The Third Qualifying Round date, exciting times for the smaller teams. While the 1st Round Proper draw is the one they all want to be in, such is the state of the National League these days that a plethora of fallen league clubs can be seen in the draw for the 4th Qualifying Round. When you add the fact that many of them are not faring very well, upsets are very much on the mind.
But, first, who’s in the draw?
There were eight Level 9 sides left in the FA Cup at kick off and the grand total of none are through to Qualifying Round 4. Not yet. Six of the sides got beaten, a couple heavily, but two earned very creditable draws and find themselves in the hat on Monday morning.
The Sporting Khalsa bandwagon continues to roll as they snuck a late equaliser against Spalding. Hoddesdon Town of the Spartan League were the bigger story them after a 0-0 draw at home to Brentwood. Although both teams are away from home in their replays on Tuesday, Khalsa remain most likely to progress as they face a side only one tier above them in the pyramid while Hoddesdon are giving away two to Brentwood of the Ryman Premier League. Both managers will be hoping a kind draw at lunchtime will give their players added incentive to win through.
Of the other Level 9 sides left many had been granted harsh draws against National League opposition. But that’s the FA Cup, the earlier you start, the more likely you’re going to face a tough, tough job at some point.
The Northern League’s Whitley Bay were facing one of the toughest jobs, at home to mid-table Conference North side Chorley. Leading 1-0 at half time Bay were looking at an upset and a run in a competition that isn’t the FA Vase. Two quick Chorley goals after half brought them down to earth but they equalised before conceding a winner with 10 minutes left.
The same score was suffered by Hartley Wintney who got slightly closer to causing an upset. The Row were 2-0 down before pulling level only to concede a last minute goal to exit the tournament 3-2 away at play-off chasing National League South side Eastbourne Borough. Blackfield & Langley lost narrowly to promotion chasing Maidenhead.
Two other teams facing National League sides mightn’t remember their days with such fondness. Wessex League side Brockenhurst got beaten 5-1 at home by Wealdstone (report on the site here by Andy Lloyd Williams), the ‘Stones Scott Davies scoring one of the goals of the round from well inside his own half.
Coleshill Town fans faced a long journey home from the Fylde coast on the wrong end of a 9-0 hammering, going 3-0 down after just 12 minutes. The final underdog to fall at this hurdle was Eastbourne Town who lost 4-1 at Southern League Didcot Town. That result left Didcot (13th Southern League 1SW) as the lowest placed side definitely through to the 4th Qualifying Round.
In arguably the biggest tie of the round promotion chasing Buxton of the Northern Premier took on the might of FC United from the tier above. The Bucks led just before half time but United equalised with about ten minutes to go. Buxton were reduced to ten men when Glenn Belezika got a 2nd yellow and down to nine when Alastair Taylor went off injured with all subs used. But the Bucks held on for a replay on Wednesday.
Candidate one for game of the day was Droylesden 3-4 Gainsborough Trinity. National League North side Trinity went into a swift 3-0 lead with some tidily finished goals. Droylesden from the level below managed to creep back into the game and they snatched an 84th minute equaliser to level the game at 3-3. The momentum swung back when Matt Wilson scored an 88th minute winner and Gainsborough went through.
For goals, candidate two for game of the day was a Ryman Premier League derby at the Rookery where Staines visited East Thurrock. The away side stormed the first half an hour, going 4-0 up including a Patrick Cox brace. The Rocks pulled one back before half time and the game was then end to end. Staines got a 5th before Thurrock scored twice to give themselves a chance. Staines added a 6th in injury to complete a memorable 3-6 win for Nicky Forster’s boys.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds of the Southern League (1C) managed a minor upset against NPL’s Ashton United. Clinical in front of goal in the first half, AFC went in two up and then had to endure a barrage for the entire second half. A barrage that they repelled to run out 2-0 winners.
The only other game where a team beat an opponent from a higher tier was Bognor Regis Town’s 4-2 win at home to Oxford City. City had led twice with 74 minutes on the clock but a two minute brace by Parsons turned the game on its’ head. Jason Prior made the game safe with the 4th late on.
So, not a great day for the underdog today but a few live to fight another day. This week’s replay fixtures http://therealfacup.co.uk/fixtures/facup/ and don’t forget the draw should be up on the FA’s website around about midday today (Monday 12th October).