Notts County have been drawn against Crawley Town in the opening round of the most historic domestic cup competition in the world and should set their sights on a cup run.
The current standings in League 2 leave County second, level on 30 points with Wrexham after a 2-0 loss at Meadow Lane last weekend.
The cup arguably comes at a good point for the Magpies after struggling in recent weeks, succumbing to losses against Wrexham and a 4-1 humiliation against local rivals, Mansfield, who themselves sit pretty at the summit of the table, on 29 points and eyeing up that third automatic promotion spot.
It provides a distraction and a chance for Luke Williams to put faith in his fringe players, giving them their chance to prove a point that they can be the one to guide County to back-to-back promotions when the league season resumes the following week.
Crawley aren’t to be underestimated, sitting comfortably in 14th and the FA Cup has provided bigger shocks than a Crawley away victory despite them only winning two of nine away matches in all competitions this season.
Despite County’s somewhat dodgy home record this season, only winning six of 11 home games while sitting so high in the table, I’ll still back County for the win and a cup run would be good as a morale booster to propel them further in their bid for promotion.
Platform Predictions: Notts County 2-0 Crawley Town
The history of the FA Cup in Nottingham
Both Nottingham Forest and Notts County have found success in the FA Cup in their history, albeit not for a long time.
Nottingham Forest triumphed in 1887/88 with a 3-1 victory over arch-rivals Derby County at Crystal Palace to secure their first of two FA Cup trophies.
The second came over half a century later in 1958/59 where the Reds were victorious over Luton Town, beating them at Wembley two goals to one.
Notts County have lifted the infamous trophy on one occasion in the 1893/94 season, swamping Bolton Wonderers 4-1 at Goodison Park.
In recent years, the successes of the late 19th Century have been a far cry with Forest falling victim to a 4-1 rout at the hands of Blackpool in 2022/23, a side who went on to get relegated to League 1.
It’s fair to say Notts County didn’t cover themselves in glory last season either, falling short of the First Round Proper with defeat in the Fourth qualifying round, losing 3-2 at Meadow Lane to Coalville Town, a team competing in the Isthmian League, the seventh and eighth step of English football.
There’s been good memories too however.
Within four seasons, Forest managed to draw Arsenal in the cup twice, beating the team who hold the record for most FA Cup victories on both occasions.
In 2022, Forest edged a 1-0 win at the City Ground, four years on from their spectacular 4-2 victory which featured a stunning volley from full back Eric Lichaj to give Arsene Wenger his first ever third round victory.
The 1-0 victory against Arsenal in 2022, the clubs promotion winning year, was followed up with a resounding 4-1 humbling of holders, Leicester City. Forest went on to crash out in the Quarter Finals with defeat to Liverpool.
In 1996, Forest came up against Tottenham in the Fifth Round. The match ended 2-2, resulting in penalties.
Three perfectly executed strikes matched with three outstanding saves from Forest ‘keeper Mark Crossley saw Forest progress.
1991 was the year Forest fans believed it would be their year as they earned their place at Wembley with a 4-0 victory over West Ham. Goals from Roy Keane and club legend Stuart Pearce helped them along the way.
2011 saw the Magpies embark on a mini cup run, reaching the Fourth Round, beating Gateshead, Bournemouth and Premier League Sunderland before hosting Manchester City at Meadow Lane.
Neal Bishop opened the scoring with a glanced header over Joe Hart from a corner to send County fans into dreamland before Edin Dzeko equalised to take the game to a replay.
Eventual winners Manchester City ran out 5-0 victors over League 1 County but it’s the home fixture that holds the memory.
Here’s hoping both Nottingham sides can go far in the cup this season and overcome recent shortcomings.