Shortwood v Port Vale: Underdog joy not out of the question

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No non-league small fry has been able to quash the FA Cup aspirations of a League One or Two big-hitter in the first round thus far, but three tied contests must give Shortwood, the most minute of minnows, belief of earning a replay in the least at Port Vale’s expense.

The Gloucestershire-based outfit, who ply their trade under the paving stones of British football, way down in the Calor Southern League Division One South & West, are a beefy 8/1 to win at Meadowbank – which does feature floodlights, as boasted on the club website – with the draw also sizeable at 9/2.

Sitting over 120 places above Shortwood in League One, the Valiants are blatant favourites at 2/7, but there are a few factors conspiring against the value of such stingily orientated digits.

In the past 13 years, Vale have been dumped out of the finest competition in club football by two sides outcast from the Football League, with Canvey Island and, more recently, Chasetown both liberally applying large doses of egg to the Stoke side’s face.

Shortwood reached this stage by knocking Skrill Premier team Aldershot out of the tournament, raising their game to win at the home of a club placed some 60 places their superior.

In addition to this, heroic efforts from non-league trio Brackley, Gateshead and Braintree entitled them to replays with Gillingham, Oxford and Newport, respectively.

Vale won’t arrive in the best of spirits either after taking a 5-2 pounding at the hands of Swindon in their previous road game.

Worryingly for Shortwood, though, each of Micky Adams’ side’s last three defeats on the road have been rectified by victory in the game that followed.

These wins were made all the more aesthetically pleasing by the glossy clean sheet packages they were wrapped in, so those adverse to the idea of a giant-slaying here might want to stick a few quid on the away win to nil at 6/5.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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