With the second round of the FA Cup taking place this weekend, we have analysed the data from the second round draws from the previous 10 years to see how this season’s draw compares, whilst also taking a look at the non-league clubs hoping to make it into the hat for the chance to draw one of the Premier League big boys in the third round.
Firstly, let us take a look at the breakdown of the draw. The second round contains 40 teams (14 from League One, 16 from League Two and 10 non-league outfits).
The following chart shows the number of teams in the draw from each level of the football pyramid and compares it to the average for the last 10 years.
The three lowest ranked teams in the competition are all from the seventh tier of the football pyramid. No level eight teams made it through to the second round this year.
Looking at the breakdown of the ties in the draw, we can see that there are no all non-league ties, so we are not guaranteed any non-league teams in the third round.
The FA Cup is all about shock results and giant killings and there are seven ties featuring teams two or more levels apart, which could produce the shocks that headline writers yearn for.
The following table shows the ties featuring teams two levels or more apart.
On average, four non-league teams make it through to the third round, although this of course depends on how many non-league teams there are in round two and how the breakdown of ties works out for the non-league teams. 2008-09 was a bumper year for non-league teams, with eight progressing, but this year looks as though it will be a little leaner with a predicted progression of just one non-league team.
The following graph shows how the number of shocks (any team defeating a team from a higher level) correlates with the number of ties featuring teams at the same level and the number of ties featuring teams just one level apart.
The predicted number of shocks in round two for 2017-18 is just three.
The following table shows the ties which feature league vs non-league teams along with the recent second round progress ratio for each team – this shows the number of times each team has progressed to round three vs the number of times they have appeared in round two (in the last 10 years). We have highlighted some of the ties in which we think an upset is most likely.
Coventry City vs Boreham Wood
Boreham Wood are playing fine football in the National League and are currently on a 12-game unbeaten run in all competitions. With an impressive win against League One Blackpool in round one under their belt, it is possible to argue the case for them at least earning a replay against 1987 FA Cup winners Coventry City.
Milton Keynes Dons vs Maidstone United
Maidstone brushed League Two’s Cheltenham Town aside in round one and will be looking forward to this cup game as a welcome break from the league where they have experienced back-to-back defeats. MK Dons have an impressive progress ratio from round two in recent years, but if they underestimate their opposition then don’t be surprised if Maidstone United rediscover their form and cause an upset.
A.F.C. Fylde vs Wigan Athletic
Wigan are not used to playing in the FA Cup at this early stage and the 2013 winners will be in for a huge battle when they travel the short distance to A.F.C. Fylde in front of the BBC cameras and a hostile crowd at Mill Farm. Both teams are in good form with Wigan top of League One and Fylde taking nine points from their last four league games.
Slough Town vs Rochdale
Slough had arguably the best performance in round one with a 6-0 thrashing away at Gainsborough Trinity. A tie against League One Rochdale is more than likely a step too far for them, but with Rochdale struggling in League One and Slough riding high on confidence, this tie could just produce the shock of the round.