The world’s most famous club competition is well and truly under way now and the second round proper is now virtually complete. This season I have been given the honour of selecting the official team of each round, so here is the best XI of the second round.
SAM ASHTON (FC United of Manchester)
The former Bolton man earned FC United a replay with a dramatic late penalty save as League One leaders Brighton were held to a 1-1 draw at the Withdean Stadium. Ashton stopped Elliott Bennett’s spot-kick deep in stoppage time to ensure the Northern Premier Division side were in the draw for the third round, although they were brushed aside 4-0 in the replay.
CHRIS SMITH (York City)
After helping the Minstermen secure a shock victory over Rotherham in the previous round, Smith was again on hand to help City progress. The York skipper looked imperious throughout, helping his team keep a clean sheet at Darlington.
GABRIEL ZAKUANI (Peterborough)
It may not have been the glamour tie of the second round but Zakuani’s performance was integral to Posh’s progression at Bury. Lee Tomlin and Craig Mackail-Smith netted the all-important goals, although it was the former Fulham man’s all-action performance at the back that halted a comeback from the home side.
GUY BRANSTON (Torquay)
The experienced centre-back led by aplomb at the rear for League Two side Torquay, who upset visitors Walsall thanks to a 41st-minute penalty from Billy Kee.
OLLY SCHULZ (Dover)
Schulz was a key part of the resilient Dover back four that kept out League Two outfit Aldershot. The defender put in an outstanding performance at the back and almost handed the Whites the lead, only for his ninth-minute effort to be ruled offside.
NICKY PLATT (FC United of Manchester)
Having netted against Rochdale in the previous round, Platt secured his place in FC United folklore by handing the non-leaguers a shock lead against Brighton six minutes before the break.
ADAM LALLANA (Southampton)
The highly-rated academy graduate scored one goal and made two more as Saints maintained their impressive home form to book a home third-round clash with Barclays Premier League side Blackpool.
ANDY DRURY (Luton)
Drury equalised twice to earn the Conference side a second-round replay as League One promotion-hopefuls Charlton were held 2-2 at The Valley. The midfielder netted Luton’s first after seeing his penalty saved, and then scored a 25-yard curler seven minutes from time.
JOSH WALKER (Stevenage)
Having only signed on loan from Watford the previous day, Walker made himself an instant hero by setting Stevenage on the way to a 2-0 victory over AFC Wimbledon with a superb free-kick.
ADAM BIRCHALL (Dover)
The striker was once again Dover’s FA Cup hero as his 10th and 11th goals in this season’s competition secured a surprise win over Aldershot to put the Whites into the third round for the first time in their history.
MATT TUBBS (Crawley)
The man who once scored the all-important equaliser for Salisbury against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup, was once again on hand to help a non-league side earn a replay. Tubbs ensured current club Crawley would live to fight another day by levelling with the outside of his right boot against Swindon.