The 2015/16 FACTA Winners

The inaugural FACTA winners have been announced. These awards were set up to recognise the contribution Non-League clubs make to the world’s greatest football knock-out competition; The FA Cup.

A total of 1,226 votes were cast across the four FACTA categories of Special Team Award, Surprise of the Cup, Performance of the Cup and the Team of the Cup, and the winners were the teams from those nominated by the Twittersphere that gained the most votes in each category.

Votes were cast via comments left on this Blog site, by Tweets naming team and the award, and via four Twitter polls. And the winners are:

Special Team Award FACTA goes to HARTLEY WINTNEY 

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Share of votes for Special Team Award were:

8.4% FC United of Manchester

5.6% Grays Athletic

63.4% Hartley Wintney

23.6% Sporting Khalsa

Surprise of the Cup FACTA goes to HODDESDON TOWN

2015-16 Surprise of the Cup-page-001.jpg

Share of votes for Surprise of the Cup FACTA were:

7.6% Brockenhurst

13.2% Chesham United

9.1% Hinckley AFC

33.7% Hoddesdon Town

17.8% Hook Norton

18.6% Whitehawk

Performance of the Cup FACTA goes to CHESHAM UNITED

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Share of votes in the Performance of the Cup FACTA were:

4.8% AFC Fylde

30.2% Chesham United

18.7% Coleshill Town

28.9% Didcot Town

3.8% South Park

5.7% Westfields

7.9% Worthing

Team of the Cup FACTA goes to DIDCOT TOWN

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Share of votes in Team of the Cup FACTA were:

39.0% Didcot Town

11.2% Eastleigh

34.9% Northwich Victoria

14.9% Salford City


Once again, thanks to everyone who took the time to vote, congratulations to all the winners, commiserations to the other nominees and well done for all Non-League clubs who make the FA Cup the fantastic, unique competition that it is.

Here’s to another wonderful competition beginning in August 2016.


The FACTAs 2015-16 – Nominations Shortlist

There are four FACupFactfile Team Awards (FACTAs) to be won for this season’s FA Cup endeavours and the short-list of nominees for each award is listed below. The winners will be announced on Friday 8th January before that evening’s Third Round FA Cup match.

Do leave a comment to vote in one or more of these awards and follow @FACupFactfile on Twitter to see who wins.


FACTA awarded to the club with the biggest positive impact on this season’s competition

Nominated clubs:

Didcot Town – for being the lowest ranked club to make the First Round

Eastleigh – for being the last Non-League club standing

Northwich Victoria – for winning six FA Cup ties which only the eventual winner will match

Salford City – for reaching three rounds further than the club had ever been before in the Cup



FACTA awarded to the club which produced the most memorable single performance in this year’s competition

Nominated clubs:

AFC Fylde – for their 9-0 Third Qualifying Round home win over Coleshill Town

Chesham United – for their 1-0 win away at League Two Bristol Rovers in Round One

Coleshill Town – for their 11-0 Extra Preliminary Round home win over Ellesmere Rangers

Didcot Town – for their 4-3 Preliminary Round win at Wantage Town having been 3-0 down with just 20 minutes remaining

South Park – for their 10-1 Preliminary Round win away at Holmesdale

Westfields – for their Preliminary Round replay win at Kidsgrove Athletic scoring a last minute goal to win 6-5 after extra time after having been 4-0 down at half time.

Worthing – for their 6-5 penalty shoot-out win over St Neots Town in the Second Qualifying Round



FACTA awarded to the club which produced the most unexpected result or Cup run

Nominated clubs:

Brockenhurst – for reaching Third Qualifying Round beating higher league opposition twice

Chesham United – for their 1-0 win away at League Two Bristol Rovers in Round One

Hinckley AFC – for making the Second Qualifying Round in their first FA Cup campaign including a 2-1 win over Redditch United, a club three steps above them in the pyramid

Hoddesdon Town – for reaching Third Qualifying Round beating higher league opposition twice

Hook Norton – for reaching Second Qualifying Round as a Step 6 club in only second ever Cup campaign

Whitehawk – for reaching the ‘Proper’ rounds of the Cup for the first time ever



FACTA awarded to the club who epitomised the spirit of the FA Cup

Nominated clubs:

FC United of Manchester – for their stance regarding kick-off times for FA Cup matches

Grays Athletic – for their amusing posters promoting FA Cup matches

Hartley Wintney – for their spirit and performances against higher level teams

Sporting Khalsa – for their preparations for hosting FC United of Manchester in Fourth Qualifying Round

Do leave a comment to vote in one or more of these awards

My Non-League FA Cup Journey 2015

Here’s a short review and a smattering of snapshots of my journey attending 2015/16 FA Cup matches across the Non-League community. This season I set up this blog and @FACupFactfile on Twitter to promote positive achievements from all clubs in the competition from August to May.

It all began at Hoddesdon Town on Friday 14th August, 2015, a full nine months and thirteen rounds before the FA Cup final itself. The Lilywhites won the match 4-0 against their Essex Senior League opponents, and went on to add the scalps of Romford, Ashford Town and Sittingbourne before succumbing to Step Three opposition in the shape of Brentwood Town in the Third Qualifying Round. It turned out to be the clubs best FA Cup run for 46 years.

Hoddesdon Town v Sawbridgeworth Town Programme

Next up it was a 400+ mile round trip to visit Nelson of the North West Counties Premier League. This visit had specific significance to me as it not only co-incided with ticking off my 100th different football ground, but it was also the first occasion that one of my FA Cup blogs was incorporated into a match-day programme. In fact two articles actually made it into this programme and in to many other Extra Preliminary Round match programmes that day, too.At Nelson-page-001

A very memorable day for me unfortunately did not turn out to be as memorable for my hosts as Northern League Division One side Newton Aycliffe produced a second successive 4-0 result for me, a result that acted as a springboard for The Newts who went on their way to setting a new club record by reaching the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Cup for the first time. The day didn’t end for me at the final whistle, though, as I was contacted on my way back by BBC Five Live’s The Non-League Show with a request to be interviewed for that evening’s show, to be aired the next morning. I made it back home in time for the interview, thanks to seasoned groundhopper Laurence Reade’s excellent driving, and enjoyed discussing my FA Cup Factfile with Liam Bradford who was standing in for Caroline Barker.

My experience of Friday night FA Cup football in the Preliminary Round almost didn’t happen as major accidents on both the M4 and the A34 on that Bank Holiday weekend meant my expected 40 minute journey to Sholing took nearly three times as long to get there, and the away side, Swindon Supermarine, were in danger of not making it all. Thankfully everyone had allowed enough time to ensure the match went ahead. The first person I met on arrival, though, was not a football supporter but a pigeon fancier attending a meeting at the Vosper Thorneycroft Pigeon Club, sited in the grounds of the sports complex, complete with pigeons in tow.SAM_1024.JPG

A very entertaining game ended with six goals and Supermarine winning 4-2, although this wasn’t to be a platform for a great Cup run as The Marines came undone in the very next round losing 4-0 at home to Winchester. However, all the folks at Sholing made it a fabulous experience for me, including inviting me into the board-room for pre-match and half-time drinks.

The next day was my wedding anniversary, but that didn’t stop me from attending an FA Cup match. My wife and I spent the morning in Liphook looking at potential racehorses, one of which we would be ‘owners for one day’ as a birthday gift. Scouring the Preliminary Round fixtures I determined that this half day experience could be fitted in with a trip to Farnham Town on our return, who were hosting Highworth Town. My better half is not keen on attending football matches, but Farnham was also a favourite town from her youth, so she just about accepted the idea of us doing something different for part of our anniversary day.

Inside the Farnham Town Clubhouse

Farnham town centre proved not to have enough to keep her occupied for the full two hours I was at the ground, so she did make a rare, very exceptional visit to join me pitch-side for the last 20 minutes of the Cup tie won 4-2 by the home side. I’m not sure she enjoyed it as much as I did, but now I can no longer say that she hasn’t ever spent time with me on my hobby. A second successive six-goal thriller meant that I had witnessed 20 goals in my four FA Cup matches so far. I might not have always been able to bring luck to my hosts, but I definitely could bring entertainment to my fellow supporters.

A week or so before the First Qualifying Round I was invited to attend the Bedfont and Feltham versus AFC Rushden and Diamonds tie by the secretary, match programme editor and Twitter Account manager of the Bedfont club. It was a fantastic gesture and one which I agreed to readily, although I did have one specific caveat: access to their Wi-Fi so I could submit results that I collate for the North Berks Football League to BBC Radio Oxford for their transmission before six o’clock. This turned out to require me to be stationed in an ante-room next to the club’s board-room, a room used by the club treasurer for counting the revenue from the gate who hadn’t been informed I’d be there.22 Bedfont

In the match itself The Diamonds made the two league difference between the two teams count and won a tight encounter 2-1, going on from here to reach the Fourth Qualifying Round for the first time ever in their history. As for Bedfont and Feltham, they provided an excellent post-match bar-be-cue and drinks reception which I ruefully had to leave before enjoying to the full.29 Bedfont

My goals-per-game average had been reduced slightly, but that was quickly addressed when I attended a replay involving the team closest to my home that partake in the FA Cup, Didcot Town. The Railwaymen had come back from three down with 20 minutes to go in the previous round to defeat Wantage Town and had held Isthmian League Premier side VCD Athletic to a one-one draw in the first match of this round. This time the club again had to come back after initially being behind, but eventually won this ding-dong tie 4-3 with yet another late winner. This result not only became part of an amazing run for the South Oxfordshire side all the way to the First Round Proper for the first time in their history (scoring 19 goals in the process), but also re-established my goals-per-game average back up to five.

For the Second Qualifying Round I decided to visit Hook Norton FC, a club who had only ever appeared in the Extra Preliminary Round of the competition some five years previously, and were now being pitted against a National League South side in the shape of Weston-super-Mare. And how glad I was that I did. It’s fair to say that the welcome I received from all clubs I visited this season in the FA Cup was as friendly and as warm as it possibly could be, but if I had to single out one club for the way they embraced me (a complete stranger) then it has to be Hook Norton. The club is sited in a beautiful north Oxfordshire village and it appeared that the whole village had turned out to watch the match.WIN_20150926_134124

I spent time before the game getting to know those involved in running the club and couldn’t help but be in awe of the commitment and enthusiasm there was for the club, and for making sure their big day went off as best as possible. From a cricket hut acting as a beer cellar to the chairman posing for a photo with the tem-sheet on a small white-board, there was something particularly quirky about this Step Six club. In the end, despite matching their higher league opponents for most of the match, the club went down 2-1, although they scored the best goal I saw live this season when equalising late on in the game.

Long-standing family commitments meant that I was unable to attend a Third Qualifying Round match, and so my next trip was for the following Fourth Qualifying tie between Chesham United and Enfield Town. The visitors were celebrating setting a new milestone in their own FA Cup history whilst the Generals were looking to make it to the First Round Proper for the first time in 21 years.WIN_20151024_150127

In the end it wasn’t a spectacular match, although the right team won 2-1 on the day, and it was played in a great spirit watched by two sets of fans happy to be involved. It’s testament to the friendly nature of many clubs in the non-league pyramid that when clubs elect to change ends after the coin-toss, both sets of fans can walk around to the opposite end of the pitch, cross each other’s paths, completely without incident. The Enfield Town Ultras were very vocal, but the atmosphere was always one of joviality and jocularity.WIN_20151024_145843

For my First Round Proper match I wanted to watch a club that was experiencing this far into the competition for the first time in their history. I was able to see Salford City courtesy of the BBC so I opted to attend Barwell versus Welling United instead. I’d heard the club made the best tasting burgers in non-league football so that was a nice extra incentive to visit them. Despite a difficult trip, I made it to the ground in plenty of time where a parking space had been reserved for me, and headed straight for a burger. It did not disappoint (a point I made on an American internet radio show the following week). It was definitely the best non-league burger I had tasted, but (and this is a big but) Barwell was only the 85th non-league ground I’d visited and there are at least 6,000 others I’ve yet to experience.WIN_20151107_135952

As for the game, it wasn’t to be for the home side, commendably bowing out just 2-0 to the National League side, and all the players and officials can be proud of setting a new benchmark in FA Cup glory for the club.

There was only one tie to attend in the Second Round, the all non-league encounter between Stourbridge and Eastleigh. Not only was this the only Second Round tie between two non-league clubs, but whichever side won would be reaching the Third Round for the first time in their history. Despite it being the biggest game Stourbridge had ever put on, and despite having to accommodate BBC coverage at noon before the game kicked off, the club still found time to greet me upon arrival and invite me into the inner echelons of their club house, which had been taken over for the day by the media and priority club sponsors. Another non-league club full of generous spirit.WIN_20151205_131013

Because of demand for tickets I was in with the Spitfires fans, but this didn’t spoil my experience, and in a way because they won the match 2-0 I managed to get the best of all worlds at the match. By winning the game, Eastleigh became the only non-league side to progress to the Third Round Proper, the first time this has happened since 1969, and will host Championship side Bolton Wanderers. Hopes will be high that they can overcome this financially struggling club, and I’m sure the majority of non-league fan, clubs and officials will be willing them to do just that.WIN_20151205_145909

The FACTAs – The @FACupFactfile Team Awards

Launching the FACTAs

(The @FACupFactfile Team Awards)

I started tweeting and blogging under the name @FACupFactfile at the beginning of the 2015/16 season (having trialled interest through the excellent @TheRealFACup) and have amassed almost 2,500 followers on Twitter in the first half of the season.

There is obviously an appetite for facts about the FA Cup and the enthusiasm from Twitter users is most prevalent amongst those who follow the non-league game. Six hundred and Forty Four non-league clubs entered the FA Cup this year from the National League right down to Step Six Leagues such as Hellenic League Division One and Northern League Division Two, and I have tried to share and promote the exploits of all these teams as they were whittled down from that 644 to the forty who made it through to the First Round ‘Proper’ (as it is so insultingly called by the FA).

To commemorate all the great memories that this swarm of non-league clubs provide for both loyal fans and other interested parties, I’ve decided to launch my own awards, The @FACupFactfile Team Awards, or FACTAs for short. These awards are focussed on team achievements and recognise the contribution Non-League clubs make as a whole to the success of the FA Cup, an unrivalled and best Cup competition in the world, because of their involvement.

There are four awards in this inaugural year and I’d welcome nominations from my Twitter followers (and beyond) for teams who should be considered for each award. The awards are:

Team of the Cup – which club has had the biggest positive impact on this season’s competition?

Performance of the Cup – which club produced the most memorable single performance this year?

Surprise of the Cup – which club produced the most unexpected result, performance or Cup run?

Special Team Award – which club went above and beyond to really show what the FA Cup means?

I plan to determine the shortlist in early January 2016 and announce the winners some time later that month. So if you want to be involved and you want your club to be one of the inaugural winners of these awards, then please let me know your nominations with a short explanation as to why you are nominating them. Use the hashtag #FACTAs

Who will be the first recipient of the Team of the Year FACTA?

Non-League Clubs in FA Cup 3rd Round

So, National League side Eastleigh is the only representative of Non-League in the 2015/16 FA Cup Third Round. This is the first time since 1968/69 that just one non-league club has made it as far as the Third Round (then it was Kettering Town), and only the ninth time just one club has made it since the current structure of the competition was put in place. (No non-league clubs actually appeared in the Third Round on another occasion).

If you have even the basic knowledge of FA Cup facts you are likely to be aware that Tottenham Hotspur is the only non-league club ever to lift the FA Cup, winning the trophy in the 1900/01 season beating Football League Division One side Sheffield United 3-1 in a replay, whilst still a Southern League club. For those turn-of-the-20th Century FA Cup competitions, the Southern League standard was considered almost an equal to the Football League, if not better. In that season Spurs won the Cup for the first time, despite being a non-league club, they didn’t actually enter the competition until the First Round ‘Proper’. Their current north London rivals, still known then as Woolwich Arsenal, were plying their trade in Football League Division Two and actually had to partake in the short-lived Intermediate Round, having to beat Darwen 2-0 to progress to the ‘Proper’ rounds.

The structure of the competition as we know it today first came about for the 1925/26 season, although it wasn’t until the 1951/52 season that it finally adopted the format we now recognise with 80 clubs in Round One and 40 in Round Two, with the 20 winners of that round joining the top 44 clubs in the country in the Third Round. Back in 1925 the Amateur Cup finalists were exempt until the First Round of the FA Cup, and Corinthians were exempt until the Third Round. The Corinthians exemption ceased seven years later, but up to four non-league clubs were still exempt until the First Round right up to the 1987-88 season.

Since that 1925/26 season there has been only one occasion when no non-league sides appeared in the Third Round (1950/51) although the exempted Corinthians were the only representatives in the 1929/30 season. The most clubs to make it through to Round Three is eight in 2008/09 season with Kidderminster Harriers, Blyth Spartans, Torquay United, Forest Green Rovers, Eastwood Town, Kettering Town, Barrow and Histon all making it through. They would have been joined by Droylsden if they hadn’t been adjudged to have played an ineligible player in their replay win over Chesterfield. It could be argued that the 1945/46 season had the highest number of non-league clubs in the Third Round given that League football hadn’t re-started following the Second World War. The only ‘true’ non-league side in that Third Round was Welsh club Lovell’s Athletic. Bizarrely, the Welsh League did re-convene for the 1945/46 season so in one sense they were the only League club in the Third Round that year. (See below chart for year-by-year details of all non-league clubs appearing in the Third Round).

So, it will be down to the Spitfires to fly the flag for non-league football in 2015-16. A home tie against bottom of the Championship and financially struggling Bolton Wanderers is eminently winnable and so Eastleigh could become the 44th non-league side to make the Fourth Round. To go all the way to becoming the second non-league winners of the FA Cup, though, is probably a stretch too far.

Nb. 1946/47 should read ‘1 Gillingham’

Non League Clubs in 3rd Round-page-001

FA Cup 3rd Round Preview

Watford (PL) v Newcastle United (PL) – Met three times in FA Cup before with Newcastle up 2 -1 in wins, although the game which The Hornets won in 1988/89 was at the fourth time of asking. Newcastle have lost their last three Third Round ties whilst the last 4 seasons saw Watford knocked out in 4th, 3rd, 4th and 3rd Rounds.

West Bromwich Albion (PL) v Bristol City (FLC) – The clubs have met just twice in the competition both times won by The Baggies, 4-2 in 1910 after a replay and 4-1 in 1926.

West Ham United (PL) v Wolverhampton Wanderers (FLC) – One of several Third Round ties pitting former winners against each other. These clubs have also met just twice in FA Cup with The Hammers winning both times convincingly 5-1 in 1910 and 3-1 in 2004. Wolves have lost their last five FA Cup ties.

Hartlepool United (FL2) v Derby County (FLC) – The clubs have met just once before in the FA Cup in the First Round back in 1985 with Hartlepool actually winning 2-1. Hartlepool are just one round away from equalling their best ever Cup run.

Exeter City (FL2) v Liverpool (PL) – Despite never have met in the League the clubs have faced each other once before in the FA Cup, a 1949/50 Fourth Round tie which the Reds won 3-1 on their way to the final that year. Liverpool has not lost in the Third Round for five years whilst the Grecians haven’t even been this far for 11 years and it was 1981 the last time the club went any further, that year making it to a personal best of the Quarter Finals.

Tottenham Hotspur (PL) v Leicester City (PL) – The most common match-up of the Third Round and the only tie of the round repeating a Cup Final, the 1961 Final which Spurs won 2-0. Of the 10 times the clubs have met in the Cup in the past Spurs have the upper hand having won seven of them, although the first meeting in 1913/14 season ended in a 5-5 draw when Leicester still had the Fosse moniker.

Colchester United (FL1) v Charlton Athletic (FLC) – The clubs have met just once in FA Cup before, a Third Round tie 32 years ago won 1-0 by The Addicks. The Us will be hoping to go beyond the Third Round for the first time in 10 years.

Peterborough United (FL1) v Preston North End (FLC) – Despite 195 FA Cup campaigns between them this will be the first meeting between the two clubs in the competition. The Posh will be looking to make the Fourth Round for the first time in eight years.

Northampton Town (FL2) v MK Dons (FLC) – The first FA Cup encounter between the two teams (although The Cobblers did beat Wimbledon 2-0 in a First Round replay in 1982/83). Both clubs best performance in the FA Cup is reaching the 5th Round and Northampton has made it this far for the first time in 10 years (two further years since going further).

Arsenal (PL) v Sunderland (PL) – The Gunners are looking for a record equalling third successive FA Cup triumph, a feat achieved only twice before in the 19th Century by The Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers. They start their campaign against a club who has won 4 of their previous seven meetings, including the last time the two teams met in the competition in the 5th Round 2012.

Newport County (FL2) v Blackburn Rovers (FLC) – The Exiles are into the Third Round for the first time since re-forming in 1989, and it’s a further three years since the previous club made it this far. This will be the first FA Cup meeting between the two clubs in either guise. Rovers last four knock-outs have been QF, 3rd Round, QF, 3rd Round.

Ipswich Town (FLC) v Portsmouth (FL2) – The two clubs have been drawn together just twice before both times in the Third Round, both time this Century, both times at Portman Road, and both times Pompey came away with a 1-0 victory. Ipswich has lost their last five Third Round matches whilst Portsmouth are in the Third Round for first time in four years.

Birmingham City (FLC) v AFC Bournemouth (PL) – This will be the first ever FA Cup meeting between the two clubs despite 218 campaigns between them. Both clubs made it to the Fourth Round in each of the last two seasons.

Wycombe Wanderers (FL2) v Aston Villa (PL) – This will be the first FA Cup meeting between the two clubs. The Chairboys haven’t been beyond the Third Round since going all the way to the Semi-Finals in 2001.

Sheffield Wednesday (FLC) v Fulham (FLC) – Four FA Cup meetings between the clubs with honours even at two wins apiece and with all four meetings happening in the Third Round. Fulham hasn’t failed to go beyond the Third Round for eight years.

Oxford United (FL2) v Swansea City (PL) – Just one previous meeting in the FA Cup back in 1993 eventually won by The Swans on penalties after two drawn matches. The Us haven’t gone beyond the Third Round this Century doing so for the last time in 1999.

Brentford (FLC) v Walsall (FL1) – The clubs have met three times in the FA Cup in the past and Brentford won each one of them 1-0, once after a replay. The Saddlers looking to make the Fourth Rpund for the first time in 10 years.

Bury (FL1) v Bradford City (FL1) – Two previous meetings in the FA Cup between the two teams with one win each. The Bantams became the latest third tier team to make the FA Cup Quarter Finals last season, whilst The Shakers are into the Third Round for the first time in eight years.

Manchester United (PL) v Sheffield United (FL1) – Whilst Manchester United has won three of the four FA Cup meetings between the two clubs, the Blades have actually won more than twice as many FA Cup ties over the past four years than their Premier League opponents (15 versus 7). The Blades are also the last third tier side to make it to the Semi-Finals just two years ago.

Everton (PL) v Dagenham and Redbridge (FL2) – This will be the first FA Cup meeting between the two clubs. The Daggers are looking to make the 4th Round for only the second time and first time in 13 years.

Southampton (PL) v Crystal Palace (PL) – This will be the seventh FA Cup meeting between the two clubs with Palace currently up four wins to two, including a Fourth Round 3-2 win last season.

Eastleigh (NL) v Bolton Wanderers (FLC) – Unsurprisingly this is the first FA Cup meeting between the two clubs given that The Spitfires are into the Third Round for the first time ever in what is their 39th FA Cup campaign. Bolton hasn’t failed to go beyond the Third Round for seven years.

Nottingham Forest (FLC) v Queen’s Park Rangers (FLC) – Forest has beaten QPR in each of their three previous FA Cup meetings, twice after a replay. QPR have one of the worst recent FA Cup records having won just four Cup ties over the last 18 seasons.

Carlisle United (FL2) v Yeovil Town (FL2) – First ever FA Cup meeting between these two fourth tier clubs. The Cumbrians are hoping to make the Fourth Round for the first time since 1997.

Chelsea (PL) v Scunthorpe United (FL1) – One previous meeting in 2004/05 won 3-1 by Chelsea. The Blues have not failed to go beyond the Third Round in 18 years, whereas the Iron has not progressed to the Fourth Round since 2010.

Doncaster Rovers (FL1) v Stoke City (PL) – Just one previous FA Cup meeting between the two clubs won 1-0 by Doncaster Rovers in a Third Round tie in 1930. Stoke hasn’t failed to go beyond the Third Round for seven years whilst Rovers hasn’t made the Fourth Round for six.

Leeds United (FLC) v Rotherham United (FLC) – One previous FA Cup meeting, a Third Round tie in 1970/71 that Leeds won 3-2 after a replay. Rotherham hasn’t been beyond the Third Round for 14 years.

Cardiff City (FLC) v Shrewsbury Town (FL1) – First FA Cup meeting between the two sides. Shrewsbury have not gone beyond the Third Round for 13 years.

Huddersfield Town (FLC) v Reading (FLC) – Met twice before in the FA Cup, both times won by Reading, including a 1-0 Third Round win last season.

Middlesbrough (FLC) v Burnley (FLC) – The clubs have met twice in the FA Cup before, both times won by Burnley. However, the Clarets have lost each of their last four Third Round ties.

Norwich City (PL) v Manchester City (PL) – This will be the fourth meeting in the FA Cup between the two clubs with Manchester City up by two wins to one and with a goal aggregate of 12-2. The Canaries lost in the Third Round in each of the last two seasons.

Hull City (FLC) v Brighton and Hove Albion (FLC) – Three previous meetings in the FA Cup sees the Seagulls with a two to one win advantage, although the Tigers won their last meeting in the 5th Round two years ago on their way to the final. Brighton has gone beyond the Third Round in each of the last six seasons.

FA Cup Second Round Review

So, not the most glorious weekend for Non-League clubs in this year’s FA Cup second round, with only one club definitely through to the Third Round and three others who took League teams to a replay in vain.

Eastleigh, of course, are in the third round for the first time in their history and are the only non-league club to make it that far this season, and they should be commended for being so, but as great an achievement as that is, we would have been saying the same about Stourbridge if they had won their match. And the Spitfires were favourites of the two to progress anyway. Stourbridge can console themselves with having equalled their own best performance in the FA Cup for the third time in five seasons.

Salford City, now officially the lowest placed side left in the competition and Whitehawk, both brilliantly came from behind against League opposition (Hartlepool United and Dagenham & Redbridge respectively), the latter in dramatic fashion deservedly equalising in injury time, to live to fight another day. Both will be hoping to have the added incentive of a Premier League club to drive them to victory over their respective League Two opponents in their replays. Both these clubs have already set new personal bests in the FA Cup just by being in the Second Round, but making it to the glamour of the Third Round would be something else. The Ammies finally went down to two extra time goals, but the players and the club can be proud of setting a new personal best in the FA Cup reaching the Second Round, three rounds further than their previous best. The Hawks also finally lost 3-2 in extra time after once again equalising in injury time of the replay. Like Salford City, Whitehawk has also set a new personal best in the Cup having only ever reached the 4th Qualifying Round previously.

The fourth non-league club still in the proverbial hat is former League club Grimsby Town, who won’t actually kick-off their Second Round tie until after the Third Round draw has been made. It’s a less than satisfactory way of making it to the Third Round draw, but they will go into their game against Shrewsbury Town knowing who their likely opponents would be if they won. As they beat Shrewsbury 4-0 last time they met in 1997/98 season, The Mariners might be quietly confident of joining Eastleigh. As it happened the first game ended goalless. In the end the Mariners were undone in the replay by an injury time winner for Shrewsbury.

There were a couple of oh-so-nears and heartbreak for non-league clubs as both Northwich Victoria and Altrincham both fell to last minute winners after previously having been ahead during the match. The Vics had led 2-0 and were looking to be the first eighth tier club to make the Third Round since Chasetown in 2008, but in the end Northampton Town turned it around in the last 10 minutes. Still, seven FA Cup ties in one season is still more than the eventual winners will compete in. Altincham had led Colchester United twice, scoring goals at the beginning of each half, only to be pegged back almost straight away both times. A golden opportunity missed at the end of the match was punished in the cruellest of fashions as Colchester went down the other end to score the winner.

Chesham United and Welling United will both have heavy defeats on their respective FA Cup records (4-0 at Bradford City and 5-0 versus Carlisle United respectively), but final scores can often belie what has actually gone on in the match itself. Sure, in both instances the League sides were always the better of the two teams throughout each game, but it wasn’t until fairly late on that the games were out of the reach of the non-league club. And Forest Green Rovers gave a good account of themselves against League Two leaders Oxford United going down 1-0 but coming close to scoring on several occasions.

There were still a couple of surprising results over the weekend despite the lack of non-league giant killing. Wycombe Wanderers from League Two beat Millwall from League One .. again. The last time they met in the FA Cup was 2000/01 season, the last time that Millwall failed to go beyond the Second Round. League Two side Exeter City also won 2-0 against League One Port Vale to participate in the Third Round for the first time in 11 years. The Grecians have now won one more FA Cup tie this year than in the last seven years put together. Bottom of League Two Yeovil Town put their league form behind them to progress 1-0 at the expense of Stevenage, and Bury won 1-0 at fellow League One side Rochdale to make it to the Third Round for the first time in eight years. Newport County won 1-0 as well at fellow League Two side Barnet, to move the Exiles into the Third Round since the club re-formed in 1989, and lay to rest the ghost of the 6-1 defeat of the original club by Barnet in 1970 when the Bees were a non-league side, the second biggest margin of victory by a non-league club over a League one.

All the other ties where there was a winner might have been expected. Peterborough United dominated in their 2-0 home win over Luton Town to avenge their defeat by the same opponents in the Third Round 33 years ago when The Hatters were a top flight team. Portsmouth beat Accrington Stanley 1-0, Pompey being another club who have won more FA Cup ties this year than they had done over the past six years, and Sheffield United beat Oldham Athletic by the same scoreline. The Blades have one of the best winning ratios in the FA Cup over the past five years, never failing to make the 4th Round as a third tier club, with only Arsenal winning more ‘Proper’ round FA Cup matches over that same period. Doncaster Rovers came from behind against lower league opponents Cambridge United, but in the end won comfortably.

League Two Leyton Orient will get another chance to cause an upset against League One Scunthorpe United, but the League One side proved too strong in the replay winning 3-0, and Chesterfield and Walsall will go again after drawing one each. These two sides are no strangers in the FA Cup having met six times previously in the competition, but Walsall have the upper hand having won the previous five. Walsall made it six FA Cup wins to one with a 5-3 penalties win after the sides were locked at 0-0 after 120 minutes in the replay.

So not a vintage FA Cup year for non-league clubs, but with luck others will join Eastleigh to keep the romance of the competition alive. Otherwise it’ll be the south coast club left to fly the non-league flag.