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One step from the Promised Land!

By Ian Townsend

It’s FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round tomorrow. Here’s our preview.

Nine of our teams will kick off at 12.30 or 3PM tomorrow, one step from the First Round Proper of the FA Cup. We know that at least one of them will be in Monday’s draw, but it could be as many as eight- but some of them have stiff challenges ahead!

We start at the Pakex, where at 1230 Potters Bar Town face their neighbours as Barnet make a rather short journey. The Bees had an excellent cup run last season, but the Scholars are in wonderful form, unbeaten since August and coming into this match on the back of three straight victories, including last weekend’s four-nil thrashing of Bognor Regis Town. The match has almost sold out, but if you can’t get there you can still watch it on the BBC iPlayer, perhaps whilst waiting for another match to kick off in a clubhouse somewhere! Barnet are tenth in the National League, but have only two points from their last nine coming into this match.

All other matches start at 3PM.

Two sides who have never got to the First Round Proper face off at the Len Salmon, as Bowers and Pitsea take on Chichester City. The visitors have already played five matches to get to this stage, and beaten two higher division opponents, so won’t be short on confidence. Bowers defeated Canvey Island in a replay to make it this far, after beating Barkingside, Brentwood Town and Lewes in the previous rounds.

Carshalton Athletic have beaten Bracknell Town Harrow Borough and Lowestoft Town to get this far, but face their toughest challenge yet as Dagenham & Redbridge head to Colston Avenue. The Daggers have had a mixed start to their National League season, and sit firmly in mid table having drawn two of their last three league matches. They lost the other one, against Notts County. The Robins are unbeaten in League and FA Cup for more than a month, but did see a much-changed side thrashed by Chertsey Town in the Surrey Cup in midweek.

Kingstonian put their much improved recent form to the test as they travel to Princes Park, home of National League South Dartford. The K’s have beaten March United, Walton Casuals and Weston Super Mare to get to this stage, and are five games unbeaten in all competitions. The Darts, who have knocked out Horsham and Blackfield & Langley to get this far, have had an uninspiring start to the season but have improved of late, winning four of their last five.

Haringey Borough, who you will recall got to the First Round last season, falling heroically to a late, late AFC Wimbledon goal on a rain-sodden Coles Park night, face former Football League opposition as they entertain Yeovil Town. The Glovers are in third place in the National League, but have lost two of their last three, and seem to either win or lose, with only one draw from seventeen league matches. Borough will need to keep a close eye on striker Rhys Murphy, who has scored in his last three- but Tom Loizou’s defence has kept seven clean sheets this season so Murphy certainly won’t have it all his own way. Borough defeated Herne Bay, Staines Town and Cray Wanderers to get to this stage.

Margate lost at Coles Park in the league last weekend, but that match apart have been pretty good lately, with five wins from their last seven matches. In the last round they travelled to Salisbury and walloped Steve Claridge’s men four-two, but their task this time will be a little more difficult as they travel to National League South Oxford City. City, however, have only one home victory all season in the League, and sit in twentieth place. That said, although they haven’t won a league match since August Bank Holiday Monday they’ve been much better in the cup, defeating North Leigh seven-nil before knocking out Hampton and Richmond Borough 2-0 in the last round.

Maldon & Tiptree, who have won every game in every competition this season, travel to face Royston Town, the winners knowing they will play host to the First Round Draw on Monday. Royston sit in thirteenth place in BetVictor Southern Premier Central, and although they don’t have a league win since 31st August have been a different side in the Cup, beating Rothwell Corinthians, Balham and Beaconsfield Town to get to this stage. The Jammers will still fancy their chances, however- and who can blame them given the form they’re in.

Finally, Whyteleafe have the chance to get to the First Round for the first time in twenty years, as Chippenham Town head to Surrey. Town are eleventh in National League South, so two levels higher than Leafe, and are in good form- undefeated in seven matches since losing one-nil to Dorking Wanderers on September 3rd. They’ve knocked Cirencester Town and Slough Town out of the competition during that period, both after replays. Leafe are in fourteenth in our South East Division, but don’t let that fool you as they’ve played only half the matches of some of their rivals. Their cup form is one of the reasons they are playing catch-up, and Cray Valley PM, Merstham, Moneyfields and Abbey Rangers have so far come up against the green hordes and departed with nothing.

We'll bring you a full round up of the action on Sunday morning. Good luck to all of our teams- hopefully we'll see them all in Monday's draw!

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