The thrills of the FA Cup second round

Doncaster for the second time in a month isn't the most inspiring of fixtures is it?

But then again, that is what the FA Cup second round is like. There is not much likelihood of being drawn against glamorous opposition and the real interest lies in getting through the game and having a ball in the bag for round three.

The Club has been spared the agonies of the first and second rounds of The FA Cup for most of its history. In fact, since promotion from The Third Division (South) in 1935 we have only been required to compete from the first round on nine occasions. The worrying fact is that we have only managed to reach the third round on four of those occasions.

Bournemouth, Peterborough, Northwich Victoria, MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon are the giants of the game who have stopped us in our tracks before the big boys enter the hat.

In 1972/73 we saw off Tonbridge and Walsall before succumbing 0-4 to Bolton in a third round replay played on a "pitch resembling an ice rink".

1980/81 was a different matter. Having disposed of Harlow Town we progressed to round three courtesy of late Walsh and Hales goals against Bournemouth.  There was another late Hales goal in the third round 2-1 win at Plymouth which set us up  for the battle of the strikers at Craven Cottage on 24th January. "Ivor" Davies equalised Peter Shaw's early opener in the 51st minute but this only served to stir Hales into action. Within five minutes he had scored the goal which took us to First Division leaders Ipswich Town in the fifth round. A crowd of 30,221 saw us put up a creditable performance in a 2-0 defeat. It was a great day out for everyone except Les Berry who famously broke his nose.

It was to be another thirty years before we were to battle through rounds one and two (against Barnet and Luton) to earn the right to grace White Hart Lane in round three. Under caretaker manager Keith Peacock we held Tottenham quite comfortably until half time when Harry Redknapp introduced substitute Luca Modric. Two of the goals in our 0-3 defeat were scored by West Ham youth product Jermaine Defoe.

Chris Powell was in command when the following year we put paid to FC Halifax and Carlisle to earn a trip to Craven Cottage. The air was full of optimism and the mood was high. Most of the 4,000 Charlton supporters at the game will recall that we played Fulham off the park but somehow lost 0-4. It left us to concentrate on the league, which we did.

When we played Doncaster a month ago in the league both teams were on poor runs and their 0-2 defeat at The Valley was Doncaster's fifth in seven games. However, like Charlton, they have improved since then - beating Wimbledon and Blackpool and getting a draw at Barnsley in the league plus thrashing Chorley 7-0 in their cup replay.

Much will depend on team selection and few would blame Lee Bowyer if he shelters some of his players ahead of forthcoming away games at Blackpool and Portsmouth. But a big communal and unified day out somewhere is just what Charlton fans need at the moment so we pray for safe passage on Saturday and a favourable draw for January 5th

A late Naby Sarr winner at Old Trafford beckons.