Aspirations of reaching the Emirates FA Cup third round swept across the nation this weekend with 36 of the 40 teams fighting for their place in Monday’s draw.
This phase holds great importance for those who want to keep the dream alive, with a third round spot placing all those who have performed valiantly in the earlier stages together with the ‘big boys’ from the Premier League and Championship.
- The Emirates FA Cup
- Second Round Proper
- Sunday 2 December 2018
- ProAct Stadium, Chesterfield
- Winners receive £54,000 from prize fund
Last time out a Tom Denton hat-trick against Billericay got Chesterfield to this stage of the competition after going to a replay, while Grimsby Town defeated League Two high-flyers MK Dons by 3-1 with Elliot Embleton, Wes Thomas and Charles Vernam all getting on the scoresheet.
Despite the Spireites having gone 12 unbeaten in all competitions, Grimsby’s free-flowing football paved the way to victory as they ran out as 2-0 victors courtesy of Vernam and Harry Clifton goals either side of half time.
The affair proved cagey throughout the 90 minutes, but Town’s professionalism outweighed the momentous effort put in by Chesterfield who just lacked quality in the final third.
It was Denton who had the opening opportunity of the game as Alex Kiwomya crossed dangerously, but Andrew Fox blocked superbly after the striker stretched with all his might to get a toe to the ball following some pinball in the box.
The attack though was still not over as the hot potato rendition continued with Jordan Hallam following up with a second attempt, which was scrambled desperately to safety by Town goalkeeper James McKeown.
After 36 minutes, it was time for the Mariners to strike as Thomas flicked the ball across the face of goal towards Vernam who managed to bundle the ball into the back of the net after two bites at the cherry.
Chesterfield looked to capitalise on set-piece routines, but referee Michael Salisbury was adamant during the early moments of the second half that Will Evans, who replaced the suspended Laurence Maguire, brother of Harry, was far too elaborate in his gracious ballerina-esque fall to the ground.
Minutes later, the Spireites continued their search for an equaliser with Curtis Weston driving a shot goal-bound but it was crucially deflected behind for a corner.
However, Grimsby’s quality continued to overshadow Chesterfield’s efforts as Thomas fed through Clifton who expertly cut in-front of defender Bradley Barry, and much like the Mariners’ first goal, eventually got the ball over the line at the second attempt.
“We weren’t at our best but it was a competitive cup tie and we’re pleased to be in the third round,” said Mariners boss Michael Jolley.
“There’s some frustration in us that we haven’t played at the level we know we can, and yet we’ve won the game 2-0 and in the end we’ve seen it out quite professionally.
“I’m really pleased to get the win. From a club perspective, obviously a draw that would give us some kind of financial benefit would be significant for us.
“There are other clubs at our level that have gained significantly by having that kind of a draw and a good run.”