Ian Lamont casts his eye across the first round ties, backing Exeter to earn a famous victory over the Tangerines, and a win for unfashionable Crewe, but says MK Dons and Cambridge might need replays to progress...
"Dave Artell has said he will stick with his youngsters, even if they have a bad game, and rely on progressing the club's famed youth policy. It is notable that they only have Kevin O'Connor, from Preston, on loan this season."
Kick-offs: Saturday, 15:00, unless stated
Grecians can manage without Moxey
Exeter [4.0] v Blackpool [2.4]; the draw [3.4]
Fans probably have longer memories, or attachment, to previous encounters, but there are still quite a few players within the Exeter squad who will remember their League Two play-off final defeat, 2-1 to Blackpool, from just over a year ago.
While Paul Tisdale took a couple of players with him to Milton Keynes, there will be plenty of players who will see this as a chance for revenge, especially as the Seasiders have lost five of their six most recent away matches in the FA Cup, and in fact only beaten the Grecians once on their own turf in nine attempts, as Opta point out.
Dean Moxey's sending off against Tranmere couldn't have been worse timing for the hosts, but before that game boss Matt Taylor hinted that keeper Christy Pym was on his way back after injury while seeking someone to step into the shoes of Hiram Boateng, who is out for three months after injuring himself in the warm-up at Crawley.
He's had a big influence on the dressing room and I am sure he will be urging his team-mates on, dreaming of a return in time for a third round match in the New Year.
League One Blackpool are going pretty well in League One, with four away draws to give them a chance of something at St James' Park, where the hosts have five wins and two defeats, plus a decent 16-9 goal difference in League Two. However, the Tangerines have lost two of their last three league games, before beating Gillingham 1-0 last Saturday.
Temporary boss Terry McPhillips said they made a "big statement" with that win, having been exhausted after their League Cup exploits at Arsenal after a good league run.
Will Nathan Delfonso and Mark Cullen be contained by Aaron Martin and Pierce Sweeney in a defence shorn of Moxey? And will Jayden Stockley find that one chance to shine up front?
Mariners can stifle Tisdale's men
Grimsby [5.0] v MK Dons [1.8]; the draw [4.0]
Now here's an interesting point from Opta: The last time these two sides met - the only time in league competition - they drew 1-1. So this is almost a replay situation! That was back in August, however, and the Mariners have continued to be up and down, while their visitors have just continued to go up.
Paul Tisdale, their manager, proved at Exeter that he is very capable of conjuring an exciting cup run, although ultimately he never achieved the desired promotion. His new club seem in finer shape to achieve that, sitting pretty in second place in League Two.
There's no reason a League Two club shouldn't enjoy a few rounds of the FA Cup and still achieve the ultimate aim of going up. Scorers Kieran Agard, Chuks Aneke and Rhys Healey will hear how well the Grecians did in the past from Jordan Moore-Taylor, having played at Anfield with the West Country club in January 2016 and held Liverpool to a draw.
A few weeks ago, the Mariners looked like they were in good shape to grind out a lucrative result. However, they haven't now scored in three games (unless you count Mansfield's own goal) but are still looking relatively tight, conceding just once or twice per game. That was after a run of three wins when the reverse happened.
They don't seem to do draws - just three in League Two. Michael Jolley has been delighted with the form of James McKeown, having worked hard to retain him in the summer. The keeper was nominated for League Two player of the month in October, having kept four clean sheets.
I suspect he and defenders such as Reece Hall-Johnson will be quite busy on Saturday, but you'd like to think Ben Pringle would be inspired by the tie, having admitted that his Championship days with Preston, his parent club, might be over.
Artell's faith in youth can pay off
Crewe [2.6] v Carlisle [3.0]; the draw [3.6]
David Artell said recently that he doesn't think he knows his best XI. Which doesn't surprise me at all. He strikes me as the type of guy who has a strong element of going with the flow and taking things as they come, which hinders decisive decision making.
Nonetheless, he has also stated recently that at least, with a solid defensive record, his Crewe team only had one major problem on which to focus - creating and scoring goals. That was a few weeks ago, since when the Railwaymen have lost 3-0 at home to Mansfield and 2-0 at Northampton. So now perhaps he is back to where he says he was last season, where it was one problem after another.
Peter Ng says he is loving his spell at Gresty Road, where the hosts have a strong record having scored 13 and only conceded five times.
Alex Nicholls is frustrated with not having enough game time, which he recognises comes down to not impressing Artell enough during training or when he does get the chance. The manager has also said he will stick with his youngsters, even if they have a bad game, and rely on progressing the club's famed youth policy. It is notable that they only have Kevin O'Connor, from Preston, on loan this season.
Promoting from within is a noble policy, but will it pan out in the long-term? Carlisle have won at Cheltenham, Cambridge, Bury and Oldham this season - with the Shakers probably the only team who will threaten the top echelons of League Two this season.
Recently, John Sheridan's side - who beat Crewe at home in August - have lost three and drawn one of their last six matches, winning their last thanks to a Danny Grainger strike in injury time, Jamie Devitt scoring two early goals before Newport levelled.
Top scorer Ashley Nadesan, on loan from Fleetwood, won't be available after Joey Barton vetoed him playing, which just shows you the difficulties of the loan system. Their four other loanees will be allowed to play, including Fleetwood's Jack Sowerby. Hallam Hope could also return, so Crewe's praised, but since bruised, backline will have to be on their toes, but I think the hosts can prevail.
Guiseley can hold Dunne's improvers
Guiseley [4.2] v Cambridge United [1.8]; the draw [4.4]
A few weeks ago, this fixture looked tastier than perhaps it does now. Cambridge United were struggling near the foot of League Two, struggling to muster points - they had one draw in a run of seven winless games.
Joe Dunne and his squad were continuously bemoaning their luck, figuring results would turn. And so they have. Now they are on a run of three straight wins, all with clean sheets, but by only one or two goals.
A string of injury-hit players have returned to the extent that many of the youth team are being considered for loans in non-league, rather than aspiring to vacancies on the bench for league match days.
I don't think Dunne will be tempted to field any untried teenagers in this one. He is just glad that super sub midfielder Paul Lewis has shown enough desire and heart to take his chance with - another - late winning goal for the Abbey Stadium side, who have good memories of hosting the likes of Manchester United just a few years ago. In return, Lewis has praised the boss for keeping the team's spirits up when they were on that poor run.
Jevani Brown is now benefiting from Jabo Ibehre's return after a spell on the sidelines, with both players scoring recently.
Guiseley should not be underestimated, despite lying in mid-table two divisions down in the Conference North. Joint manager Marcos Bignot will be a familiar name to League Two watchers, having manager Grimsby in the division on the back of success at Solihull Moors.
Midfielder Will Hatfield is a former Accrington player, while they have a big, experienced striker in the form of Kayode Odejayi, now 36 and much travelled in the lower football leagues, alongside fellow front man Rowan Liburd, who is a decade younger and still looking for that shot in the big time.
Andy Hall looks like he will be a formidable opponent to get past at the back - and he scores the odd goal, too. Guiseley will be well organised and at the price I'm prepared to suggest Cambridge will have to take them back for a replay in order to add to the Opta stat that they have won their last five first-round ties. Guiseley have never won a first round tie, from 10 previous attempts.
Ian Lamont's P/L 2018-19
League Two +14.92pt
Back Exeter @ [4.0] to beat Blackpool
Back Grimsby and MK Dons to draw @ [4.0] Back Crewe @ [2.6] to beat Carlisle Back Guiseley and Cambridge United to draw @ [4.4]