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United begin road to recovery at Aldershot

It would be harder to imagine a greater contrast between two grounds than Old Trafford and Aldershot's basic home which only has stands on three sides and usually attracts crowds of around 2,000 for the Hampshire club's matches in League Two.

However, the visit of the champions means the capacity has been increased to a sellout 7,300 for Tuesday's game for which United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is likely to name a much-changed side from the one that crashed so spectacularly to City.

While Sunday's game ended with United suffering their worst defeat in decades, Aldershot, coached by the former Wimbledon and Bolton Wanderers striker Dean Holdsworth and the lowest ranked club left in the competition, are in relatively good spirits.

Their 5-2 win at Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday was their best since they returned to the Football League in 2008 and whatever the outcome they will no doubt relish their first appearance in the last 16 of the competition.

Holdsworth, a winner against United in his playing days, told reporters at his pre-match news conference: "Having Manchester United here is a privilege and an honour, and the important thing for us is that the players go out there full of confidence and are not overawed by the occasion."

Aldershot have knocked out three clubs from higher divisions than themselves, West Ham United, Carlisle United and Rochdale, and Holdsworth added: "Its important that once the match starts, we play with no fear. It's a huge challenge but we are looking forward to it."

It will not be their first match against United though, as they also played them in the League Cup in September 1970 when, before the days of squad rotation, a crowd of 18,000 at the Recreation Ground saw George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law all turn out for United.

They won 3-1 against the Shots, then, as now, in the fourth division.


Aldershot's then player-manager Jimmy Melia - who scored the opening goal to give Aldershot the lead - said somewhat eerily after the game bearing in mind Sunday's outcome: "If George Best had been playing for Aldershot we would have won 6-1."

Since then the fortunes of the two clubs could hardly have been more different with United now having won a record 19 league titles, and Aldershot happy to be in existence again after being disbanded and losing their Football League place in 1992.

They re-formed and fought their way back through the minor leagues to reclaim their League status in 2008.

Manchester City are back in action as well this week, travelling to play Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday in a re-match of the 1974 final which Wolves won, one of the five all-Premier League ties in the round.

Arsenal, last season's beaten finalists are at home to Bolton Wanderers who they beat 3-0 at Emirates Stadium a month ago, while the Premier League's bottom club Blackburn Rovers meet Newcastle United who beat Rovers 1-0 last month.