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Jon Riley 9th Jan 2011 - 11:49

Can the Rams avoid a giant-killing?

Crawley v Derby | Monday 10th January | Live on ESPN

The final tie of the FA Cup third round weekend takes place at the Broadfield Stadium where non-league Crawley Town take on Derby County of the Football league Championship.

At the start of the weekend, the Blue Square Bet Premier club was 61 places lower than Derby in the pecking order. That counts for little in the FA Cup as Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough will testify after their humbling at the hands of lower league teams.

All the ingredients for a cup shock are right there. The so called giants have been in poor form recently, winning only one of their last seven. They travel down to West Sussex on a bitterly cold January night to face a Crawley side that are flying in the Blue Square Premier. In front of a capacity crowd Crawley will be going all out to defeat Derby just as they did to Swindon in round two.

The home side can be backed at 21/10 to turn over Derby and at 12/5 to earn a draw to take the tie to a replay. The Championship side are 5/4 to avoid a giant-killing and win the match there and then.

Crawley's cup run to this point has seen them take in four matches with their three victories actually coming away from home. It's a rare occasion that Crawley, nicknamed the Manchester City of the Conference for their ability to splash the cash freely, will be the underdog but they relished it against Swindon and will do so once again I feel.

The hero against Swindon was striker was midfielder Ben Smith. His extra time volley was enough to see off Swindon and was his second goal of the game. The former Arsenal trainee is 12/1 to open the scoring and 520s to bag two or more.

The conference top scorer Matt Tubbs is likely to start upfront for Town and could be their greatest hope of breaching the Derby defence. Tubbs is 5/1 to break the deadlock and 5/4 to score anytime.

One to look out for is Crawley's defender Kyle McFadzean. The Sheffield born star can be deadly from set pieces, strong in the air and will be a threat going forward as well as defensively sound. A cheeky bet on McFadzean to open the scoring pays out at 33/1.

Tomasz Cywka is expected to be restored to Derby's starting line-up while both Stephen Pearson and Gareth Roberts are doubts for the Rams.

Kris Commons has been in excellent form this season and is priced at 5/1 to score the opening goal. The Scottish international is the creative hub for Derby and when he plays well usually so does the team. Crawley will have to clamp down on Commons early on to stop the former Nottingham Forest star from finding his rhythm.

The Rams' 2-1 victory at Preston in their last away game ended a run of four consecutive away league defeats. Chris Porter found the net at Deepdale and can be backed at 5/1 to notch the opener here.

My recommendation for this one is for the hosts to push Derby all the way and to snatch a draw. The 1-1 result is a decent shout and is priced at 13/2.



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