The FA Cup Preliminary Round will see 320 Steps 3 to 6 clubs battle it out for a place in the 1st Qualifying Round.
Among their number are eight clubs competing in the FA Cup for the first time who won their debut ties in the last round, including Longridge Town who beat Barnoldswick Town 6-1 and Melton Town who scored two very late goals to win 2-1 at Worksop Town to cause the Cupset of the Round.
There are also eight other clubs who are into the Preliminary Round for the first time after winning their first FA Cup match in two or three attempts. Abbey Rangers and Broadbridge Heath had had the most campaigns but both finally registered their first FA Cup win at the fourth attempt.
One of the sixteen clubs into this Round for the first time is Widnes, who have reached this stage courtesy of their League status rather than their Cup exploits. Widnes are one of only two teams in this round yet to win an FA Cup match, the other being the recently formed Ossett United who went out on penalties last season.
There are also 16 clubs who compete at Step 3 in the pyramid in this round who in recent past competitions would not have started until the 1st Qualifying Round. They’ll all be mindful that seven Step 4 clubs who had to start earlier than normal in the Extra Preliminary Round have already been knocked out.
All the Step 3 sides have avoided each other. However, Stalybridge Celtic versus West Didsbury & Chorlton, Bromsgrove Sporting against Leicester Road, Peterborough Sports taking on Bugbrooke St Michaels, and Bowers & Pitsea facing Barkingside are all Preliminary Round ties where a Step 3 side hosts a Step 6 club. Could one of these produce the Cupset of this Round?
Only twenty-five of the 160 ties pair up two clubs who will face each other in their league campaign this season, and just 30 pit two sides together who have met before in the FA Cup. The most common tie sees Bedworth United and Halesowen Town meet for the sixth time with the West Midlands side ahead by three wins to two.
Wisbech Town have beaten Ely City in all three of their previous FA Cup encounters. Bridgwater Town have done the same to Brislington, but in their case the result has been 1-0 every time.
In the previous Round, Long Eaton United won 8-2 at Bottesford Town, sweet revenge for a 6-0 defeat by the same team just two seasons earlier. So, in this Round there’s hope therefore for the likes of Staveley Miners Welfare who lost 5-1 to their Preliminary Round opponents Lincoln United last time around.
In the Extra Preliminary Round the top nine winning margins were all produced by the away side. Two of those teams won 7-0, Heanor Town and AFC Mansfield, and they go head to head in this Round. It has nil-nil draw written all over it!
Top scorers, Whickham, netted 10 times in the last Round and their home tie with Thornaby is one of a handful of games that kick off this Round on Friday night.
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