So another weekend, another FA Cup day is upon us and we have eight fan owned clubs marching on with Darlington and AFC Rushden and Diamonds giving their respective higher league opposition (Blyth and fan owned Hendon) a run for their money, with Prescot Cables being swept aside by FC. United.
Having had a look at the draw we can see who is in best position to pick up another £4,500 in prize money and move within two games of making the 1st Round Proper and the chance to get Sheffield United or Portsmouth out of the hat. Numbers again refer to their Step in the non-league pyramid. Off we go…
Curzon Ashton (3) vs Scarborough Athletic (4)
One league separates these sides with Curzon Ashton top of the Evo-Stik Prem having only lost one game in the league this season and top of the table. Still, Scarborough have made a great start to life in Div One North, sitting on fifteen points and right in the hunt for the playoffs at this early stage of the season. If Scarborough can grab a draw there is every chance of them putting one either Curzon Ashton in the replay but I think Curzon will have too much for Scarborough today.
Prediction: Home win.
FC United (3) vs Lancaster City (4)
Trevor Sinclair of ex England fame is part of the coaching set up at Lancaster and is hoping he might even make it onto the field against FC United who saw off Prescot in the last round. United have been struggling for consistency this season and lie five points behind Curzon with Buxton also above them, having an effective six point lead over FC United. However considering the teams they could have got out of the hat this is a great draw for FC United, being at ‘home’ against lower league opposition and FC United will be disappointed with anything less than a win today.
Prediction: Home win, Stockport away next round.
Hendon (3) vs Leiston (3)
Both these clubs are in the Ryman Prem with very little to separate these sides in the league. So a tough draw for Hendon who had to work very hard to beat a determined and fellow fan owned football club AFC Rushden and Diamonds in the last round. With Harrow Borough (their landlords) playing away Hendon get a Saturday kick off which should boost the crowd and with Hendon soon to be moving to a 3G pitch in Hendon they could do with every penny to keep them going till this transition. It will be close and could easily go either way but I think Hendon will edge it.
Prediction: Home win
Eastbourne Borough (2) v Enfield Town (3)
A horrible draw this for Enfield, bar the fact if it’s a nice day they can go to the beach. Eastbourne sit in the upper half of the Conference South with Enfield occupying their traditional position of just above the relegation zone. If Enfield can keep it tight early on they might be able to squeak out a draw but it looks like a good game to take a lot of fans down to the seaside, have a bit to drink and walk away saying “we gave them a good go”.
Prediction: Enfield to lose, Enfield Ultras to be in good voice throughout.
Winchester City (5) v Newport Isle of Wight (5)
Both these clubs will have been very pleased with this draw as both will feel they have a great chance of marching on in the FA Cup and picking up that cash. These Wessex Prem sides actually played last week with Winchester winning 3-1 but both sides will have sussed each other out and it should be close.
Abingdon United (5) v Dorchester Town (3)
I predicted Dorch to lose last time out and very ashamed of myself I am too. They got arguably the best draw imaginable with Abingdon yet to win in the Hellenic Premier and lie in the relegation zones whereas Dorch lie three points above the relegation zones (although they may lose three points when Hereford go bust) in the Southern Prem.
This is a great chance to go through and this time, instead of blowing all the money from previous FA Cup runs they may this time use it for more boring and sensible purposes, like paying off debts and investing in infrastructure.
Prediction: Dorch to lose, the ‘Same Old Few’ to drink themselves to oblivion win.
Workington (3) v Bamber Bridge (4)
It took them a replay to come through and their reward is a tough but not unwinnable game away to Woekington. Bamber have made an excellent start to this season lying second place on 17points in a league Salford City are going to run away with. Meanwhile, Workington have the same points as FC United, losing three games this season.
If there is to be a shock in our favour this looks the most likely with Bamber taking great form into this match but a draw may be more realistic. I’m going to stick my neck out here though…
Prediction: Away win for Bamber.
Witham Town (3) v Lewes (3)
An all Ryman league Prem clash this and this is one round further than I expected Lewes to make. Lewes are really struggling in the league and a moral sapping draw against bottom side VCD Athletic on Tuesday night probably hasn’t helped. Still, Witham aren’t exactly sitting the world alight so I can predict with some confidence Lewes pulling off the same trick as last round, an away draw and a home win in the replay.
So that’s your lot and I expect to see half of these teams to find their way into the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup. Although the first round proper is seen as the holy grail of with which non-league teams aspire to there are arguably as many teams in the Conference that you would rather pull out of the hat than Football League opposition. Put it this way: Would you rather draw Bristol Rovers away/ Wrexham at home or Accrington Stanley?
The fact many sizeable clubs lie in wait in the 4th Qualifying round has put great cup ties one game closer for non-league sides. Here’s hoping that some of these sides can get the two wins required to give themselves a chance of a memorable (and financially helpful) FA Cup run.