A version of this FA Cup 2020-21 4th Qualifying Round preview was originally published in the Non-League Paper.
The 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup is one of the biggest weekends of the Non-League football calendar with this year 62 clubs vying for the chance to be pitted against Football League opposition in the 1st Round ‘Proper’.
National League North club Chorley already have that opportunity owing to Macclesfield Town’s demise, having received the first ‘bye’ in this round for 89 years, since Bath City received the same in 1931/32 season.
This year Bath City are involved in one of seven 4th Qualifying Round ties featuring clubs who’ve met in the competition before having beaten Havant and Waterlooville 2-0 in Q2 Round 16 years ago.
The most common tie of the Round is the all National League clash between Sutton United and Bromley who are drawn together for the sixth time. Sutton won through the first two times, but Bromley have triumphed on the last three occasions.
Eastbourne Borough and Dulwich Hamlet are meeting in the FA Cup for the third successive season, with one win apiece in past meetings both occurring in the 3rd Qualifying Round.
That all National League South tie is one of five involving clubs where the winner is guaranteed to be equalling their best FA Cup run. Banbury United versus Bury Town, Tonbridge Angels versus Taunton Town, Hemel Hempstead Town versus Hampton and Richmond Borough, and Concord Rangers versus Chippenham Town are the other four.
A quirky aside is that Chippenham Town have now been involved in the last tie drawn out of the hat in each of the last three rounds.
Three clubs are hoping to make the 1st Round ‘Proper’ for the first time since the early 1970s. Banbury United last did so in 1973/74 season, Tonbridge Angels last in 1972/73, and Skelmersdale United have waited since 1971/72 to repeat the feat.
Skelmersdale United are also the last Step 5 club and the lowest ranked team remaining in the competition, and are one of two clubs that started their FA Cup campaign in the Extra Preliminary Round still going. Northern Premier League Division One Northwest club Marske United is the other team that have already won through as many rounds as the clubs that get to Wembley will win through.
Marske United are also one of eight clubs looking to reach the 1st Round ‘Proper’ for the first time in their history. Ilkeston Town are hoping to achieve the feat in what is only their second campaign, whilst Cray Wanderers are competing in the FA Cup for the 72nd time. Along with Ilkeston Town, Cray Valley Paper Mills and Sholing could arguably have the most difficult tasks to break their ‘Proper’ Round duck as both Step 4 clubs are drawn against National League opposition.
Conversely, two clubs will be defending proud FA Cup records. Hartlepool United last exited the competition in the Qualifying Rounds back in 1923/24 season, whilst former winners Notts County have never exited the FA Cup before the ‘Proper’ Rounds in their 133 previous campaigns. – breaking news, Notts County have withdrawn due to positive Covid_19 test results.