This year’s FA Cup kicked off with five matches on Friday 5th August, the earliest that the competition had ever started in its 145 year history, and when Lynton Goss fired home to open the scoring for Thame United in their 3-0 win over FA Cup new boys Abbey Rangers, it became the earliest in the season a goal had ever been scored in the competition. It may be a record that will never ever be improved upon.
Dozen it Feel Good
Two years ago Coleshill Town recorded the biggest win of that year’s FA Cup with a 10-0 victory over Nuneaton Griff in the Extra Preliminary Round. They then followed that up with the biggest victory in the 2015-16 competition with an 11-0 win over Ellesmere Rangers, also in the Extra Preliminary Round. So could they go one better and score 12 against Cradley Town? As it happens, they couldn’t (held to a 2-2 draw), but someone else did. Step forward United Counties Premier League outfit Yaxley who hit 12 without reply against a hapless Huntingdon Town. Phil Stebbing scored two, Matt Sparrow hit a hat-trick and Dan Cotton scored four including two penalties, even missing another penalty that would have made it thirteen!
Unsurprisingly, that 12 goal winning margin is the biggest FA Cup win in Yaxley’s history (previous highest was five goals against Northampton Spencer in 2002/03) and has only ever been bettered 45 times in over 69,000 FA Cup matches. It was last achieved in 2007/808 season when Dereham Town won 12-0 at home to Fakenham Town in that season’s Extra Preliminary Round. And who do Yaxley face in this year’s Preliminary Round? That’s right, Dereham Town. Probably end up being a boring goalless draw.
Mind the Gap
Another big winning margin was produced by Ilford, who put nine goals past fellow Essex Senior League side Burnham Ramblers without reply, including a hat-trick for Ben Turner. That goal haul supersedes the club’s previous biggest victory in the FA Cup, a 7-0 Fourth Qualifying Round win over Oxford City 84 years ago. United Counties Premier League side Peterborough Sports also recorded their biggest ever FA Cup win with an 8-0 victory over Gorleston from the Eastern Counties Premier League. Avelino Viera and Mark Jones would have to fight over the match ball bagging a hat-trick apiece in the win.
Cadbury Heath, from the Western League Premier Division, also set a new FA Cup biggest win thanks to their 7-0 defeat of Folland Sports, surpassing the six goals they scored against Corsham Town five years ago.
Stat of the Round
Another team to score seven goals (including a hat-trick from Kerran Boylan) was Crawley Down Gatwick as they were involved in a goal-fest of a match at fellow Southern Combination Premier League side Hailsham Town eventually winning the tie 7-5, a remarkable score-line that has only ever occurred six times before in FA Cup history. It is only the fourth occasion that the away side has won by such a scoreline and the last time that happened was in 1938/39 when Biggleswade and District won at Kempston Rovers. Bizarrely, though, all seven matches that ended up 7-5 were won by the original away side as all three home victories were in replayed matches.
Several clubs were defending proud FA Cup records that had seen them never exit the competition as early as the Extra Preliminary Round, but a few of them can no longer make that claim. Hellenic Premier League side Burnham lost 2-0 at home to Oxhey Jets in their 22nd FA Cup campaign, Stourport Swifts lost 4-3 at home to fellow Midland Football Premier League outfit Westfields in their 25th FA Cup season, Redbridge went down 5-1 at home to fellow Essex Senior League club Waltham Forest in their 41st campaign, and Easington Collieries from Northern League Division Two lost 1-0 to Northallerton Town in their 52nd campaign. But it is Leighton Town from Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division with the longest proud run now broken by losing 2-1 at home to Northampton Sileby Rangers and being knocked out of the FA Cup in the Extra Preliminary Round for the first time in their 55th campaign.
Worth the Wait
Many other clubs were experiencing victory in the FA Cup for the very first time, some after several years of trying. Wessex League Premier Division side Team Solent broke their FA Cup duck at the fourth time of asking, and in spectacular fashion too, winning 6-0 at Lydney Town from Hellenic Premier League. Another Wessex League Premier Division Side Amesbury Town had four FA Cup campaigns under their belt without a victory, but put all that behind them with a 2-0 win at Western League Premier Division outfit Sherborne Town. United Counties Premier League side Harrowby United beat Eastern Counties Premier Division side Thetford Town to record their first FA Cup win in their third season.
Northern Counties East Premier League side AFC Mansfield won 4-0 at Shepshed Dynamo from Midland Football Premier League to record their first FA Cup win in their second season. Southern Combination Premier League side Loxwood won 1-0 at Erith and Belvedere from the Premier Division of the Southern Counties East League to record their first win in their second FA Cup season. Spartan South Midlands Premier League side Sun Sports beat League rivals London Tigers 2-0 in a replay to win their first ever FA Cup match in their second season. Western League Division One side Oldland Abbotonians had only had one inauspicious adventure in the FA Cup losing 9-3 to Bristol Manor Farm three years ago, but this season they won 1-0 against higher league opposition in the shape of Newport from the Isle of Wight.
Concentrate on the League
However, AFC Croydon Athletic (4 seasons), AFC Darwen (2), Anstey Nomads (3), Barnoldswick Town (6), Fawley (5), London Bari (2) Penistone Church (2) are all still waiting for that first taste of glory in the FA Cup. Abbey Rangers, AFC Uckfield Town, Aylestone Park, Bridon Ropes, Cheddar, Gravesham Borough, Haughmond, Sheppey United and Wolverhampton Sporting Community were all FA Cup new boys who exited the competition at the Extra Preliminary Round this year and will be hoping that it doesn’t become the start of a long wait to experience an FA Cup win.
First Time Lucky
CB Hounslow United from Combined Counties Premier League made the most impressive debut of this year’s competition winning 5-1 at Fairford Town of Hellenic League Division One West, whilst Longlevens from Hellenic Premier won 4-2 at home to Bedfont and Feltham from Combined Counties Premier League. Another debut victory came from Ashby Ivanhoe from East Midlands Counties League who snatched a 4-3 victory at home to Quorn from the higher Midland Football Premier League. Southern Counties East Premier League side Hollands and Blair also recorded an FA Cup debut win 3-2 at Horsham YMCA from Southern Combination Premier League. Midland Football League Division One side Leicester Road came through 4-2 in a replay win over Retford United from the higher Northern Counties East Premier Division
Small but Deadly
There were ten all Step 6 Extra Preliminary Round ties guaranteeing ten Step 6 clubs an appearance in the Preliminary Round, but these numbers were boosted by 18 other Step 6 clubs who overcame opposition from a higher level in the pyramid, some of whom will now pit themselves against clubs from two divisions above. The biggest margin of victory was 4-1 achieved by North West Counties League Division One side Alsager Town and Southern Counties East League Division One side East Preston, whilst Buckland Athletic from South West Premier League Premier Division, Combined Counties League Division One side Banstead Athletic, and Dunkirk from East Midlands Counties League all won away from home against higher League opposition.
Essex Senior League side Sawbridgeworth Town triumphed in the FA Cup for the first time in 10 matches after scraping through on penalties against League rivals Southend Manor. Similarly, North West Counties Premier League side Nelson had gone without victory in the last eight of their 70 FA Cup campaigns, but put all that behind them with a fine 2-1 win at Northern League Division One side Ashington appearing in the competition for the 100th time, a centenary they may very well choose to forget.
No such luck for Hailsham Town who’s aforementioned 7-5 defeat was their eighth successive exit in the Extra Preliminary Round. Western League Division One side Welton Rovers have also exited the FA Cup in the Extra Preliminary Round in their last eight campaigns, this time losing 2-0 to Bitton from the Division above in the same League. And Nostell Miners Welfare experienced their seventh successive Extra Preliminary Round exit after losing 3-2 to Maine Road in a replay.
But the club with the most unenviable FA Cup record is Wolverhampton Casuals from West Midlands Regional League Premier Division whose 2-1 replay defeat at home to Lichfield City from Midland Football League Division One resulted in their record 22nd exit from the competition in the Extra Preliminary Round.