A version of this FA Cup 2020-21 2nd Qualifying Round preview was originally published in the Non-League Paper.
Forty-three National League North and South clubs join 117 lower non-league sides who have fought their way into the 2nd Qualifying Round draw.
There are six ties involving two National League sides with a couple of them pitting North versus South: Brackley Town host Billericay Town whilst Chelmsford City travel to Kettering Town. Nb. All FA Cup Q2 Round games with Step 2 clubs as the home side are to be played behind closed doors.
Several National League sides have been drawn away at Step 5 clubs with Warrington Rylands, Whitley Bay, Hashtag United, Sheppey United, Corinthian, Christchurch and Royal Wootton Bassett Town all looking to cause the ‘Cupset of the Round’ in front of their own fans (as away fans of Step 2 clubs have been banned from attending).
However, Northern Counties East League Premier side AFC Mansfield have the toughest task of all Step 5 clubs needing to travel to Boston United to also try to avenge defeat to the same side in the competition three years ago.
The two lowest ranked Step 6 clubs still in the competition have both been drawn to face Step 4 sides. Hellenic League Division One East Risborough Rangers travel to last season’s surprise package Chichester City whilst Saltash United of the Southwest Peninsula League West host Sholing.
A quarter of the eighty 2nd Qualifying Round ties involve clubs who’ve met in the FA Cup before. Some clubs have had to wait a long time to avenge past defeats. Alvechurch twice lost to Kidderminster Harriers in the 1970s, Marlow were beaten 1-0 by Bracknell Town 41 years ago, and Prescot Cables last made it all the way to the 1st Round ‘Proper’ in 1959 only to lose 4-0 to Darlington. Sixty-one years of pain could be laid to rest against the current Darlington club.
On the flip side Barking will be hoping to avenge their defeat to Kings Langley from only last season.
The most common tie of the round is the local derby between National League South St Albans City and Hitchin Town of the Southern League Premier Central Division. They have faced each other eight times in the FA Cup in the past. Hitchin have the edge over their more senior opponents with a 5 to 2 win ratio in past FA Cup meetings.
The Ilkeston Town versus Hanley Town tie not only guarantees at least one club in the 3rd Qualifying Round for the first time ever, but neither side has actually made it even this far before!
Mickleover versus Newark and Kidlington versus Bristol Manor Farm also guarantees two clubs will either be setting or equalling their best ever FA Cup runs.
The tie with the biggest disparity in past FA Cup experience is Warrington Rylands versus York City. The Cheshire club had just one campaign prior to this season, exiting in the Extra Preliminary Round, whilst York City have 92 campaigns and one Semi-Final appearance under their belt.
Finally, the first ever ‘Super’ derby in FA Cup history takes place in the 2nd Qualifying Round as Weston-super-Mare take on their Southern League Premier South rivals Swindon Supermarine.