FA Cup First Round weekend is one of the most exciting few days on the football calendar, and it’s even more exciting this season as we’ve a number of clubs involved. We’ve also got a large number of sides in FA Trophy action- so here’s our preview of what we’ve got to come.
We’ll start in the FA Cup. The last time Carshalton Athletic got to this stage was in 1997-98, and only once in their history have they got to Round Two- but the Robins won’t be short of confidence as they host Boston United on Saturday. United currently sit in midtable in National League North, and haven’t yet found consistent form- and of course Athletic have already caught bigger fish, as they defeated National League Dagenham and Redbridge in the last round.
There are two more FA Cup ties on Sunday.
Maldon & Tiptree, for whom we’ve run out of superlatives, travel to Leyton Orient. The O’s sit in sixteenth place in their first season back in League Two following promotion, and are in patchy form, with only one point from their last nine. On paper that shouldn’t matter too much, there are four divisions between Orient and their visitors, but the way that the Jammers have played this season we absolutely shouldn’t rule out an upset. We hope that the travelling fans have a fabulous afternoon, and that they’ll be in the Second Round draw on Monday.
Kingstonian are also in action on Sunday, as they travel to face a Macclesfield side in turmoil; indeed there are reports that the match might not even happen as some of the Silkmen’s players and staff have apparently gone on strike due to unpaid wages. The last time the K’s got this far in the competition was in 2000-01, when they made it all the way to the Fourth Round before a narrow replay defeat at the hands of Bristol City, after defeating Southend United and Brentford in earlier rounds. The K’s have been in good form of late, losing only one of their last nine matches, and won’t travel to Moss Rose lacking in belief.
Chichester City, of course, got a bye- and are already anticipating the Second Round draw.
In the FA Trophy we have a number of all-Isthmian ties, so we’ll start by looking at those.
Basildon United have been in good form of late despite the loss of their manager, John Sussex, at the weekend. They killed a giant- Chesham United- in the last round, and along with their new manager Glen Kendall won’t be put off by facing another, this time in the shape of Essex rivals Hornchurch. The Urchins have won their last three matches in all competitions, so will be favourites, but you could have said the same about Chesham!
Bognor Regis Town, on a super run of form with five straight victories behind them in all competitions, host the other Rocks, East Thurrock United, at Nyewood Lane. The Sussex Rocks will be looking to avenge their defeat in the league a few weeks ago.
Haringey Borough host Canvey Island, a match which will bring back fond memories for Borough of the day they vanquished the Gulls to win promotion to the Premier Division. Haringey will look to get back to winning ways after losing their last two home matches, whilst Canvey are still searching for consistency.
We’ve an East Sussex battle between Hastings United and Whitehawk at Pilot Field- a replay of a league match from three weeks ago which the home side won by two goals to nil- and in West Sussex Worthing welcome AFC Sudbury to Woodside Road. The Mackerel men are seven games unbeaten in all competitions, whilst the Yellows have also been in good form of late, defeating Step Three Harrow Borough in the last round, and Canvey Island in their last match. This will be our featured match on Saturday.
On the Kent coast Margate host Tooting and Mitcham United, the visitors still unbeaten in the league but struggling to recapture their early season form of late. The hosts are still looking for consistency, but have proved themselves very good indeed when all cylinders manage to fire at the same time.
Potters Bar Town travel to Cinderford Town, who won an epic First Qualifying Round Replay at Merthyr Town on Tuesday night by five goals to four. Cinderford are currently fifth in BetVictor Southern South Division One, and have lost only one of their last ten matches in all competitions- but the Scholars have lost only two of their last fourteen so won’t be overawed by that record.
Enfield Town will hope they don’t fall victims of the Manager of the Month curse as they host Thatcham Town. They might not have it all their own way; Thatcham are having a fabulous Southern South Division One season; undefeated in the League and in second place in the table, they’ve already scored FORTY SEVEN goals in all competitions this season. Mind you, the Towners haven’t lost in the league since the second Saturday of the season, so shouldn’t be too worried.
Leatherhead take their great recent form on the road as they travel to Needham Market. The Marketmen are fourteenth in Southern Premier Central, and have only lost one of their last seven matches in all competitions- but the Tanners might be heartened by the fact that their hosts have been far better on their travels than at their Bloomfields home. Leatherhead have won their last six matches in all competitions.
Haywards Heath Town travel to Royston Town. The Southern Premier Central hosts have lost only one of their last six- against Maldon & Tiptree in the FA Cup- and knocked Isthmian Premier side Brightlingsea Regent out of this competition in the last round. Heath have already defeated Bracknell Town, Ramsgate and Aylesbury United in the competition, but haven’t been able to apply this consistency to their league form.
Aveley have a long, long trip, as they head to Somerset to take on Taunton Town. Fifth in the Southern Premier South, their hosts defeated Wimbourne Town in a replay to reach this stage, and should be fresh, given that match was on October 29th and they haven’t played since. They’ve lost only one of their last nine in all competitions, but the Millers have six wins from their last eight matches and knocked out Step Three Bowers & Pitsea in the last round.
Westfield host Hartley Wintney, sixteenth in the Southern Premier South and another side who have been resting for a fortnight. The visitors defeated Poole Town in the last round, but didn’t enjoy their last match against Isthmian opposition, as Chichester City knocked them out of the FA Cup.
Finally, Bedfont Sports reward for defeating Grays Athletic twice is to travel to Hitchin Town, sixteenth in Southern Premier Central. Town have won their last two league matches, but Sports have only one defeat from their last six and shouldn’t be overawed.
We also have a fairly busy league programme across all four divisions. Find out more HERE.