Alfreton boss Billy Heath believes his players can still become the first in the club’s history to reach the FA Cup third round.

The Derbyshire part-timers fought out a 0-0 home draw with League Two Walsall, with Heath arguing that his outfit were the better team against a side that ply their trade two divisions higher.

He went on to admit that a replay in the Midlands represents a tougher proposition, but feels that his “magnificent” side remain capable of progressing with Championship Southampton awaiting the victors at St Mary’s.

“It was a close game and both teams had chances, but I thought we edged it,” Heath said.

“We had a bit more goalmouth action and our two chances were the most clear-cut opportunities to score, so we are disappointed with that, but the players were magnificent and we really gave as good as we got.

“We’ve also got to remind ourselves that some of our players were at work today and some were stuck in traffic and nearly didn’t get here, so it’s fantastic what they have achieved tonight.

“Hopefully they will get more credit than we get in the league now, because we have some really good individuals with great character.

“They have shown that in this tie and we are still in it, which is the main thing. It will be even more difficult at their place but we won’t be going there to go out with a whimper and still think we can win the tie.”

Walsall boss Mat Sadler was subjected to chants of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” by unimpressed away fans, who have seen their team win just once in nine contests – against Isthmian League minnows Sheppey United in the previous round.

The Saddlers have also failed to net in three successive matches, but an under-pressure Sadler declared that he was pleased with the manner in which his team did not buckle in the face of repeated long throws into their box from home midfielder Adam Lund.

“You have to respect whatever the supporters are saying, but we have had a tough spell with injuries and I’m pleased with how incredibly hard the team we put out worked tonight,” Sadler insisted.

“We had some good moments and controlled long parts of the game, so there were plenty of positives but we didn’t quite have that bit at the end, which is not happening for us at the moment.

“It will come and sometimes you just need a goal to go off somebody’s backside, earlobe or whatever. But we also showed great resilience to deal with their long throw, which is a hell of a weapon.

“Fair play to them – they use it well and use it from everywhere, but we stood up to that and it was a very competitive cup tie.”

Alfreton’s hopes of reaching the FA Cup third round for the first time in their history remain alive following a battling 0-0 home draw with Walsall.

There was little to choose between the National League North hosts and the Saddlers, who ply their trade two divisions higher.

The Derbyshire part-timers will travel to the Midlands for the replay still optimistic that they can land a trip to Championship Southampton, who await the winners.

Walsall were controversially denied a third-minute opener when Alfreton keeper George Willis was awarded a free-kick, even though he did not appear to have been impeded as he helped an inswinging Ryan Stirk corner into his own net.

At the other end, Adam Lund’s long throws caused issues for the Saddlers’ defence with Jackson Smith making a flying save to keep out Dwayne Wiley’s header after the home midfielder had hurled the ball into the box.

The visitors squandered an excellent opportunity to forge in front early in the second period when an unopposed Isaac Hutchinson fired wastefully over from eight yards.

But Alfreton midfielder Harrison Perritt twice went close to winning the tie for Town – his first attempt bouncing just wide and the second forcing a smart parry by Smith.

Ben Smith insists he is proud of Ramsgate’s FA Cup run despite elimination following a 5-0 defeat against AFC Wimbledon at Plough Lane.

Iraq international Ali Al-Hamadi scored twice for the Dons, with Jake Reeves, Josh Neufville and Connor Lemonheigh-Evans also finding the net.

The Rams started the evening as the lowest-ranked team left in this season’s competition, but the five-goal defeat means they miss out on a home clash with Championship high-flyers Ipswich.

However, Smith was delighted to see his side stick to their style of play against EFL opposition.

“I am proud of the boys, I thought they gave it their all,” he said.

“I can’t say a player didn’t give me everything, they went to the last minute, and we did it in bucket loads.

“I think at times we did show some composure, and we did move the ball well, I just think we came up against a much better and stronger level of opposition than we are used to.

“They pressed the life out of us at times, we just didn’t have the answers in terms of forward passes.

“I would liked to have seen us score a goal, we had a couple of chances and their keeper pulled off a great save in the first half.

“It was just not to be, but I am proud of the players, it is not about tonight it is about the journey.

“You can see from the support at the end there, it was incredible.

“We move forward, it is about the league now, and this club needs to be higher than it is, that is our job, and we will use this as a springboard.”

Johnnie Jackson believes the Tractor Boys will provide a tough test when they travel to south London in the third round.

He said: “They are a top side and they are doing a great job there.

“They are doing some great stuff, and they have a chance of going up to the Premier League this year with what they are doing in the Championship.

“It will be a really tough game, but we know that, but we have been excellent here of late.

“That is five on the bounce now at home, so we feel like we can match teams, especially here.

“It will be the other way round, we will be looking to cause the shock and they will be looking to get the job done.

“The Ramsgate fans were class, they really added to the atmosphere of the game and they will probably be a bit disappointed that they did not see their team score.

“Credit to them, credit to Ben and his team, they have done themselves proud.”

Ali Al-Hamadi scored twice as AFC Wimbledon beat Ramsgate 5-0 to set up an FA Cup third-round clash with Championship high-flyers Ipswich.

The Rams started the evening as the lowest-ranked team left in the competition and were behind after just eight minutes when Al-Hamadi pounced on a loose pass before feeding Jake Reeves, who rifled a powerful strike into the top-left corner.

The hosts doubled their advantage when Iraq international Al-Hamadi poked home at the far post following a melee in the box, and it was three when Josh Neufville stroked the ball into an empty net in the 43rd minute.

The Isthmian League South East side kept fighting, with their best chance of the half falling to Lee Martin, but his close-range effort flew over the crossbar.

Connor Lemonheigh-Evans found the bottom right corner with a driven shot to put the Dons 4-0 up three minutes after half-time.

Al-Hamadi scored his second of the match five minutes later to wrap up a convincing win, intercepting another poor Rams pass before finding the top right corner.

Phil Parkinson is relishing Wrexham’s derby clash against Shrewsbury in the FA Cup third round after putting in “a professional performance” to see off non-league Yeovil.

First-half goals from Ollie Palmer and Andy Cannon and substitute Sam Dalby’s stoppage-time strike dumped the National League South leaders out, with the Red Dragons facing League One Shrewsbury away in January.

Parkinson is excited by the prospect of taking on the Shrews, but was happy with what he saw as they ground out a win against the Glovers.

Parkinson said: “I thought it was a professional performance from us. These games are never easy.

“We had to work for it, we were patient with the ball in the first half and the moments came with two good goals. The intention was to go and kill the game off early in the second period, but credit to Yeovil.

“It didn’t surprise me because when you’re top of the division in your respective league, you’ve got good strong characteristics and you could see that.

“They didn’t give in, they kept playing and we couldn’t quite find that final pass to set a chance up to kill the game off until the very last minute when Dalby scored a really good goal.

“I’m just pleased to get through.

“When the draw comes out before the game, everyone starts looking one eye on Shrewsbury, which I think is a great draw for us and an exciting one for the club, but the job had to be done here first and we’ve done it.”

Yeovil boss Mark Cooper could not praise his side highly enough as fine margins went against them, but was frustrated with some decisions by the officials.

He said: “I thought we were brilliant, absolutely magnificent, all of them. I thought we were bang in the game.

“The goal on half-time is a killer for us, it’s a poor header and we didn’t pick up on the edge of the box, but I thought we were brilliant, to a man.

“I thought we played lovely football, we kept the ball, we created some chances, the keeper has pulled off an unbelievable save in the top corner from Charlie Cooper in the first half.

“We’ve had chances in the second half, so it’s just tiny details. There’s a difference between the two teams and you know that when you come here, the ref’s not going to do you any favours.

“It was some really questionable bits and pieces that went against us.

“They’re a top team, let’s have that right. They’ve got a top manager, everything, and they scored at good times, but I can’t give our players enough credit.”

League Two promotion hopefuls Wrexham set up a trip to Shrewsbury in the third round of the FA Cup with a 3-0 victory against non-League Yeovil.

First-half goals from Ollie Palmer and Andy Cannon put the hosts ahead before substitute Sam Dalby’s stoppage-time strike dumped the National League South leaders out.

The hosts took an early lead when goalkeeper Joe Day saved Palmer’s initial header from Cannon’s cross, but the Wrexham striker tucked home the rebound.

James McClean’s low effort crept inches wide in the 20th minute during early Wrexham domination.

Yeovil rallied when Charlie Cooper’s fierce drive tested Mark Howard 10 minutes before half-time, before Jordan Young’s free-kick struck a post.

But Cannon grabbed Wrexham’s second in first-half stoppage time from outside the box, despite goalkeeper Day’s efforts.

Cooper’s early second-half effort flew over before Jacob Mendy’s low 65th-minute drive went wide for the home side.

McClean nearly capped off a fluid Wrexham counter-attack in the closing stages, before Dalby’s chipped finish in time added on sealed victory.

Aldershot assistant manager Richard Dryden felt his side could have beaten Stockport as they held the League Two leaders 2-2 in the FA Cup second round.

A pulsating tie at the EBB Stadium means both teams will meet again at Edgeley Park to decide who will face West Brom in the third round.

With manager Tommy Widdrington prohibited from post-game media interviews due to a touchline ban, Dryden admitted the outcome left him both pleased and drained.

He said: “We’ve had every emotion you could possibly have. We played some great stuff at times.

“We could have won it, we could have lost it, so that’s where we are. We’ve got another game in the replay.

“You can’t expect a side of the quality of Stockport to roll over and have their tummies tickled.

“They showed the quality they’ve got and their manager changed a few things and got around us a little bit. So our emotions are high and low at the moment.”

Aldershot looked to cause another shock for a League Two side after their first-round demolition of Swindon, and took a 10-thminute lead when a Josh Stokes shot deflected into the net.

Sky Bet League Two leaders Stockport hit back two minutes later when Neill Byrne made his way past the home defence from the half-way line, and delivered an excellent strike from 25 yards.

The visitors came out strongly in the second half and took the lead a minute after the restart – Paddy Madden finishing off a move involving Macauley Southam-Hales and Nick Powell.

The hosts remained in the tie though, and responded in fine style after 67 minutes when Stokes finished off a devastating counter-attack from a Lorent Tolaj pass.

Stockport were almost victorious in injury time, when a Fraser Horsfall header hit the post, but both sides must play again in a game where a tie was a fair result.

County manager Dave Challinor felt the game was a classic case of a two-halved contest, but was content that his side remain in the draw.

He said: “We were disappointed with our first half. We were fortunate to be level at the break.

“In the second half, I’m much happier with the performance as it showed that when we take care – especially in the attacking half of the pitch – we should win the game with the chances we’ve created.

“That’s not taking anything away from Aldershot, they would have felt based on their first half performance they could have had more.

“We’ve not settled for the replay, but if you asked me before the game if I would rather be in the competition or out of it, I’m obviously going to say I want to be in.”

Chesterfield assistant manager Danny Webb is delighted his side’s fans will get the chance to sample a big match atmosphere in the third round of the FA Cup against Championship outfit Watford.

The Spireites booked a trip to Vicarage Road with a 1-0 win over Leyton Orient at the SMH Group Stadium to add the O’s to the first-round scalp of fellow League One side Portsmouth.

The National League leaders always looked on top even if there was some good fortune about their winning goal which went in via the head of Orient captain Idris El Mizouni.

Webb said: “Watford away, they are obviously not Man United or Tottenham but they are a very, very big club.

“I hope we take thousands down there and genuinely enjoy the day.”

Webb was proud of the way the Chesterfield players acquitted themselves against higher-ranked opponents in Orient.

He said: “I would say to everyone that the result doesn’t lie. We were the better team from start to finish.

“It would be good if the season ended now but life isn’t that easy. It shows how much we attack the FA Cup. It shows how much it brings the ground together and how much they get behind us.”

Will Grigg had the first effort on target when his close-range back heel at a corner was held by Orient keeper Sol Brynn.

Orient full back Tom James tested Ryan Boot with a shot from outside the area before Chesterfield grabbed the lead with 38 minutes gone as a cross from Banks deflected off the top of El Mizouni’s head and over Brynn.

The Orient midfielder almost made amends after 53 minutes when his shot forced Jamie Grimes into a hacked clearance which spun back wide of his own goal.

Armando Dobra’s deflected shot fell to Brynn and James Berry shot wide as Chesterfield added Orient to the first-round scalp of League One pacesetters Portsmouth.

Orient boss Richie Wellens did not hold back in his assessment of his side’s performance.

He said: “It was a disgrace. The first six or seven minutes we were in control of the game but they ran a little bit harder, fought a little bit harder.

“Just at the moment little things are going against us. I spoke to the players at half-time and I said try and put this into perspective that it’s a freezing cold weekend and our supporters have saved up, worked overtime in the current crisis when it is coming up to Christmas and the energy bills are what they are and that first-half performance is not acceptable, nowhere near.”

Boss Richard Hill was brimming with pride after Eastleigh’s FA Cup fairytale continued with a 2-1 second-round victory over League One Reading.

The National League outfit defied a 36-place gap in the English football pyramid to reach the third round for the third time in their history.

Femi Azeez looked to have rescued the Royals a replay as his 86th-minute equaliser cancelled out Paul McCallum’s first at Silverlake.

But prolific striker McCallum was the hero as his winner deep in stoppage time – his 18th goal of the season – secured a trip to either Newport or Barnet.

“It feels fantastic,” Hill said. “There were 3,500 Eastleigh fans here today. You know I don’t get emotional, people call me dour and people tell me to smile, but that was big for this football club.

“I don’t celebrate goals, but that one at the end was special. You can’t blame me for that, I couldn’t help it.

“We were hanging on, second half, let’s make no bones about it.

“I knew we’d have to hang on. When they’re bringing on the cavalry, you know you’re in for a tough time. Our lads did great, they stood firm.

“I signed Macca here a couple of years ago in my second spell at the club. I’ve got a little bit more relaxed with him because he does what he does on match-days. On some days you have to let Macca be Macca.”

Hill continued: “I went to watch (Reading) on Tuesday (5-1 League One win over Carlisle). They made eight changes and it was helpful!

“I was glad Lewis Wing wasn’t starting and I was pleased to see Harlee Dean on the bench because he heads everything out of the box.

“I thought we had a chances against the two inexperienced centre-halves with Scott Quigley and Macca up front, and so it proved.”

The result marked the second time in three years the Royals have been dumped out by non-league opposition after their defeat to Kidderminster two seasons ago.

Boss Ruben Selles made eight changes for the cup tie and it came back to haunt him as they went crashing out.

Fans protested against owner Dai Yongge by throwing tennis balls and fake money onto the pitch in the 16th minute, symbolising the points deductions since he took charge.

Earlier this week, it emerged staff were only partially paid as the players received full wages to avoid another points deduction.

Selles said: “It’s disappointing. It’s a cup game, we went down in the first half, but we managed to get to 1-1 and create the chances and we didn’t take them.

“I wouldn’t change the team I picked. We have made changes this season. We beat Millwall, we were competitive against Ipswich, we were the most successful team in the EFL Trophy group stage. There’s no regret there.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t give the fans anything after they gave all their support.

“It is good to see they keep their faith in the team and supporting the boys. I am very grateful for that.

“I want to congratulate Eastleigh, they played their game and they were strong in the aerial duels. I wish them all the best.”

Chesterfield booked a trip to Championship Watford in the third round of the FA Cup with a 1-0 win over Leyton Orient at the SMH Group Stadium.

The National League leaders, who beat Portsmouth in the first round, claimed another League One scalp thanks to a goal seven minutes before half-time when a cross by Ollie Banks deflected off the top of Orient captain Idris El Mizouni’s head into the top corner.

Will Grigg had the first effort on target for the hosts when his close-range back heel at a corner was held by Orient keeper Sol Brynn.

Orient full-back Tom James tested Ryan Boot with a shot from outside the area as the visitors looked to grab the initiative.

It was Chesterfield who struck first when, with 38 minutes gone, a cross from Banks was deflected off the top of the head of El Mizouni and over Brynn.

The Orient midfielder almost made amends after 53 minutes when his shot forced Jamie Grimes into a hacked clearance which spun back wide of his own goal.

Armando Dobra’s deflected shot fell to Brynn and James Berry shot wide as Chesterfield added Orient to their impressive win over League One leaders Portsmouth.

National League Aldershot held League Two leaders Stockport to a 2-2 draw at the EBB Stadium to earn an Emirates FA Cup replay.

The hosts almost had the perfect start after a minute when Jack Barham forced keeper Ben Hinchliffe to save with his foot.

The Vanarama National League outfit took the lead after 10 minutes when a shot by Josh Stokes deflected off Macauley Southam-Hales and into the net.

Stockport hit back two minutes later when Neill Byrne made his way past the home defence from the half-way line, and delivered an excellent strike from 25 yards.

The Sky Bet League Two leaders came out strongly in the second half and took the lead a minute after the restart – Paddy Madden finishing off a move involving Southam-Hales and Nick Powell.

The hosts responded on 67 minutes when Stokes finished off an excellent counter-attack from a Lorent Tolaj pass.

Stockport were almost victorious in injury time, when a Fraser Horsfall header hit the post, but both sides must play again to decide who faces West Brom.

Paul McCallum was Eastleigh’s last-gasp hero as the National League side sent League One Reading packing in the second round of the FA Cup with a 2-1 win.

Femi Azeez had seemingly rescued a replay for Reading with his 86th-minute strike, which cancelled out McCallum’s first-half opener.

But the Eastleigh striker popped up deep in stoppage time to send the non-league outfit, who sit 38 places below the Royals on the pyramid, through to the third round for the third time in their history.

The home team had the better chances at the Silverlake Stadium, with McCallum poking them in front in the 21st minute when he got on the end of Scott Quigley’s cross.

McCallum had the ball in the net for a second time three minutes before half-time but the goal was ruled off as he shoved a defender out of the way to head home.

Reading goalkeeper Joel Pereira made great saves to deny Quigley and McCallum either side of the break.

Not to be outdone, Eastleigh keeper Joe McDonnell produced a fine stop to keep out Lewis Wing from close range four minutes into the second period as the Royals searched for the equaliser.

The visitors’ pressure eventually told late on when Azeez unleashed a fierce effort which flew into the back of the net.

But there was another twist to come as McCallum’s 18th goal of the campaign secured the Spitfires a third-round trip to either Newport or Barnet.

The third-round draw for the FA Cup was made on Sunday, with Premier League and Championship clubs entering the competition.

All fixtures will be played over the weekend of January 6/7 and include an all-Premier League meeting between Arsenal and Liverpool, Wear-Tyne derby clash between Sunderland and Newcastle, while reigning holders Manchester City face Huddersfield.

Here the PA news agency looks at some of the best ties to watch in the third round.

Sunderland v Newcastle

One of the biggest draws of the third round sees fierce rivals Sunderland and Newcastle go head-to-head for the first time since 2016.

The last meeting between both senior sides came in the Premier League, resulting in a 1-1 draw at St James’ Park in March 2016 and ending the Black Cats’ run of six derby victories on the trot.

Both sides have endured plenty of changes since then, with Sunderland suffering back-to-back relegations and reached the Championship play-offs last season, while since their takeover, Newcastle have challenged at the top end of the Premier League table, securing Champions League football this season.

Their first meeting in seven years will take place at the Stadium of Light.

Arsenal v Liverpool

An all-Premier League clash sees Arsenal host Liverpool at the Emirates.
Both teams are meeting for the first time in the competition since 2014, when the Gunners earned a 2-1 victory in the fifth round and went on to win the trophy that season against Hull.

Arsenal have since won the competition three times, while Liverpool were last crowned winners in 2022 after beating Chelsea on penalties.

Wigan v Manchester United

Last year’s finalists Manchester United will make the short trip to former champions Wigan.

The Latics won the competition in 2013 with a huge upset against Manchester City at Wembley as Ben Watson’s late header clinched the trophy.

The club have since fallen on hard times, suffering relegation from the Championship last season and started their League One campaign this year with an eight-point deduction due to off-pitch issues.

Wigan progressed to the third round with a 1-0 win against York on Saturday and come up against United, who have won the competition 12 times in their history but have stuttered this season under Erik Ten Hag.

Ramsgate/AFC Wimbledon v Ipswich

A tough test lies ahead for Isthmian League South East Division side Ramsgate if they can get past League Two outfit AFC Wimbledon on Monday night.

Currently the lowest-ranked side left in the competition, Ramsgate overcame National League strugglers Woking to book their spot in the second round of the competition.

The winner of Monday’s tie will face high-flying Ipswich, who are second in the Championship table having only lost two games so far this season.

Manchester City v Huddersfield

Current holders Manchester City kick off their defence against Championship strugglers Huddersfield.

In an all-Manchester final back in June, City earned a 2-1 win against rivals United through Ilkay Gundogan’s double and went on to secure the treble the following weekend.

Pep Guardiola’s side will be aiming for back-to-back FA Cup victories starting with a third-round tie against Huddersfield, who are lingering above the Championship relegation zone.

Arsenal will host Liverpool in a blockbuster third-round FA Cup tie next month.

The Premier League giants are meeting for the first time in the competition since Arsenal won a fifth-round tie 2-1 in 2014.

The Gunners have come out on top in their last three FA Cup clashes, with Liverpool’s last victory back in the final of 2001.

The other standout tie of the draw saw Championship side Sunderland paired with neighbours Newcastle, who will travel to the Stadium of Light over the weekend of January 6 and 7.

It will be a first meeting between the North East giants since they were both in the Premier League in 2015/16, while they have not played each other in the FA Cup since 1956.

There were several other all Premier League ties, with Tottenham hosting Burnley, Everton travelling to Crystal Palace and Brentford facing Wolves.

Reigning champions Manchester City were handed a home tie against Championship strugglers Huddersfield while Manchester United will make the short trip to former champions Wigan.

Maidstone would no doubt have hoped for a plum tie following their second-round win over Barrow but were handed a home date with Stevenage or Port Vale.

Non-league Ramsgate will host Ipswich if they can get past AFC Wimbledon while a trip to The Hawthorns to face West Brom awaits the winners of Aldershot and Stockport.

Ramsgate striker Joe Taylor is hoping the Kent club’s own bit of ‘Crazy Gang’ spirit can help the eighth-tier side pull off an FA Cup shock against AFC Wimbledon on Monday night.

The Isthmian League South East Division pacesetters head to Plough Lane for the televised tie eyeing another upset after winning at Vanarama National League side Woking to book their place in the second round for the first time.

It is 35 years since Wimbledon beat Liverpool’s ‘Culture Club’ to lift the FA Cup trophy at Wembley, where captain Dave Beasant saved a penalty from John Barnes, the first goalkeeper to do so in a final.

With the since-reformed south-west London club now in Sky Bet League Two, it is Ramsgate who will take up the underdogs tag on Monday night, by which time the draw for the third round will have been made.

Taylor feels Ben Smith’s “tight-knit squad” can deliver another piece of FA Cup magic.

“We are quite a small squad of senior players and then we have got a group of young lads that have come through the academy,” Taylor told the PA news agency.

“They have sort of wrapped around us very nicely. It is a really good relationship.

“Obviously all of this cup stuff helps and we are up there in the league, so when you are winning, everyone is happy – but when times haven’t been so good, the group has been really good together.

“If we can get half of that ‘Crazy Gang’ spirit, then we would stand a good chance wouldn’t we?”

With nine goals so far in the competition, Taylor is in the race for this season’s Mitre Golden Ball Award, which recognises the top scorer in the FA Cup and gives players lower down the pyramid the opportunity to compete against Premier League stars.

Despite the extra attention on the Rams, Taylor is confident they can stay focussed to deliver the required performance at Plough Lane.

“In the last couple of weeks, we have had a lot of media (interest) and stuff that we are not used to, then we have had some really important league games during that time,” he said.

“The manager sort of banned any FA Cup talk – then he brought the TV cameras into the changing room and they were following us around everywhere!

“But we have managed to win all the (league) games and then drew a tough one (at Cray Valley).

“We are sitting up there in the league and we have had all of this going on as well, so the focus has been good actually.”

Taylor added: “We are no stranger to an upset now. I think the last four teams we have played have been higher league opposition.

“We sort of suit that (underdog) tag pretty nicely and we have all bought into that.

“Let’s be frank, Wimbledon are a better side than us, they are full-time, but we know our qualities and our strengths, so we are ready to give it a go.”

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