When Non-League Clubs Crash the FA Cup Party

One of the first facts about the FA Cup you ever learn when first diving into its history, well one of the first facts that you ever learn about English Football per se, is that Tottenham Hotspur are the only club to win the famous trophy as a Non-League club.

This is a true fact, and in all likelihood will never be repeated, but without diminishing that achievement, it did actually happen in an era when the dividing line between top League clubs and Non-League was considerably thinner than it is now.

At the turn of the 20th Century, and in 1901 in particular when Tottenham achieved their famous win, there were only two League divisions and just 36 League clubs, the majority of which were based in the Midlands and the North, where professional football had its roots. In fact Arsenal, then known as Woolwich Arsenal, were the only club based south of the West Midlands competing in League football.

All other southern based clubs at that time, historians now class as ‘Non-League’, and the better quality Southern clubs competed in the Southern League, a league considered to be on a par standard-wise with the top League Division One. So much so, in fact, that many Southern League clubs were exempted from the Qualifying Stages of the FA Cup, whilst several League clubs had to participate in those rounds. As a consequence, non-league Southern League clubs regularly appeared in FA Cup Quarter Finals, Semi-Finals and the Final itself, with Southampton twice being runners-up in the seasons either side of Tottenham lifting the trophy.

The Southern League was eventually amalgamated into the Football League in 1920 forming en masse as the Third Division. A year later a Northern Division Three was added to create the four leagues we are so familiar with in current times, albeit with an adjustment in 1958 when the regional nature of two separate Division Threes was replaced with a straightforward merit based Divisions One through to Four.

However, soon after the amalgamation of the Southern League into the Football League it became clear that the FA Cup structure needed to be amended to reflect the increase in what were regarded as League clubs, and in 1925 this new format was introduced, a format that has more-or-less remained the same ever since.

Ostensibly, clubs in the top two League Divisions were exempted until what was called the Third Round Proper, whilst all Division Three clubs were exempted until the First Round Proper. All Non-League clubs would have to qualify for the ‘Proper’ Rounds, although in the inaugural years of this new structure there were a few exceptions such as the FA Amateur Cup finalists being exempted until the First Round and, in recognition of their contribution to the development of football in England and across the world, Amateur club Corinthians were exempted until the Third Round.

These non-league exemptions were soon phased out and a final change to the structure was implemented in 1951 reflecting exactly how the FA Cup is structure now in the 21st Century. Eighty clubs compete in the First Round Proper made up of 48 lower league clubs and 32 non-league clubs. That number of 32 non-league clubs is the same regardless of how many non-league clubs participate in any one FA Cup season, and explains why it is so much harder nowadays for non-league clubs to be successful in the competition than it was in the days when Tottenham Hotspur were triumphant. But some plucky non-league clubs do occasionally gate-crash the FA Cup party.

In that first season of the current FA Cup structure, in 1925/26, three other non-league clubs battled their way to join Corinthians in the Third Round. Midland League side Boston (a forerunner to the current Boston United) started their Cup run in the 4th Qualifying Round with a 2-1 victory over Grassmoor from the Derbyshire Senior League playing in their 5th FA Cup match of the campaign. Boston were defeated 8-1 by First Division Sunderland in the Third Round. Northern Alliance club Chilton Colliery Welfare also began their run in the 4th Qualifying Round beating Tyneside League club Usworth Colliery 3-0 who had started their campaign in the 1st Qualifying Round. Chilton Colliery Welfare lost 3-0 themselves to South Shields from Football League Division Two in the Third Round. As the 1925 FA Amateur Cup winners, Isthmian League club Clapton were exempted until the 1st Round Proper where they won 3-1 at home to Division Three South side Norwich City before eventually narrowly losing 3-2 to Swindon Town from the same Division in the Third Round played at Upton Park.

Corinthians held First Division strugglers Manchester City to a 3-3 draw before succumbing to a 4-0 defeat at Maine Road in the replay. However, the amateurs became the first Non-League club to appear in the Fourth Round in the very next season. They had a comfortable 4-0 Third Round win at Walsall from Division Three North before losing 3-1 at home to First Division Newcastle United in the Fourth Round. They achieved the feat again two seasons later in the 1928/29 season (losing 3-0 at First Division West Ham United), but this time they were joined by another Non-League club who had had to qualify for the Proper Rounds.

Mansfield Town were competing in the Midland League and began their FA Cup campaign that year with a Fourth Qualifying Round 2-2 draw at Barnsley Association League outfit Ardsley Athletic who had begun their own campaign in the Preliminary Round. The Stags won the replay 2-0 before going on to win 4-2 at fellow Midland League side Shirebrook in the First Round Proper, to triumph 2-1 at Division Three North side Barrow in the Second Round and 1-0 at Division Two club Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Third. Mansfield thus became the first Non-League club to qualify for the Proper Rounds of the FA Cup and make it as far as the Fourth Round where they went down 2-0 to First Division Arsenal.

The next club to qualify for the Proper Rounds and make it all the way to the Fourth Round was North Eastern League Division One side Workington five years later in 1933/34 season. Like Mansfield before them, the Reds began their campaign in the Fourth and last Qualifying Round meaning they only had to win one match to make the Proper Rounds. This they did by defeating Cheshire County League side Manchester North End 6-3 in a replay after the two sides had played out a 3-3 draw in the first match. Workington then defeated three Division Three sides, Southport, Newport County and Gateshead, before eventually losing 2-1 at home to Second Division Preston North End in the Fourth Round.

The next Non-League club to make the Fourth Round had a more remarkable journey to get there, and set all sorts of FA Cup records in doing so. In 1938 Essex based amateur club Chelmsford folded after 60 years of existence. The football club gap in the town was filled by the formation of an aspiring to be professional club, Chelmsford City, who were admitted to the Southern League for the 1938-39 season (the amateur club had been playing in the lower Essex County League). Because of their late formation, Chelmsford City had to begin their FA Cup campaign in the Preliminary Round (other Southern League clubs began theirs in the 4th Qualifying Round or even the First Round Proper).

Chelmsford were drawn away at Athenian League club Barking whom they beat 2-1, the first of eight FA Cup victories in the same season. They beat London league Division One side Ford Sports (Dagenham) 6-2 in the First Qualifying Round, Eastern Counties League side Crittall Athletic (now Braintree Town) 4-2 in the Second Qualifying Round, the second of four incarnations of Romford (playing in the Athenian League) 3-1 in the Third Qualifying Round, and Isthmian League side Dulwich Hamlet 5-1 in the Fourth Qualifying Round. The First Round Proper saw a 4-0 home win over Birmingham and District League outfit Kidderminster Harriers, followed up by a 3-1 victory over their first League opposition, in the shape of Darlington from Division Three North, in the Second Round. Their eighth FA Cup victory of the season was a 4-1 Third Round defeat of Second Division Southampton, and the run only came to a shuddering halt with a 6-0 Fourth Round defeat to First Division Birmingham (City).

Nine FA Cup ties is the joint equal highest number of ties any club has ever played in one season of the FA Cup, and the Fourth Round is the furthest any club has ever reached in their first season since the current structure was put in place. A truly remarkable run which the club has never replicated in 72 further campaigns so far.

Another Essex based club who entered the FA Cup for the first time in the same season that Chelmsford City did, not only became the first Non-League club to reach the Fifth Round of the competition, but also became the first Non-League club to knock out a top flight opponent. Like Chelmsford City, Colchester United were formed following a former club in the town folding, in their case Colchester Town. In another connection, Colchester United began their record breaking 1947-48 campaign with a 3-1 Fourth Qualifying Round victory over fellow Southern League side Chelmsford City.

Colchester the defeated Banbury Spencer (now United) from the Birmingham Combination 2-1 in the First Round Proper before defeating Third Division North Wrexham 1-0 in the Second Round. Colchester were the only Non-League club to reach the Third Round this year and nobody would have expected there to be any in the Fourth Round as they were drawn to face First Division Huddersfield Town. However, Colchester won the match 1-0 to become the first Non-League club to knock out top flight opposition since the current structure was put in place. This terrific win was followed up by a tight 3-2 home win over Second Division Bradford (Park Avenue) in the Fourth Round to make further history for the club as the first Non-League side in the Fifth Round. Division One side Blackpool proved a hurdle too far and they lost 5-0 to the club that would eventually finish as runners-up in this year’s competition.

Just one season later history repeated itself as Southern League side Yeovil Town became the second Non-League club to reach the Fifth Round, the second Non-League club to knock out top flight opposition and the only Non-League club to make the Third Round. Yeovil’s FA Cup exploits, however, are far better documented than Colchester United due to who they beat in 1949 and their record number of victories over League clubs whilst a Non-League outfit.

Yeovil began their campaign with a tight 3-2 Fourth Qualifying Round victory over fellow Southern League side Lovell’s Athletic. The Glovers then defeated Romford (now playing in the Isthmian League) 4-0 in the First Round Proper and Western League Division One side Weymouth by the same scoreline in the Second Round. As the sole Non-League representatives in the Third Round they were drawn at home to Second Division Bury, but Yeovil had a secret weapon, their famous sloping pitch. The Shakers were defeated 3-1 and next up in the Fourth Round was the mighty Sunderland, who’d only ever known First Division football up till then. The clubs had agreed to play extra time if necessary given the distance between the two clubs, a decision that Sunderland would rue, as Yeovil won the match 2-1 in extra time amidst foggy conditions to knock out their illustrious visitors in what many regard as the greatest FA Cup shock of all time. No such fortune for Yeovil in Round Five as they were drawn away to Cup holders Manchester United and were on the wrong end of an 8-0 defeat.

Two years later, the current FA Cup structure came into being making it more difficult for Non-League clubs to make the Fourth Round, never mind the Fifth Round. Some did make the Fourth Round, of course, famously Walthamstow Avenue in 1953 (knocked out by Manchester United, but not until they had held them to a 1-1 draw), New Brighton in 1957 (having begun in the Preliminary Round the club weren’t knocked out until nine rounds later 9-0 by Burnley), Worcester City in 1959 (after having beaten Liverpool in the Third Round) and Hereford United in 1972, Ronnie Radford and all that, But it wasn’t until 1978 that a third Non-League club made it as far as the Fifth Round.

A First Qualifying Round 3-0 victory over fellow Northern League side Shildon was the start of an amazing journey for Blyth Spartans, the lowest level side ever to make it to the Fifth Round. Another Northern League side, Crook Town, were defeated 3-0 in the Second Qualifying Round, but not until after the two sides had drawn 1-1 in their first game. And a third was despatched in the Third Qualifying Round as the Spartans won 4-1 at Consett. Spartans were drawn away to a fourth Northern League club in the Fourth Qualifying Round this time winning 1-0 at Bishop Auckland.

A home draw at last in the First Round Proper resulted in a 1-0 victory over Burscough from the Cheshire County League, and this was followed up by a similar 1-0 win at home to Division Three side Chesterfield in the Second Round. A third 1-0 home win was achieved in the Third Round this time over Isthmian League Premier Division side Enfield, but it was the Fourth Round victory that made the footballing world take notice. Twice postponed at late notice, Blyth Spartans finally got to face Second Division Stoke City at their Victoria Ground, and in awful conditions, and having fallen behind in the second half, Blyth Spartans eventually won 3-2 and became TV stars overnight. After eight wins, Blyth actually went one further than the other Non-League clubs that had made the Fifth Round, by taking their opponents, Third Division Wrexham, to a replay before finally succumbing 2-1 in the second game.

Telford United were the next Non-League club to reach the Fifth Round, but by the 1984-85 season the Non-League scene had changed enormously since Blyth Spartans’ endeavours. The Non-League pyramid was put in place the following season after Blyth’s FA Cup exploits with the creation of the Alliance Premier League and a formal feeder structure below that, and many clubs competing in the Alliance Premier could easily have held their own in the Fourth Division. Telford United were members of this top level Non-League Division when they achieved their greatest FA Cup run.

Having fallen just one round short of achieving the feat of making the Fifth Round in the previous season, the Bucks were actually exempted to the First Round Proper in the 1984-85 season. There they defeated Division Three side Lincoln City 2-1 after a 1-1 draw, followed by a 4-1 win at Preston North End, also from the Third Division, in the Second Round. Another Third Division side was put to the sword in the Third Rou d as Bradford City were beaten 2-1 at home, and then Darlington from Division Four became a record fourth League club to be beaten by the same Non-League club in the same season as Telford won 3-0 after a 1-1 draw. The run only ended with a 3-0 defeat at eventual Finalists and soon-to-be League Champions Everton in the Fifth Round.

The difference in standard between the higher Non-League clubs and the lower League clubs was becoming more negligible as time went on, and more and more Non-League clubs were making it to the Third Round. However, it was to be almost 10 years before Kidderminster Harriers replicated the feat of those other four Non-League clubs as they made their way to the Fifth Round in 1993-94. Members of what was now being called the Vauxhall Conference, the Harriers started their campaign off with a 4-1 Fourth Qualifying Round victory at Isthmian League Premier Division side Chesham United. Fellow Conference side Kettering Town were defeated 3-0 in the First Round Proper and another, Woking, beaten 1-0 at home in the Second Round. The Third Round saw a famous 2-1 victory at local First Division (second tier) side Birmingham City, with Third Division (fourth tier) Preston North End defeated 1-0 in the Fourth Round. Premier League opposition in the shape of West Ham United came to Kidderminster in the Fifth Round, but the Harriers narrowly lost the tie 1-0.

Despite the lack of perceived difference in quality between Non-League and lower League clubs, it would be another 17 years before another Non-League club appeared in the Fifth Round. By 2010-11 season the Conference had expanded and Crawley Town were members of its Premier Division and heading for Football League status. The Fourth Qualifying Round saw a 1-0 victory at fellow Conference Premier League side, the re-formed Newport County. This was followed up by a convincing 5-0 win at Conference North club Guiseley in the First Round Proper. The Second Round saw League One (third tier) side Swindon Town defeated 3-2 after extra time in the replay at the County Ground. Crawley then defeated Championship side Derby County 2-1 in the Third Round before winning 1-0 at League Two (fourth tier) side Torquay United in the Fourth Round. Then came a trip to soon-to-be-crowned Premier League champions Manchester United where the lower level Red Devils were narrowly defeated 1-0 by their more illustrious fellow Red Devils.

The final club so far to make the Fifth Round as a Non-League side is actually a former FA Cup finalist and League Cup winners. In 1959 Luton Town lost 2-1 to Nottingham Forest in that season’s FA Cup Final, but by 2012-13 season the Hatters were plying their trade in what was now known as the National League and started their campaign by beating another former League club Cambridge United 2-0 in the Fourth Qualifying Round. They beat fellow National League side Nuneaton Town by the same 2-0 scoreline in the First Round Proper before seeing off Conference South outfit Dorchester Town 2-1 in the Second Round. The Third Round saw the Hatters win 1-0 at home to Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers, but even better was to come in the Fourth Round. There they were drawn away at Premier League club Norwich City where Luton Town by winning 1-0 again became the last Non-League club to knock out a top flight club by beating them on their opponent’s ground. The journey ended for Luton, as it had for six previous Non-League clubs, with defeat in the Fifth Round, losing 3-0 at home to Championship side Millwall.

This season sees National League sides Sutton United and Lincoln City competing in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup. Will either of those two Non-League clubs join this elusive club, or do we even dare to dream they could go even further. For now, Championship sides Leeds United and Brighton & Hove Albion stand in their way, but with both Non-League sides at home there’s always hope.

FA Cup 2016/17 3rd Round Review

FA Cup Still has Magic

There is still magic to be found in the FA Cup as National League sides Sutton United and Lincoln City overcame EFL 1 and Championship clubs AFC Wimbledon and Ipswich Town respectively in their 3rd Rd replays. Sutton United will now at least equal their best ever FA Cup run and get the opportunity to avenge a 6-0 defeat at the hands of Leeds United in 1970 when the difference in standard between the two clubs was much greater then than it is today (Leeds were reigning League Champions). The reward for Lincoln City is their first 4th Round tie for 41 years where they will host Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion. A win for the Imps would put them into the 5th Rd for the first time in 130 years.

Another Cup upset was also caused by EFL 2 side Blackpool who won 2-1 at EFL Championship side Barnsley after extra time.

 

Stat of the 3rd Round

All of the Premier League clubs who lost to lower league opposition already had a poorer head-to-head record against their respective opponents in the FA Cup. Millwall had beaten AFC Bournemouth in their only previous encounter, Derby County had won five of their previous seven meetings with West Bromwich Albion, and Wolverhampton Wanderers had won six of their previous seven encounters with Stoke City, including an initial meeting that Wolves won 8-0, still the record FA Cup defeat for Stoke City.

The 3-0 win by Millwall over AFC Bournemouth is the biggest margin of victory by a club at least two levels below a top flight opponent since the Premier League came into being. However, it is not the biggest ever margin of victory as many pundits will have quoted. That belongs to Southampton who, whilst members of the Southern League in 1905/06 season, won 6-1 against Division One opponents Middlesbrough.

The only other upset of sorts saw EFL One side Oxford United win 3-2 at EFL Championship strugglers Rotherham United to make the FA Cup 4th Rd for the second successive season.

Arsenal maintained their current record of consecutive successes in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup after their late 2-1 comeback win over. It is now 21 years since they were defeated in the 3rd Round, the longest ever winning streak at this stage of the competition, although Chelsea are not too far behind on a similar 19 year unbeaten run. Manchester United would hold the record, but their 24 consecutive 4th Round appearances was interrupted by a non-participation in the competition in the 1999/2000 season.

The 2-1 victory for Accrington Stanley over their EFL Two opponents Luton Town means that the club will at least equal their best ever FA Cup run. Even the original Accrington Stanley only ever made it as far as the 4th Round, so the current squad have the opportunity of making FA Cup history for the town.

None of the five Non-league clubs in this year’s 3rd Round were able to win at the first attempt, although both Lincoln City and Sutton United from the National League have another opportunity to make the 4th Round. Northern Premier League Premier Division side Stourbridge matched their EFL Two opponents Wycombe Wanderers falling to a late goal after having previously levelled the score. The club, the players, the fans, the management and the volunteers can all be really proud of setting a new record for FA Cup round reached.

The other two National League sides in the 3rd Round, Barrow and Eastleigh, both exited the competition at the hands of EFL opposition, but both clubs have equalled their best ever FA Cup run this season. It’s the 3rd successive season the Spitfires have set or equalled their FA Cup personal best, whilst the Bluebirds have extended their (probably) unwanted record of 3rd Rd exits without ever making the 4th Round. This year was the 12th time Barrow have fallen at this hurdle.

Also exiting at the 3rd Rd stage are Queen’s Park Rangers, although this is a common occurrence for the South London club who have only managed to go beyond this round three times this century. QPR now sit just one 3rd Rd exit behind the record 49 held by Plymouth Argyle, who had a fantastic result drawing 0-0 at Liverpool, to give themselves another chance to not add to this tally.

The FACupFactfile Team Awards (FACTA) 2016/17 Winners

The second annual FACupFactfile Team Awards (FACTA) winners have been announced. These awards were set up to recognise the positive contribution Non-League clubs make to the world’s greatest football knock-out competition; The FA Cup.

The FACTA nominees are proposed by and voted on by fans of Non-League football and the FA Cup. Almost 5,000 votes were cast across the five FACTA categories of Special Team Award, Surprise of the Cup, Performance of the Cup, Team of the Cup and, introduced this year, Friend of Non-League. That’s a threefold vote increase on last year, so I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who got involved, who nominated and voted, and who encouraged others to get involved, too.

Votes were cast via comments left on the FACupFactfile Blog site, by Tweets naming team and the award, and via five repeated Twitter polls.

And the five FACTA 2016/17 winners are:

Friend of Non-League FACTA goes to ….. OXFORD UNITED 2016-17-friend-of-non-league-page-001

Share of votes for Friend of Non-League FACTA were as follows:

37.8% Blackpool Fans

62.2% Oxford United

Congratulations to Oxford United, a terrific gesture to recognise that the perceived value of their share of the FA Cup gate receipts was worth far more to their Non-League hosts than to themselves.

  

Special Team Award FACTA goes to … LINCOLN CITY 

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Share of votes for Special Team Award FACTA were as follows:

23.2% Ashton Athletic

6.0% Eastleigh

39.8% Lincoln City

31.0% Westfields

Congratulations to everyone involved with Lincoln City, in what was a close run contest. The Imps are taking almost 5,000 fans to Portman Road for their 3rd Round clash with EFL Championship club, Ipswich Town.

  

Surprise of the Cup FACTA goes to … WESTFIELDS

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Share of votes for Surprise of the Cup FACTA were as follows:

12.1% Hadley

6.9% Potters Bar Town

25.2% Taunton Town

55.8% Westfields

Congratulations to everyone involved with Westfields FC on what was a very memorable, exciting and historic FA Cup run, resulting in a well-deserved clear-cut victory in this FACTA category.

  

Performance of the Cup FACTA goes to … BARROW

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Share of votes in the Performance of the Cup FACTA were as follows:

38.6% Barrow

14.2% Lincoln City

3.3% Plymouth Parkway

7.0% Stamford

33.1% Stourbridge

1.1% Sutton United

2.7% Yaxley

Congratulations to everyone involved with Barrow FC for this FACTA category win. This award garnered the most votes of all of the awards and reflects the appeal and delight of Non-League clubs who produce outstanding FA Cup performances.

  

Team of the Cup FACTA goes to … STOURBRIDGE

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Share of votes in Team of the Cup FACTA were as follows:

6.0% Beaconsfield SYCOB

6.6% Curzon Ashton

48.9% Stourbridge

3.3% Sutton United

11.4% Taunton Town

23.7% Westfields

A deserved clear-cut victory for Stourbridge, as the Northern Premier League Premier Division Club shine once again in the FA Cup, with this season being the fourth time in six years the Glassboys have made it as far as at least the 2nd Round, all the while as a Step 7 club. Congratulations to everyone involved with the club.

Once again, ‘thank you’ to everyone who took the time to vote in this year’s FACTAs, congratulations to all five winners, commiserations to all the other nominees who had achieved so much, and well done to all Non-League clubs who make the FA Cup the fantastic, unique and special competition that it is. And with five Non-League clubs still standing in Round Three, it isn’t over yet.

Here’s to another wonderful FA Cup competition beginning in August 2017.

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FA Cup 2016-17 3rd Round Tie-by-Tie Preview

Please seek permission if you’d like to use any of the content contained in this blog.

All content copyright ©@FACupFactile

 

Overview

Five Non-League clubs have fought their way through to the 3rd Round; Barrow, Eastleigh, Lincoln City, Stourbridge and Sutton United. This total has only been bettered twice in FA Cup history since the format of top two divisions being exempted until the 3rd Round was put in place in 1925.

The lowest ranked team still in this year’s competition is Northern Premier League Premier side Stourbridge, playing at level seven in the football pyramid, who are only the sixth level seven club to make the 3rd Round since the introduction of National League North and South divisions. Only two NPL clubs have ever won 3rd Round matches in FA Cup history; Stafford Rangers (1975) and Northwich Victoria (1977).

Stourbridge are also making their first ever appearance in the FA Cup 3rd Round. Three other clubs are just one win away from setting a new personal best of reaching the 4th Round: Barrow, Eastleigh and Fleetwood Town. (AFC Wimbledon have also not gone beyond the 3rd Round since formation in 2002). Barrow actually hold the record for most 3rd Round appearances without ever progressing any further. This season is their 12th attempt to make the 4th Round.

Twenty of the 32 ties involve clubs who’ve met each other in the FA Cup before. The most common tie of the round is Tottenham Hotspur versus Aston Villa who have been drawn together in the FA Cup for the 11th time. Tottenham are currently six wins to four up. Reading and Manchester United are meeting for the 9th time in the FA Cup. Manchester United are Reading’s most common opponent in the competition, but Reading has only won one of the previous eight meetings.

Just nine of the 32 ties pit sides together who will also face each other in League matches this season. This includes one all EFL Two clash between Accrington Stanley and Luton Town. The biggest League gap between two sides in this year’s 3rd Round is three, which occurs four times, with the higher league club at home in all four matches:

Premier League Liverpool host EFL Two side Plymouth Argyle with the visitors looking to prevent adding to their record 49 FA Cup 3rd Round exits. National League side Lincoln City visit Championship club Ipswich Town in the knowledge that their hosts have not won an FA Cup match for seven seasons. Another Championship club Brentford host National League side Eastleigh with the visitors looking to make the 4th Round for the first time ever. And EFL Two side Wycombe Wanderers host Stourbridge. Bizarrely both clubs are in their 112th FA Cup campaign and the Chairboys have only won one more 3rd Round tie than the Glassboys over those seasons.

Seven FA Cup 3rd Round ties have former winners facing each other, but there are no ‘repeat’ Cup Finals in any of the 32 ties. Amongst this group of former winners are Nottingham Forest and Wigan Athletic who are facing each other in the FA Cup for the very first time.

 

 Tie-by-Tie Previews

 

  1. Ipswich Town (EFL Championship) v Lincoln City (National League)

Level 2 v Level 5

First FA Cup meeting between the two clubs.

1978 FA Cup winners Ipswich Town haven’t won an FA Cup match since beating Blackpool 2-1 in 2009-10. Lincoln City last made the 3rd Round in the same season and haven’t gone further in the competition for 41 years.

 

  1. Barrow (National League) v Rochdale (EFL One)

Level 5 v Level 3

Four previous FA Cup meeting between the two clubs, all four won by Barrow. The Bluebirds even have an additional FA Cup win against the original Rochdale club.

Barrow are appearing in the 3rd Round for the 12th time. In all 11 previous appearances the club has failed to progress, in fact they hold the record for the most Round Three appearances without ever making the 4th Round. Historically, Rochdale has an appalling FA Cup record (most 1st Round exits), but in recent times have made the 4th Round twice in the last three years.

So Rochdale have never beaten Barrow in the FA Cup, and Barrow have never gone beyond the 3rd Round. Something’s got to give!

 

  1. Manchester United (Premier League) v Reading (EFL Championship)

Level 1 v Level 2

Eight previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, unsurprisingly dominated by Manchester United who have triumphed on seven of the occasions. Reading haven’t faced any other club in the FA Cup as often as they will have met Manchester United.

Manchester United are the current FA Cup holders and are the second most successful club in FA Cup history matching Arsenal for Cup wins, Cup final appearances and Semi-Final appearances, only separated by having one fewer Quarter Final appearance. Over the last seven seasons, Reading have had one of the best FA Cup records with two Quarter Finals and one Semi-Finals appearance.

 

  1. Hull City (Premier League) v Swansea City (Premier League)

Level 1 v Level 1

One previous FA Cup meeting between the two clubs, a 1-0 4th Round victory for Hull City 30 years ago when Hull were in Division Two and Swansea were in Division Four.

Hull City were FA Cup finalists just three years ago whilst Swansea have only made it as far as the Semi-Finals achieved twice when still known as Swansea Town.

 

  1. Sunderland (Premier League) v Burnley (Premier League)

Level 1 v Level 1

Eight previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, with Sunderland winning through on five occasions and Burnley triumphing three times. The clubs first met in the FA Cup 120 years ago and this is the first time they have faced each other this Century.

Two times FA Cup winners Sunderland have made two Quarter Final appearances in the last five years. Burnley won the FA Cup in 1914, but in contrast to their opponents have only won one FA Cup match in the last five years.

 

  1. Queens Park Rangers (EFL Championship) v Blackburn Rovers (EFL Championship)

Level 2 v Level 2

Two previous FA Cup meeting between the two clubs, both won by Blackburn Rovers without conceding a goal. The clubs’ previous meetings occurred 10 years and five years ago.

Six times FA Cup winners Blackburn Rovers have also made the Quarter Finals twice in the last three years. It takes three wins for a Championship side to make it as far as the Quarter Finals. Queens Park Rangers have only managed to win three FA Cup ties this Century!

 

  1. Millwall (EFL One) v AFC Bournemouth (Premier League)

Level 3 v Level 1

One previous FA Cup meeting between the two clubs, a 2-1 win to Millwall in a 2nd Round tie nine years ago when both clubs competed in Division One.

Millwall last went beyond the 3rd Round four years ago went they went all the way to the Semi-Finals. AFC Bournemouth are the only Premier League club never to have made it as far as the Semi-Finals, with just one Quarter Final appearance to their name 60 years ago when still known as Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic.

 

  1. West Ham United (Premier League) v Manchester City (Premier League)

Level 1 v Level 1

Three previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, all within the last 20 years, with The Hammers two to one up in terms of victories.

Three times FA Cup winners West Ham United last made the final 11 years ago when they were prevented from adding a fourth title by a terrific late Liverpool comeback. Manchester City have won the FA Cup five times, most recently six years ago, and last appeared in the Final four years ago when they lost to a last minute extra time goal to Wigan Athletic.

 

  1. Brighton and Hove Albion (EFL Championship) v Milton Keynes Dons (EFL One)

Level 2 v Level 3

First FA Cup meeting between the two clubs.

Brighton famously were FA Cup runners-up and relegated in the same season 33 years ago and will forever be associated with the phrase ‘and Smith must score’. Milton Keynes Dons have yet to go beyond the 5th Round in their 13 FA Cup campaigns.

 

  1. Blackpool (EFL Two) v Barnsley (EFL Championship)

Level 4 v Level 2

Five previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs. Blackpool have won three out of the five encounters, but Barnsley have scored the more goals thanks to a 6-0 replay win in their first pair up in 1909/10 season.

Both clubs have one FA Cup win under their belt, Barnsley in 1912 and Blackpool, famously, in 1953. In recent times both clubs have only gone beyond the 3rd Round twice this Century.

 

  1. Wigan Athletic (EFL Championship) v Nottingham Forest (EFL Championship)

Level 2 v Level 2

First FA Cup meeting between the two clubs. Wigan Athletic will be the 112th different club Nottingham Forest have faced in the FA Cup.

Wigan famously won the FA Cup four years ago and were relegated a week later. Nottingham Forest have won the FA Cup twice, but last went as far as the Quarter Finals 21 years ago.

 

  1. Birmingham City (EFL Championship) v Newcastle United (EFL Championship)

Level 2 v Level 2

Two previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, 101 years apart. Both previous meetings resulted in a 2-2 draw with Newcastle winning 3-0 in 1906 and Birmingham winning 5-1 in 2007.

Twice runners-up Birmingham City have reached the Quarter Finals three times in the last 11 years. Six times winners Newcastle, in contrast, have only won three FA Cup ties since also making the Quarter Finals 11 years ago.

 

  1. Chelsea (Premier League) v Peterborough United (EFL One)

Level 1 v Level 3

Two previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, Chelsea won both previous meetings scoring five goals on each occasion.

Seven times FA Cup winners Chelsea last failed to go beyond the 3rd Round 19 years ago when they lost 5-3 at home to Manchester United. Peterborough United’s best FA Cup run was to the Quarter Finals 52 years ago and have only gone beyond the 3rd Round twice in the last 11 seasons.

 

  1. Middlesbrough (Premier League) v Sheffield Wednesday (EFL Championship)

Level 1 v Level 2

Four previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, with two wins apiece. The clubs first met in the 19th Century and this will be their first meeting this Century.

Just one FA Cup final appearance for Middlesbrough, a 2-0 defeat to Chelsea 20 seasons ago. Three times winners Sheffield Wednesday last appeared in the Final four years before Middlesbrough did.

 

  1. West Bromwich Albion (Premier League) v Derby County (EFL Championship)

Level 1 v Level 2

Seven previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, with Derby County coming out on top on five occasions. This total includes a double win for Derby County in the 1945-46 season when clubs faced each other over two legs for the only time. Derby’s two wins equals one FA Cup victory.

Five times winners West Bromwich Albion have only failed to go beyond the 3rd Round three times in the last 10 seasons. One time winners Derby County have only failed twice in the same time period.

 

  1. Everton (Premier League) v Leicester City (Premier League)

Level 1 v Level 1

Two previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, both won by Everton, 84 years and 49 years ago respectively.

Five times winners Everton have made it as far as least the Quarter Finals five times over the last 10 years. Leicester City famously hold the record of most FA Cup Final appearances without ever lifting the Trophy, with four. Just one Quarter Final appearance for the Foxes in the last 10 years.

 

  1. Liverpool (Premier League) v Plymouth Argyle (EFL Two)

Level 1 v Level 4

First FA Cup meeting between the two clubs.

Liverpool won their seventh FA Cup Final 11 seasons ago and have not failed to progress beyond the 3rd Round for six years. Plymouth Argyle famously made the Semi-Finals as a third tier club in 1984, but have not gone beyond the 3rd Round for nine seasons. Argyle hold the record for most FA Cup 3rd Round exits with 49.

 

  1. Wycombe Wanderers (EFL Two) v Stourbridge (Northern Premier League Premier Division)

Level 4 v Level 7

First FA Cup meeting between the two clubs.

Wycombe Wanderers famously made the Semi-Finals as a third tier side 16 years ago, but have not gone beyond the 3rd Round since then. In fact that SF run was the only time the Chairboys have gone beyond the 3rd Round. Stourbridge are the lowest level team still in this year’s competition and are appearing in the 3rd Round for the first time ever in their 140 year history.

Both clubs are in their 112th FA Cup campaign. Wycombe only lead Stourbridge 1-0 on number of 3rd Round victories over their collective campaigns!

 

  1. Watford (Premier league) v Burton Albion (EFL Championship)

Level 1 v Level 2

First FA Cup meeting between the two.

Watford were runners-up in 1984 and have reached the Semi-Finals three times in the last 15 years including last season. Exempted until the 3rd Round for the first time in their history, Burton Albion are just one win away from equalling their best ever FA Cup run, achieved just the once six seasons ago.

 

  1. Preston North End (EFL Championship) v Arsenal (Premier League)

Level 2 v Level 1

Four previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs with two wins apiece. Preston won the first two encounters, Arsenal the latter two, but this is their first 21st Century meeting.

The battle of the clubs previously given the moniker ‘The Invincibles’. Two times FA Cup winners Preston have not gone beyond the 5th Round for over 50 years, whilst Arsenal are the current best FA Cup club having won the Trophy 12 times in total with five of those victories coming in the 21st Century. Arsenal also have the longest unbeaten run in the 3rd Round, having not lost at this stage of the competition since Sheffield United beat them 1-0 in a replay in 1996.

 

  1. Cardiff City (EFL Championship) v Fulham (EFL Championship)

Level 2 v Level 2

One previous FA Cup meeting between the two clubs, a 1924/25 2nd Round tie won 1-0 by Cardiff. Ninety two years is the longest any club has had to wait in this 3rd Round to avenge a previous FA Cup defeat.

Cardiff City won the FA Cup 90 seasons ago and last made the final just nine seasons ago. Fulham have had just one FA Cup Fi al appearance, back in 1975, and have at least reached the Quarter Finals four times this Century.

 

  1. Stoke City (Premier League) v Wolverhampton Wanderers (EFL Championship)

Level 1 v Level 2

Seven previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs. Stoke City won their only other 21st Century encounter, whilst Wolves won all the previous six meetings, including an 8-0 victory in the 3rd Round 1889/90 that represents Stoke City’s heaviest ever FA Cup defeat. (The irony is that Stoke had complained after losing 4-0 in their first meeting and that game was voided).

Stoke City eventually made the FA Cup Final six years ago and haven’t failed to go beyond the 3rd Round for seven seasons. Four times FA Cup winners Wolves haven’t gone beyond the 3rd Round for six years.

 

  1. Cambridge United (EFL Two) v Leeds United (EFL Championship)

Level 4 v Level 2

First FA Cup meeting between the two clubs.

Cambridge United have only once gone beyond the 3rd Round in the 21st Century. 1972 FA Cup winners Leeds United have made the 4th Round five times during that same period.

 

  1. Bristol City (EFL Championship) v Fleetwood Town (EFL One)

Level 2 v Level 3

First FA Cup meeting between the two clubs.

Bristol City have only gone beyond the 3rd Round twice in the last 15 years. Fleetwood Town are equalling their best ever FA Cup run last achieved five years ago.

 

  1. Huddersfield Town (EFL Championship) v Port Vale (EFL One)

Level 2 v Level 3

Four previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, with two wins apiece. This will be the third meeting between the two clubs in the last eight years.

1922 FA Cup winners Huddersfield Town have gone out in the 3rd Round in each of the last two seasons. Port Vale have only twice gone beyond the 3rd Round this Century.

 

  1. Tottenham Hotspur (Premier League) v Aston Villa (EFL Championship)

Level 1 v Level 2

Ten previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, the most common pair up in this year’s FA Cup 3rd Round, with Tottenham winning six and Villa winning four. This, however, will be the clubs first meeting in the Cup this Century.

Eight times FA Cup winners Tottenham Hotspur have reached the Semi-Finals six times since they last lifted the Trophy in 1991. Seven times FA Cup winners Aston Villa last won the competition 60 years ago, but were Finalists just two seasons ago.

 

  1. Brentford (EFL One) v Eastleigh (National League)

Level 2 v Level 5

First FA Cup meeting between the two clubs.

Brentford have been Quarter Finalists four times, but it is four years since the club made the 4th Round. Eastleigh are equalling their best ever FA Cup run achieved for the first time just last season.

 

  1. Bolton Wanderers (EFL One) v Crystal Palace (Premier League)

Level 3 v Level 1

One previous FA Cup meeting between the two clubs, a 1981/82 4th Round tie won 1-0 by Palace when both clubs were Division Two sides.

Bolton Wanderers haven’t failed to make the 4th Round for eight seasons. Palace were beaten Finalists last season, becoming only the second club to be in two FA Cup Finals and lose to the same side in both of them.

 

  1. Norwich City (EFL One) v Southampton (Premier League)

Level 2 v Level 1

Three previous FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, with Southampton ahead with two wins to one.

Norwich City are equal record holders of most FA Cup Semi-Finals without making the Final, falling at the last hurdle three times. The Canaries have gone out in the 3rd Round in each of the last three seasons. Southampton won the FA Cup in 1976 and were runners-up in 2003.

 

  1. Sutton United (National League) v AFC Wimbledon (EFL One)

Level 5 v Level 3

Depending upon your point of view, these sides have either never met in the FA Cup before, or have met on five occasions with Sutton being victorious three times, including a 7-0 win in the 1st Qualifying Round in the first competition run after the Second World War. (Sutton United were the first club AFC Wimbledon faced back in 2002. Sutton won 4-0 on that day. Sutton United and Wimbledon also famously met in the FA Amateur Cup Final in 1963 won 4-2 by Wimbledon).

Sutton United are into the 3rd Round for the first time in 28 years and are just one win away from equalling their best FA Cup run. AFC Wimbledon are either former FA Cup winners or are equalling their own best ever Cup run.

 

  1. Accrington Stanley (EFL Two) v Luton Town (EFL Two)

Level 4 v Level 4

First FA Cup meeting between the two clubs.

Accrington Stanley are just one win away from equalling their best ever FA Cup run, achieved just the once so far seven years ago. Luton Town were FA Cup runners-up 58 years ago, but most recently are noted for being the latest of just seven teams to reach the 5th Round as a Non-League club, doing so just four years ago.

 

  1. Rotherham United (EFL Championship) v Oxford United (EFL One)

Level 2 v Level 3

First FA Cup meeting between the two clubs.

Rotherham United have twice reached the 5th Round, but haven’t gone beyond the 3rd Round for 15 years. Oxford United made the Quarter Finals as a fourth tier side, but last season was their first time beyond the 3rd Round this Century.

The 2016 FACTAs

Welcome to the second annual FA Cup Team Awards (FACTAs)

To vote for your favourite leave a comment below stating the Team AND the Award you are voting for (some teams are nominated in more than one category).

Only ONE vote per category will be counted.

Almost 2,000 fans of Non-League clubs voted last year – can we beat that total this year?

Do follow @FACupFactfile on Twitter for more alternate ways to vote and to see the eventual winners. Twitter Polls are up for each category – please vote there, too.

The FACTAs 2016-17

 Nominations Overview

There are five FACupFactfile Team Awards (FACTAs) to be won this season recognising Non-League clubs FA Cup endeavours and the shortlist of nominees for each award is listed below. The winners will be announced on Friday 6th January 2017 before that evening’s Third Round FA Cup match.

 TEAM OF THE CUP FACTA

FACTA awarded to the club with the biggest positive impact on this season’s competition

Nominated clubs:

Beaconsfield SYCOB – for reaching Q4 Round for 1st time with a young squad

Curzon Ashton – for reaching 2nd Round for only their second time

Stourbridge – for reaching at least 2nd Round 4 times in 6 years as a level 7 club

Sutton United – for reaching 3rd Round for first time in 23 years

Taunton Town – for 5 clean sheets in run to 1st Round

Westfields – for being lowest ranked team in 1st Round and winning 6 ties

 

PERFORMANCE OF THE CUP FACTA

FACTA awarded to the club which produced the most memorable single performance in this year’s competition

Nominated clubs:

Barrow – for their 2-1 win at EFL 1 side Bristol Rovers

Lincoln City – for their 3-2 home win over EFL 1 side Oldham Athletic

Plymouth Parkway – for their 6-0 win at two levels above Bridgwater Town

Stamford – for their 3-2 extra time win at Wrexham

Stourbridge – for their 1-0 win over EFL 1 side Northampton Town

Sutton United – for their 2 v 1 comeback win over EFL 2 Cheltenham Town

Yaxley – for their 12-0 thrashing of Huntingdon Town

 

SURPRISE OF THE CUP FACTA

FACTA awarded to the club which produced the most unexpected result or Cup run

Nominated clubs:

Hadley – for reaching Q3 round with no home ground

Potters Bar Town – for beating two higher league clubs

Taunton Town – for beating three higher league clubs

Westfields – for beating three higher league clubs

SPECIAL TEAM AWARD FACTA

FACTA awarded to the club who epitomised the spirit of the FA Cup

Nominated clubs:

Ashton Athletic – for winning as many FA Cup matches this year as in previous 8 years

Eastleigh – for donating their share of gate receipts to North Leigh

Lincoln City – for a 7,000+ crowd for their tie with Oldham Athletic

Westfields – for scoring a total of 25 goals

FRIEND OF NON-LEAGUE FACTA

FACTA awarded to the League club who supported a Non-League club in the FA Cup

Nominated clubs:

Oxford United – for donating their share of gate receipts to Merstham

Blackpool Fans – for donating their non-spent ticket money to Kidderminster Harriers

Good luck to all clubs who have been nominated, and happy voting!

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How to Save the Checkatrade Trophy

Out-of-his-depth Shaun Harvey, CEO of the EFL, has indicated that his much heralded re-vamp of what was the JP Trophy has not worked, and that the new format under the name of the Checkatrade Trophy may be scrapped.

Its failure will come as no surprise to anyone who understands football, and in particular understands football fans, but to the apparently incompetent Mr Harvey, it is probably a massive shock. Mr Harvey will believe the whole competition is at fault, and will blithely ignore the real reasons why fans didn’t support it and why clubs treated it with contempt. (Read my thoughts as to why I believed it would fail  https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2016/07/29/like-turkeys-voting-for-christmas/ )

There are three actions I’d propose to create a Checkatrade Trophy that both the fans and the clubs will want to positively compete in, and it doesn’t require the usual approach of bribing clubs with increased prize money.

Recommendation No. 1 Revert the competition back to being just for EFL 1 and EFL 2 Clubs

In other words, remove the ill-judged, money-focused inclusion of Premier League and Championship ‘B’ Teams. An obvious no-brainer but for Mr Harvey’s sake, I’ll spell it out. This is the reason the competition has failed from a fans’ perspective. Many others better placed than me can explain why, but ultimately it is insulting to member EFL clubs and their fans to have their first teams facing reserve teams of the latest higher level clubs in EFL sanctioned competitive matches. Additionally, the EFL should use this competition to encourage clubs to blood young talent, thereby encapsulating the benefits detailed in the EFL Futures proposal recently announced.

Recommendation No. 2 Make sure all games have relevance

The introduction of a group stage wasn’t an issue per se. Without the B teams it could have worked, but the approach needs to be amended so that every game played has something riding on it. The 48 EFL 1 & EFL 2 clubs should be drawn into 16 groups of three teams with every club in each group due to play each other just once, with the winners only progressing to the knock-out stages. Only when the first two clubs have met should it be determined which two clubs face each other in the second and third games.

To illustrate, there are three teams in each group: Teams A, B and C. Suppose Team A meet Team B first. The second match will then be between Team C and whoever loses the first match (if the first match is a draw it is irrelevant whether it is Team A or B). Then the final match will be between Team C and the other remaining side. This approach guarantees that at least one club will have something to play for in every game, and will end the situation of there being a dead rubber in the final match.

Sceptics may suggest there will be scheduling issues with Team C not knowing their first opponents, but this is not really that different to a standard knock-out competition when clubs don’t know if they will have to play a cup game or a league game on a future date until the current round of Cup matches is resolved. With enough gap between games, this is easily manageable.

Recommendation No. 3 Ensure all Group matches involve the three closest clubs

The regionalisation element of this season’s Checkatrade Trophy was farcical, and this can better be managed by just allocating clubs to each group based upon proximity. This may mean season after season the same three clubs face each other in the group stages, particularly those on the extremes of the country, but actually a positive feature could be made of this fact, something of the ilk of the Calcutta Cup in rugby union, whereby a second trophy could be awarded for each group winners who would be crowned ‘regional champions’.

This regional approach, coupled with a recognised prize for best club in the region, will add extra spice to group games, enhance local rivalries and give all group matches extra fan appeal. Regionalisation should then continue as best as possible for at least the first round of the knock-out stages.

There is no need to scrap the Checkatrade Trophy just because of an ill-conceived approach of kowtowing to Premier League demands meant it has ‘failed’ this season. If the EFL apply my three recommendations stated above it would bring new life back into the competition and give both the fans and the clubs involved something worth playing for.

FA Cup 2016-17 2nd Round Review

Five non-league clubs are through to the 3rd Round draw with four clubs having terrific wins over EFL opposition . First up was National League side Sutton United who came from behind to win 2-1 at home to EFL 2 club Cheltenham Town, avenging their 1-0 defeat to the same club in the competition 19 years ago, and making the 3rd Round for the first time in 23 years.

This was followed up by a fantastic 2-1 win by National League Barrow away from home at EFL 1 side Bristol Rovers, also avenging a past FA Cup defeat of 10 years ago, and making the 3rd Round for the first time in seven years. It will be the 12th time the Bluebirds will appear in the 3rd Round,  but they have yet to progress any further. The club holds the record for the most 3rd Round appearances without ever having made the 4th Round.

Then it was the turn of Lincoln City, the National League side winning 3-2 at home to EFL 1 club Oldham Athletic, to exact revenge for losing by the same scoreline when the two clubs met in the FA Cup previously, 80 years ago.

Putting the icing on the cake was Stourbridge from Northern Premier League Premier Division winning 1-0 at home to EFL 1 side Northampton Town, four levels above the Glassboys. The win takes Stourbridge into the FA Cup 3rd Round for the first time ever in what is their 112th campaign, can consigned the Cobblers to a record 31st Second Round exit in the process.

Joining these four clubs in the 3rd Round is National League side Eastleigh, who reach their record best round in the FA Cup for the second successive season after winning 2-0 in a replay at National League North club FC Halifax Town, who themselves set a new personal best since re-forming on 2008.

Five non-league clubs in the 3rd Round has only ever been bettered twice before since the current FA Cup format was put in place in 1925.

It looked to all intents and purposes that these five non-league clubs would be joined by a sixth in the shape of National League North side Curzon Ashton, for whom Adam Morgan scored a hat-trick to put the Nash three goals up, maintaining that lead until 10 minutes to go. And then there came about one of the most remarkable comebacks in FA Cup history as EFL 1 club AFC Wimbledon score three goals in the space of just over three minutes, before grabbing a last gasp winner to seal the win. Heartbreak for Curzon, but their fans, players, volunteers and management team can all be rightly proud of equalling the club’s best ever FA Cup run despite the manner of the defeat.

The Cup upsets weren’t just confined to the non-league clubs, two EFL 2 clubs overcame higher league opponents, too. First up this time were the Chairboys of Wycombe Wanderers who stormed to a 5-0 victory at EFL 1 club Chesterfield thanks in large part to a Scott Kashket hat-trick. Then it was the turn of Cambridge United who beat Coventry City 4-0 with Luke Berry grabbing all four goals. Surprising as these results were, the outcomes were exactly the same when both sets of teams previously met in the FA Cup.

Some other non-league clubs saw their terrific runs come to an end with personal FA Cup records being set or equalled along the way. National League sides Braintree Town and Solihull Moors both set new FA Cup records for round reached in the competition. The Iron had had five successive 1st Round exits prior to this season so at least they now have finally progressed to the 2nd Round despite losing 5-2 at EFL 1 club Millwall for whom Harry Smith scored a hat-trick. And the Moors achievement this season eclipses the best runs for both of their predecessor clubs, Solihull Borough and Moor Green, who both only made it as far as the 1st Round. It’s some consolation for a dramatic turnaround of events in their game at EFL 2 side Luton Town whom they led 2-0 at half-time only for the League side to dominate the second to run out 6-2 winners.

Along with the aforementioned unfortunate Curzon Ashton, fellow National League North side Brackley Town also went out of the FA Cup whilst equalling their best run in the competition. The Saints only lost 1-0 at EFL 2 side Blackpool and can be proud of the fact they are the current second highest scorers in the competition with 20 goals with Jimmy Armson the second top goal-scorer with seven.

Port Vale and Hartlepool United met for the second time in the FA Cup. On the previous occasion the Valiants inflicted the biggest ever FA Cup defeat on the Pool with a 6-0 victory. This time it was only 4-0, but Hartlepool will be hoping to avoid their opponents in the competition for a long time to come. Another repeat winner was Rochdale who defeated Carlisle United in the FA Cup for the second time in two meetings.

More familiar FA Cup opponent came in the shape of EFL 1 pacesetters Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United. The two clubs had been drawn together in the FA Cup for the 10th time with the Blades having won five of the previous nine encounters, with all nine settled at the first time of asking. The first meeting in 1889/90 season had resulted in a 13-0 victory for the Trotters. This time they won just 3-2, but that defeat for the Blades means it is the first time in 35 years that they won’t be in the hat for the 3rd Round draw.