the real fa cup

The Season So Far – Part One

We’ve come a long way since our first FA Cup game of the season. It’s been a great competition so far, 17 games and 66 goals by teams from League 1 down to the Combined Counties League. And now the big cheeses are in.

Best game so far? Probably AFC Wimbledon 3 Crawley Town 1, with AFC down to ten men and seemingly out they raised the bar, raised their game and put a shell-shocked Crawley to the sword. Notable mention also for Broxbourne Borough V&E 1 Enfield 1893 4, a game where the quality exceeded the apparent lowly status of the teams present.

Through the Christmas and New Year period, before the Cup kicks off again, we’re going to look back, briefly, round-by-round, at the games we’ve been to and see how the teams we’ve seen have fared since we saw them.

Extra Preliminary Round:

Since we visited Wembley FC on that lovely sunny summer day things have been a bit rocky for them. The cup defeat didn’t initially seem to affect them too much and they won their next 2 league games. However, after those games they lost 9 on the bounce, only halting the run with a draw at home to Sandhurst Town before then going on to lose 2 more. For most of that run the Lions’ pride have been bereft of realfacup interview star Andy Walker through injury.

Despite this tawdry run, they last week managed a jaw-dropping, and perhaps season-turning, 5-4 home victory over Raynes Park Vale that lifted them off the bottom. Despite the rank results in the league, Wembley managed 4 rounds in the FA Vase beating Wootton Blue Cross, St Margaresbury and Langford before crashing out to Hoddesdon in round 2.

Basildon United, on the other hand, currently lie 6th in the Essex Senior League. Although victorious in this round of the FA Cup, Basildon lost 3-0 away at Erith in the Preliminary Round so their cup was fairly short lived this time round. An indifferent November has cost them because they were at one point level with leaders Burnham Ramblers but have now slipped 5 points behind. Any promotion is going to be tricky as the leaders and teams around the Bees have games in hand.

Runners up in both of the last two seasons, eternal bridesmaids Enfield 1893 find themselves in familiar territory just a few points off the top. They are just above Basildon on goal difference and are currently best placed to catch the leaders. After Enfield had taken their landlords, Broxbourne, to pieces their season stagnated a little but has really picked up in recent weeks. Since they lost 5-0 to league leaders Bethnal Green in early October Enfield have won 5 drawn 2 and lost just 1 game , a run that has taken them to within a point of second place and with 2 games in hand.

Enfield have got to at least the 2nd Qualifying Round in 6 of the last 10 years but this season saw the most games they’ve played in the cup for 10 years. In the Preliminary Round they beat Crawley Green 7-0 and followed that up with 3-3 and 1-1 draws with Halstead Town in the 1st Qualifying Round before winning a penalty shoot out. In the 2nd Qualifying Round Enfield were visited by a high flying Chelmsford City side three leagues above them and got well and truly battered 0-5. They did also get to the 2nd Round of the Vase before losing, oddly, to Cambridge Regional College.

Finally, Broxbourne Borough V&E. The vanquished BBVE are doing very well this season. The Boro’ lie 4th in the Spartan South Midlands Premier five points off the promotion places but, tucked in nicely, with a game in hand. BBVE have won their last three league games racking up 9 goals but also got knocked out of the FA Vase in the 1st Round, losing to Stotfold.

It seems a long time ago that we watched these games, both were watched in warm sunshine on Saturday afternoons. Now though, as the windfall leaves start to be swept from non-league grounds, the waterlog sets it and the frost starts to bite, three of the four teams we saw in the Extra Preliminary Round are getting the decorations ready. Wembley, on the other hand, might need some charity this Christmas. Next time round, we catch up with the teams we saw in the Preliminary Round, Chertsey, Met Police, Sevenoaks and our local boys Dulwich Hamlet.

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