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Joe Jones

Joe Jones: Notts County must not get complacent in FA Cup tie with Oxford City

The draw for the second round of the FA Cup has given Notts a home game against Oxford City, who play in the National League North.

At first glance, it might seem like the Magpies have escaped the worst of the potential opponents, with the likes of Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers also in the hat (not to mention Scunthorpe United - part of me was thinking "we're gonna get them away aren't we?")

But in truth, a non-league outfit from two divisions below Notts County whose confidence will be sky high following a 1-0 win over another League Two side, Colchester United, in the first round will prove a tricky proposition.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about how important it was for Notts not to let complacency get to them in October, which had several "easy" fixtures on paper compared to August and September.

As it turned out, the Magpies had a mixed month due to opponents not allowing Notts to play their typical game and indeed, results were mixed.

But Kevin Nolan is the perfect manager to steer a team in this kind of fixture. Having already been stung a few times against opponents we should - on paper - have beaten, he will not only have learned his lessons in terms of gameplay, but will also ensure that any complacency will be stamped out.

Nobody will want reminding of this of course, but it cannot be shirked - Notts have not done well in recent years against non-league sides in the cup. Last year it took a replay to beat Boreham Wood, and the year before, Salford knocked us out of the competition in what I still remember as my most humiliating moment as a Notts fan.

East Anglian Daily Times reporter Carl Marston gave this assessment of Colchester's defeat to City, which shows just how difficult a proposition they could prove to be.

He wrote: "This was no smash-and-grab win from the non-league minnows. I thought Oxford City fully deserved their victory, and passage through to the second round of the FA Cup.

"They were unlucky not to score in the first half. Matt Paterson hit Sam Walker’s bar with a superb free-kick, and the same player peppered the target with a couple of shots before half-time.

"And it was Paterson who came up with a worthy winner, heading home a precision cross from Dave Pearce after just 34 seconds of the second half.

"City always looked a danger going forward. Wingers Pearce and Zac McEachran were excellent, Paterson was a constant thorn in the U’s defence up top, and Rob Sinclair supported him in a withdrawn role.

"All in all, the U’s did not do enough to earn a replay, visiting keeper Jack Stevens having very few saves to make."

So, it's absolutely crucial that Oxford City be shown the same amount of respect shown to the likes of Wigan, Blackburn and so on, and before anyone even thinks of the third round, they need to navigate this opponent first.

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I'm looking forward to them coming to Meadow Lane, I think we just have to respect them and work harder. Cup games like this is great for both teams, it gives us a realistic chance of making the third round and it shows Oxford what type of team they can face.

Whoever goes through will most likely end up facing a tougher opposition but as I say, this is a good draw.

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Notts must NOT get to thinking they only have to show up. They have to show up and be at the races too. They definitely must show this side respect. And no fringe players in the starting line up either. COYP

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We just need to play wisely, match Oxford City's work rate and treat the game like we would any other.

There's no need to belittle them, or attempt to over power 'em - if we play good football the result will come. If by chance that both teams work hard and the outcome doesn't favour us, well then well done to Oxford. It should be a great game! 

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