With the majority of League One sides in FA Cup action this Saturday, Alan Dudman feels Preston could be vulnerable to Martin Allen's Gillingham, whilst Notts County and Bournemouth face tough ties for the pick of the weekend's matches.
Eddie Howe is so great (as I am often saying here), the new Cherries boss has been inducted into the Bournemouth club shop on a t-shirt. Yes, Eddie has his own range in the superstore, and who can say that about their boss?
The south coast outfit are still unbeaten in the league since Howe's return to the Goldsands, and his ability to galvanise the squad has been astonishing. Recent loan signing Brett Pittman (who scored at the weekend with a sublime finish) spoke of the quality in the team - which is probably too hot for most teams in the division.
The dreaded cliched phrase for FA Cup games is usually trotted out in one form or another, with 'league form goes out of the window' the raging hot favourite. This will have to be true for backers of Carlisle, who were ripped apart by the Cherries 4-2 in October - and the scoreline could have been even more.
Carlisle's big problem this season has been the goals against column, a whopping 25 have been shipped on home soil, and the one team you don't want to face again is Bournemouth. Their woeful defensive record has contributed to seven of their last eight matches all over 2.5 goals.
The visitors will be without 'Hollywood' Harry Arter (suspended), and striker Lee Barnard (ineligible), but they are a side with goals in them. I anticipate plenty of action down the flanks, as Howe sets his teams up to win.
Rotherham claimed the League One scalp of Stevenage in the FA Cup first round, and according to manager
Steve Evans this week should be seen as the favourites if they had a fully fit squad. The hosts do have injury worries going into Saturday but are flying at home - winning seven of their 10 matches and scoring 22 times in the process.
Notts County's strength this season (and under Keith Curle since his appointment) has been their away form, and they remain unbeaten on their travels this term. Disappointingly, their last seven games have included just one solitary match over 2.5 goals. I say disappointingly, as I have had Curle's team down as a really attacking side that have played some terrific stuff on occasions.
The Magpies arrive in round two thanks to a 2-0 win at Portsmouth and are generally looking more resilient these days. Saturday's League One victory over Swindon was their first win at home since September - thanks to another brilliant goal from midfielder Alan Judge.
Judge is part of an exciting midfield, and he is a threat from long range and also his runs from deep. I still might keep the faith with another try at an overs bet, although the market seems to agree with me.
Preston North End 2.021/1 v Gillingham 4.10n/a, the draw 3.6013/5
The potential shock punt will involve a play on Gillingham this Saturday, who are very attractive in price for the trip to Deepdale. Having covered Brentford in my football reporting days, I know how Gills boss Martin Allen can inspire his teams for a cup run.
Allen took Brentford to the FA Cup fifth round in two consecutive years, and were good enough to score goals against the might of Southampton, Sunderland and Charlton. I have always greatly respected the former West Ham player as a coach, and maybe hasn't got the credit he deserves. His methods are working in Kent, with Gillingham top of League Two.
Preston have not blown me away this term, and their goal should be promotion under Graham Westley. If I were a Whites fan, I would say I was still undecided if Westley has been a success. They really need to hit top gear if they are to gain a place in the Championship, as they have drawn too many games at home this term.
Back Gillingham to win @ 4.10n/a