Parkway Lead the Way in Cup Upsets
South West Peninsula League Premier Division club Plymouth Parkway produced the Cup Upset of this year’s FA Cup Preliminary Round as the Step 6 side romped to a 6-0 victory, including a Josh Grant hat-trick, at Bridgwater Town who play at Step 4 in the Southern League Division One South and West.
Four other Step 6 clubs also won away at Step 4 opposition including FA Cup debutants Ashby Ivanhoe as the East Midlands Counties League side won 3-1 at Loughborough Dynamo from Northern Premier League Division One South. North West League Division One side Cheadle Town won 4-2 at last season’s FA Cup heroes Northwich Victoria also from Northern Premier League Division One South. Halstead Town from Eastern Counties League Division One won 3-2 at Isthmian League Division One North club Thurrock. And Southern Counties East Division One side East Preston also triumphed at a club two steps above them in the shape of Tooting and Mitcham United from Isthmian League Division One South.
Other Step 6 clubs to beat higher league opposition include East Midlands Counties League side Dunkirk, FA Cup new boys Leicester Road from Midland Football League Division One, Northern Counties East League Division One side Pontefract Collieries, Western League Division One club Portishead Town and Spartan South Midlands League Division One club Harefield United who needed a replay to overcome their South Midlands higher League rivals Wembley.
There are a dozen Step 6 clubs still in this year’s FA Cup: Ashby Ivanhoe, Billingham Synthonia, Brigg Town, Cheadle Town, Dunkirk, East Preston, Halstead Town, Harefield Utd, Leicester Road, Plymouth Parkway, Pontefract Collieries and Portishead Town. They all face higher league opposition in the 1st Qualifying Round with a quarter of them due to face Step 3.
Sixteen Step 5 clubs also defeated Step 4 opposition namely AFC Portchester, Ascot United, Ashford United, FA Cup debutants CB Hounslow United, Deeping Rangers, Gillingham Town, Handsworth Parramore, North Greenford United, Sevenoaks Town, Shildon, Street and Sun Sports who all won at home, Spartan South Midlands Premier Division side Biggleswade United and Northern League Division One club Consett who both won as the away club, and Alresford Town and Camberley Town who both won after replays.
1st Time in 1st Qualifying Round
There are six clubs in their debut FA Cup season still alive in the First Qualifying Round. Alongside the aforementioned giant-killers Ashby Ivanhoe, CB Hounslow and Leicester Road stand Midland Football League Premier Division side Coventry United, as well as two Southern League Division One South and West clubs, Hereford and Salisbury.
There are also 13 other clubs who have made it as far as the 1st Qualifying Round. The club with the most campaigns is Sawbridgeworth United from the Essex Senior League, who have won through the Preliminary for the first time in 17 FA Cup campaigns. Fellow Essex Senior League side Sporting Bengal United have achieved the same feat in their 10th campaign, whilst Wessex League Premier side Alresford Town and North West Counties League Premier Division club Ashton Athletic are both in the 1st Qualifying Round for the 1stntimemin nine campaigns.
United Counties League Premier Division club Kirby Muxloe (8 campaigns), Hadley from Spartan South Midlands Premier League (7 campaigns), and Ashford United from Southern Counties East League Premier Division (5 campaigns) will all taste a new level of FA Cup action this season.
Joining these clubs are Brimscombe and Thrupp, Handsworth Parramore and Portishead Town who are all in their third FA Cup campaign, and AFC Mansfield, Andover Town and Sun Sports who are all in their second.
Worth the Wait
Several clubs will be appearing in the 1st Qualifying Round for the first time in quite a while. It’s been 32 years since Midland Football League Premier Division side Highgate United went beyond the Preliminary Round. However, The Gate are only in their 15th FA Cup campaign in that time. It is 21 years for United Counties Premier League club Eynesbury Rovers, but they’ve only competed in the FA Cup eight times during that time. The club with the most campaigns is Pontefract Collieries who have waited 19 years and 17 campaigns to get in to the 1st Qualifying Round again.
Other clubs celebrating going beyond the Preliminary Round for the first time in a while include Winsford United (12 years), Egham Town (11 years), and both Cheshunt and Mossley (six years).
Never Been Further
Nine clubs will be celebrating equalling their best ever FA Cup run and hoping to make the Second Qualifying Round for the first time in their history. Spartan South Midlands Premier League side London Colney are in their 21st FA Cup campaign, Southern League Division One South and West club Wantage Town are in their 14th campaign, Biggleswade United and Sevenoaks Town are in their 12th campaign, and Colliers Wood United are competing in the FA Cup for the 11th time.
Others equalling their best run are Kempston Rovers (8 campaigns), Peterborough Sports (6), Plymouth Parkway (5) and Brightlingsea Regent (4).
Sighs of Relief
Isthmian League Division One North club AFC Hornchurch have never been knocked out of the FA Cup as early as the Preliminary Rounds in 12 campaigns now thanks this time to a narrow 1-0 over League rivals Aveley. Four other clubs put long unblemished Preliminary Round records on the line, but came through unscathed. The Queen has been on the throne as long as Isthmian League Division One South club Carshalton Athletic have always gone beyond the Preliminary Round in the FA Cup and that record was kept intact with a comfortable 3-0 win over Farnham Town. Northern Premier League Division One North club Hyde United were protecting a 37 year record but a 4-0 win over Cammell Laird 1907 put that fear behind them. League rivals Burscough defended a 24 year record with a 4-1 win at Parkgate, whilst Histon from Southern League Division One Central scraped through 2-1 at Norwich United.
Other clubs weren’t so lucky. Isthmian League Division One North club Thurrock have been knocked out in the Preliminary Round for the first time in 28 yrs. Droylsden from Northern Premier League Division One North exit the FA Cup at this early stage for the first time in 20 years. League rivals Bamber Bridge and Isthmian League Division One side Aveley are both knocked out in the Preliminary Round for the first time in 10 years. Arlesey (9 years), Brentwood United (7), Ramsbottom United (7) and Larkhall Athletic (6) are all tasting defeat at this stage for the first time in a while.
Out but Proud
Several clubs who’ve been knocked out of the FA Cup can be proud in the knowledge that they have achieved their best ever Cup run despite this. This means they had never won an FA Cup match before this season. Wessex League Premier Division side Amesbury Town were in their 5th campaign, fellow League rivals Team Solent were in their fourth, United Counties Premier League side Harrowby United were in their third, whilst Southern Combination Premier League club Loxwood and Oldland Abbotonians from Western League Division One were both in their second.
Many other clubs have gone out in the Preliminary Round but have also equalled their best ever FA Cup run. Western League Premier Division side Shepton Mallet equalled their best of reaching the Preliminary Round in their 13th campaign, AFC Emley in their 10th campaign, Verwood Town in their 7th and Bedfont Sports in their sixth. Nine other clubs with five or less campaigns also equalled their best run.
The Wait Goes On
For several clubs the wait to appear in the 1st Qualifying Round again goes on and on. It is 58 years since Essex Senior League club Eton Manor made it beyond the Preliminary Round although this was just their 15th campaign since then. Nelson have failed now in 49 years and 11 campaigns, Clapton in each of the last 11 years, North Shields in 24 years and 10 campaigns, and Barking in each of the last 10 years to appear in the 1st Qualifying Round again. Other clubs who will have to wait at least another season before going beyond the Preliminary Round are Odd Down (10 campaigns), Long Melford (8), Tower Hamlets and Godmanchester Rovers (7 each), and Great Wakering Rovers (6).
The latter two clubs have both exited the FA Cup in each of the last six seasons, whilst eight other clubs have been knocked out at this stage for the fourth successive time, including Marlow from Southern League Division One Central, a former Semi-Finalists who exit at the Preliminary Round stage of the competition for a record 44th time.
North West Counties League Premier Division side 1874 Northwich have now entered the FA Cup three times and have gone out in the Preliminary Round each time.
Goals, Goals, Goals!
Northern Premier League Division One South side Chasetown have set a new club record FA Cup win with a 9 v 0 victory over Brocton, whilst the 8-0 win for Isthmian League Division One North side Cheshunt over Basildon United is one short of their own club record. There was a second match with nine goals as another Isthmian League Division One North club Haringey Borough won 7-2 at home to Barkingside. Southern League Division One South and West club North Leigh also scored seven goals, but they were away from home at Thame United, a club they had faced just once before in the FA Cup winning 6-0 that time. Two Step 6 clubs won by a 6-0 scoreline, one was Plymouth Parkway as mentioned earlier, and the other was Billingham Synthonia who beat fellow Northern League Division Two club Northallerton Town. A James Walshaw hat-trick also helped to give Northern Premier League Division One North club Farsley Celtic a 6-0 away win at Congleton Town.
Three Preliminary Round ties ended 4-4 including Yaxley versus Dereham United, the last two clubs to both win 12-0 in an FA Cup match. Dereham won the replay 1-0, but Yaxley have scored 16 FA Cup goals this season. There won’t be many clubs who do better than that no matter how far they go in the competition!
The 1-0 win for Morpeth Town over fellow Northern League Division One club North Shields exacted revenge for a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of the same club exactly 60 years ago. Northern Premier League Division One South club Spalding United won 3-0 at Bury Town 35 years after their opponents had beaten them in their only other FA Cup meeting. For Dunston UTS it has been 25 years they’ve had to wait to avenge defeat by fellow Northern League Division One club Penrith, whilst Barton Rovers from Southern League Division One Central and Shildon from Northern League Division One North both have had to wait 20 years to avenge defeats to Edgware Town and Kendal Town (Netherfield (Kendal)) respectively.
For other clubs the wait to get their revenge for an FA Cup loss goes on. For North West Counties League Premier Division club Atherton Collieries it is the third time this Century they have lost to Northern Premier League Division One South club Witton Albion. Likewise for Newcastle Town who have lost to fellow Northern Premier League Division One South club Leek Town for the third time in the same period.
Thirteen other clubs lost to an opponent for the second time in two FA Cup meetings including the aforementioned Thame United who will want to avoid meeting North Leigh again with a goal-difference of 1-13 in their two matches so far.
Final mention goes to FA Cup new guys Hereford who found themselves 2-0 down at home to last season’s Midland Football League Premier Division rivals Alvechurch, only to have a complete turnaround in the second half and end up winning the match 4-2.