FA Cup First Round: This week’s non-league review comes in the form of an FA Cup special.
With just one match in the Skrill Premier last weekend, all eyes were on the non-league teams attempting to make round two. From the giant killers of last year – Luton Town and Macclesfield Town – to Shortwood United, the lowest ranked team left in this year’s competition, coming from the Southern Football League Division One South & West.
‘The Woods’ as they are known, play in the eighth tier of English football, and will face trips to the likes of Bishop’s Cleeve, Paulton Rovers and Swindon Supermarine this season. But on Monday they welcome League One Port Vale to the Meadowbank Ground, looking for the most unlikely of upsets.
It wasn’t to be however, as Jennison Myrie-Williams scored twice to ease Vale through. The visitors took the lead when the striker fired home across keeper Tim King, after Tom pope picked him out.
And they doubled their advantage when King parried Pope’s effort, allowing Christ Birchall to tap into the net inside half an hour.
Myrie-Williams scored a penalty and then set up Chris Lines’ stoppage time header as Vale added two further late goals.
The result was slightly harsh on Shortwood, who had never been in the FA Cup proper before and were playing in front of a club-record 1,300 crowd – a sell-out, and a stark contrast to their average gate of around 120. Tickets went inside an hour when put on sale a week earlier, with fans queuing outside the stadium.
Ranked 125 places below their visitors in the footballing pyramid, United actually had the first chance of the match, with striker Duncan Culley seeing his first minute effort blocked, but eventually quality tolled, and the host’s four month adventure came to an end.
Port Valewill face Salisbury City of the Skrill Premier in round two. The Whites dispatched league rivals Dartford last weekend, with the 4-2 result in-line with the two side’s contrasting league form.
Dan Fitchett scored twice as the home side emerged victorious from an entertaining tie: slotting home the opener from close range and netting the fourth with a header.
Ben Wright and Elliott Frear also found the net as the hosts led 3-0 at the half time break. Lee Burns and Max Cornhill scored the visitors second half consolations.
Salisbury are not the only non-league team guaranteed a place in round two. Macclesfield Town were the big winners as they dispatched League One Swindon Town 4-0. It’s the second year in a row the Silkmen have dispatched the third tier side from the competition.
The Skrill Premier’s leading goal-scorer – Connor Jennings – was at the heart of the home side’s success, again suggesting that his parent club Scunthorpe have perhaps missed a trick in letting him go out on loan.
Jennings opened the scoring when his turn and shot found the bottom corner. Scott Boden doubled the lead when he latched onto a through ball and slotted into the corner, before Jennings completed his brace with a close-range finish. Peter Winn rounded off a convincing victory in the closing moments. In fact, it could have been more if it were not for the exploits of Robins’ goalkeeper Tyrell Belford, who prevented a total embarrassment.
Victory for Macclesfield, over a side 55 places above them on the football ladder, was their seventh in the last nine games and maintains their unbeaten record against Swindon in the competition.
Town manager Mark Cooper told BBC Wiltshire he felt “physically sick” after the defeat. He also revealed that: “We’ve agreed to cover the cost of the fans that travelled.”
“Not because we’re creeping, it’s a gesture of appreciation,” he added. “I just made sure the players knew it was unacceptable.”
Macclesfield will face struggling League One side Gillingham or Skrill North side Brackley in round two, after the side’s played out a draw last weekend.
The Saints came close to a stunning upset against the Gills, taking the lead in the 69th minute through Joe Martin’s own goal. But Bradley Dack rescued the home side in the seventh minute of injury time, volleying home Adebayo Akinfenwa’s header to prevent their visitors reaching the second round for the first time.
Tamworth did progress against league opposition, as they continued their impressive FA Cup tradition by beating Cheltenham 1-0. Nick Chadwick’s early goal was the difference, and the Lambs will face Bristol City in round two.
Kidderminster Harriers, Welling United, Wrexham, Dover Athletic, and minnows Stourbridge are also in the hat for round two. The Harriers defeated Sutton United 4-1, the Wings surprised Luton 2-1, the Dragons eased past Alfreton Town 3-1, Dover defeated Corby Town 2-1, and Stourbridge beat Biggleswade Town 4-1, in the battle of the tier seven sides.
Several non-league teams also face replays. Boreham Wood held League One Carlisle United to a draw first time out, their match ending goalless, Grimsby Town played out the same scoreline with Scunthorpe and Braintree will play again after drawing 1-1 with Newport County, who needed Tom Naylor’s deflected shot to cancel out Chez Isaac’s goal for the Iron. Lincoln City also held Plymouth Argyle 0-0 last weekend, while Gateshead were denied a famous victory against Oxford City by a stoppage time leveller from Danny Rose. Their match finished 2-2.
Some non-league sides were not so lucky in their round one tie’s and felt the full wrath of league side’s on top form. St Albans City took the lead against League Two Mansfield Town, before eventually being crushed 8-1, Sam Clucas scoring four times in the final 16 minutes.
Staines Town (0-5), Barnet (0-6) and Halifax (1-4) were on the end of similar thrashings at the hands of Brentford, Preston North End and MK Dons respectively, while a battling Bishop’s Stortford were beaten 2-1 by Northampton Town.
Lowly Daventry Town put up an excellent fight before eventually going down 2-0 at Chesterfield, Gloucester City went down by the same score at home to League Two pacesetters Fleetwood Town, and former giant killers Crawley Town narrowly avoided being on the wrong end of a shock, as they edged past Skrill North side Hednesford Town 2-1.
Meanwhile, leaders of the Skrill Premier, Cambridge United, have the proverbial dangled carrot of a match with Sheffield United, if they can beat Bury. The U’s first match with the Shakers was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.
Elsewhere in Non-League
In the solitary Skrill Premier game of last weekend, Chester came from behind to win 2-1 at bottom the table Hyde in a relegation six pointer: Craig Lindfield and Craig Mahon netting either side of half-time to cancel out Louis Almond’s early opener. Chester rise one place in the table to 21st and are now only in the bottom four on goal difference. The Tigers meanwhile remain winless and ten points adrift of second bottom Aldershot Town.
Eastleigh defeated Farnborough 1-0 in Skrill South to move within a point of leaders Eastleigh, although Bishops Stortford will leapfrog both sides if they win their two games in hand. Hayes & Yeading’s 3-2 victory over Whitehawk at Kingfield moved them into the playoff places at the expense of Sutton. Basingstoke stayed fourth with a 1-0 win over Maidenhead United.
North Ferriby United missed the opportunity to move into second place in Skrill North as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Barrow. Boston United and Solihull Moors were the next highest ranked teams in action last weekend due to the FA Cup, with the former overtaking the latter into fifth place after a 2-1 victory over Colwyn Bay. Solihull could only manage a 1-1 draw with Workington.
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