For just the sixth time in the club's 126 year history, Sutton United will appear in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup this weekend. Three of the five previous appearances, against Hillingdon (1970), Coventry(1989) and Wimbledon(2017) have seen U's progress further, while Middlesbrough, after a replay, (1988) and Notts County (1994) ended Sutton's hopes at this stage. Sutton will be wearing amber.
The task this weekend is a tough one away to Championship opposition, with Plymouth Argyle having stormed to the League One title last season in an epic battle with Ipswich Town, amassing 101 points to finish three points ahead of the Suffolk side. However while Ipswich are looking capable of a second successive promotion this season, Plymouth have found the going a little harder in the Championship, currently lying 18th in the table, although it is away from Home Park that they have struggled, still looking for a first away league win. At home they have won seven and drawn three, with Millwall, Southampton and Swansea the only clubs to have won at Plymouth.
Steven Schumacher, who guided Plymouth to the League One title last season, recently left to take over at Stoke City and so, like Sutton, The Pilgrims are without a permanent manager at the moment with Director of Football Neil Dewsnip, a former Liverpool junior and Everton academy coach, currently in charge. He has seen talented attacking midfielder Finn Azaz, who starred against Sutton for Newport a couple of seasons ago, leave the club this week, recalled by his parent club Aston Villa ahead of a probable move to Middlesbrough, but Sutton still face a goal threat from Ryan Hardie and Morgan Whittaker who have over twenty goals between them this season.
Plymouth's best FA Cup performance came in the 1983-84 season when they reached the semi finals before losing 1-0 to Watford at Villa Park, and it is the first ever senior meeting between the clubs, although the respective academy teams have met twice in the last nine months.
For Sutton it's a break from the battle to climb away from the League Two relegation zone. Jason Goodliffe continues in interim charge, and will again be without the suspended Harry Smith, who today was charged by the FA in connection with comments made to a match official after his dismissal at Gillingham last week (further details here). Sam Hart is also likely be sidelined by the groin injury that forced him off against Newport on Monday but otherwise U's have no new injury worries and Craig Eastmond and Hisham Kasimu could return to the squad after their injury lay-offs. As reported earlier, D'Mani Mellor has returned to Wycombe following his loan spell with Sutton.
Saturday's referee is Will Finnie, who is in his fifth season as an EFL referee and presided over Sutton's exit from the Carabao Cup at Port Vale earlier this season. To balance any omens, fourth official Scott Tallis was in charge of U's second round victory against Horsham last month.
If the scores are level after 90 minutes there will be a replay at Sutton in the week of 15 January, and the fourth round draw is on Monday evening before the televised tie between Wigan and Manchester United, with the winners of our tie on Saturday having ball
Anyone still wanting to buy a ticket has until 8.30am on Friday morning to do so, on line only by clicking here. There will be none on sale at Home Park on Saturday. Any tickets that have been ordered but not collected can be picked up from turnstiles B20-B25 in the Kawasaki Barn Park Stand at Plymouth on the day.
The Supporters' Club coach is full, and leaves the VBS at 7.30am.
Unfortunately FA regulations mean that the game cannot be live streamed. We will be providing an audio commentary on iFollow, but this is only available to anyone in possession of a valid monthly or seasonal audio pass. As in previous rounds we are not permitted to sell match passes for the audio commentary.
Supporters going by car should travel via the M5 and then the A38 to the Plymouth area. Exit at Manadon roundabout, signposted “Plymouth Argyle and Ferry Port” and A386. Take the second exit at the roundabout, following the direction of the flyover, to the left. Travel a mile on this road, and Home Park will appear on your left. The Milehouse park and ride car park is adjacent to the ground and free, but can get full quickly on match days so aim to arrive early. There are several pay and display car parks in and around the city centre. The closest of these to Home Park is on Stuart Road (PL1 5LH)
By rail Plymouth station is a 20 minute paved walk through Central Park to the ground. Exit the station and walk down Saltash Road to the roundabout at the bottom of the hill and follow the pavement around to the right to briefly join Russell Place, before turning left up onto Holdsworth Street. Walk straight up the road and continue straight on to join the path leading into the park, and follow this until you reach the stadium. A portion of this walk is quite steeply uphill so an alternative is bus route 60 from the station to Outland Road, close to the ground. An hourly train service from Paddington leaves at 03 minutes past the hour, taking just over three hours. Return direct at 18.16 or 19.50, or at 17.27 or 18.27 with a change at Bristol Parkway. Supporters using the Underground to get to Paddington should note that there is no District Line service between Wimbledon and Parsons Green on Saturday.