi is realising his potential after taking a step down to the National League South. The 22-year-old has scored 11 in his last 11, including four braces. On top of this, he has scored five in three appearances in the FA Cup so far this season.
Selection: Levi Amantchi to score - 3.00
Levi Amantchi to Score - 3.00
Ricardo German to Score - 3.40
Amantchi to score a brace - 13:00
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