Football Management & Technology

Emirates FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round Preview

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Date: Thu 13 Oct 2022

By Steve Whitney

This Saturday sees several clubs in the Pitching In Southern Football League involved in Emirates FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round action.

And several are hoping to be Saturday evening heroes after causing upsets!

There are three Step 5 clubs looking to make probably even bigger headlines as Anstey Nomads, Bury AFC and Ashington go looking to cause big shocks, while there are also four Step 4 teams left in Isthmian League South East Division outfits Sevenoaks Town and Beckenham Town, Northern Premier League Division One East side Worksop Town and Robbie O’Keefe’s Division One Central Biggleswade Town side.

The Waders started their cup run back on August 20th when they saw off Thurlow Nunn League side Whitton United 4-1 at the Yvette Brewer Stadium.

A tricky trip to Northern Premier League Division One Midlands side Dereham Town was overcome with a Harry Draper goal and then Isthmian North hosts East Thurrock United were beaten 3-0 with Charlie Smith bagging a brace.

That win earned O’Keefe’s men a tough away tie at Billericay Town, relegated from the Vanarama National League South at the end of last season.

And after a thrilling 3-3 draw at New Lodge, the Waders produced their first upset by beating the Essex side 3-0 at home, courtesy of two from Jon Clements.

That win set Biggleswade up with an away trip to last season’s Premier Division South play-off winners Farnborough.

Spencer Day’s side have lost seven of their eleven league games in the National League South but won last Saturday against fellow new boys Worthing and reached the Fourth Qualifying Round after inflicting a 5-1 hammering on Premier Division South side Swindon Supermarine on their own Webbswood Stadium – that coming after winning a replay at Hayes & Yeading United – the team they beat in the play-off final – in the Second Qualifying Round.

Six Southern League clubs have home draws.

Premier Division South side Merthyr Town will fancy their chances of going into the First Round hat after being drawn at the Met Coaches Stadium to Isthmian League Premier Division outfit Folkestone Invicta.

Invicta finished just outside the play-off places last season in sixth and have Neil Cugley now in his 26th season as the club’s manager and by end of last season had completed 1,282 games in charge.

He became the longest-serving manager in the top seven tiers of English football when Arsene Wenger left Arsenal at the end of the 2017/18 season.

In contrast, the Martyrs` boss Paul Michael was only appointed in April 2022 and initially failed to keep them up before they received a reprieve due to the sad demise of Walton Casuals.

Folkestone have beaten Combined Counties Leaguers North Greenford United, Isthmian South East side Chichester City and, most impressively, National League South hosts Dulwich Hamlet 1-0, thanks to an Adam Yusuff effort.

Merthyr, like Invicta, sitting mid-table in their division, enjoyed a terrific 5-2 win over league rivals Truro City at home in the First Qualifying Round but it took a replay to see off Division One Central strugglers Cirencester Town in the next round.

Like the Martyrs` visitors though, they beat National League opponents in the last round in North section side Gloucester City, 1-0 away, courtesy of a stoppage time Lewis Powell goal.

Premier Division Central club Alvechurch, who have enjoyed some renowned cup runs over the years, have a great chance to progress when they host Northern Premier Division One East side Worksop Town at Lye Meadow.

The Tigers started their cup run at the Preliminary Round stage when they beat Toolstation Northern Counties East League side AFC Mansfield.

Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division Worcester Raiders were beaten 5-0 in the next round and then Worksop caused an upset in the Second Qualifying Round by knocking out National League North side Brackley Town out 2-0 at St James`s Park with former Republic of Ireland international midfielder Paul Green and Jack Broadhead.

Green was on target again as the Tigers won 1-0 at NPL Premier Division Gainsborough Trinity to reach the Fourth Qualifying Round.

Ian Long’s Church side have had a mixed start to their league campaign but have seen off league rivals Mickleover and Nuneaton Borough sandwiched by a 1-0 win at NPL Division One Midlands new boys Harborough Town to set up the tie with Worksop.

When the draw was made, Premier Division Central club St Ives Town must have fancied their chances of causing an upset as they were paired at home against the team who, at the time, were propping up the National League table, FC Halifax Town.

However, since then, the Shaymen have picked up a win against high flying York City and drew with Maidstone United to move out of the relegation zone.

The Saints reached this stage with a home win over Essex Senior Leaguers Barking, and away success in Essex against Isthmian Premier side Canvey Island and a 3-1 Westwood Road victory over an NPL Division One Midlands Chasetown side who are not unused to FA Cup glory themselves.

St Ives` league rivals Needham Market also welcome a National League outfit in Maidstone United.

Kevin Horlock’s Marketmen are sixth in the table at present and going well, having seen off league rivals Leiston, Thurlow Nunn Leaguers Sheringham and Isthmian Premier side Brightlingsea Regent in the cup.

The Stones, under Hakan Hayrettin, have found it tough going since winning the National League South title last season and returning to the top of the non-League Pyramid for the first time since 2019.

And they head to Bloomfields on a run of seven games without a win, which will encourage Horlock’s men.

It’s been a strange season for Premier Division South club Hendon to date.

Lee Allinson’s side have only managed one win in the league so far in nine attempts but have done well in the cup.

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division Potton United were comfortably seen off at The Hollow 5-1 in the First Qualifying Round and then Isthmian Premier neighbours Wingate & Finchley were beaten 3-1 at Silver Jubilee Park in the next round.

Wingate’s league rivals Herne Bay were then edged out by the odd goal in five, again at home, in the last round.

The Greens take on National League South side Chippenham Town at home on Saturday.

The Bluebirds are currently 14th in the table and beat Division One South leaders Sholing in the Second Qualifying Round and Hendon’s league rivals Metropolitan Police 2-1 in the last round.

Another Premier Division South club with a home draw are Bracknell Town, who take on last season’s Premier Division Central champions Banbury United at The SB Stadium.

The Robins had a great start to their first season at Step 3 level after running away with the Isthmian South Central title in 2021/22 but then lost momentum when highly-rated manager Bobby Wilkinson left to take the Weymouth job.

To reach this stage, Bracknell have beaten league rivals Harrow Borough, Chesham United and Yate Town.

Andy Whing’s Puritans have maintained the momentum from last season in the National League North and sit third going into the tie.

In the cup, Banbury won 1-0 at former league rivals Stratford Town and then beat Division One Central outfit Berkhamsted 2-0 at the Plant Hire Community Stadium to reach the Fourth Qualifying Round.

The other three Southern League clubs all face very tough away ties against National League opposition.

Basford United, switched from the Northern Premier League in the summer, make the trip to the ARMCO Arena to take on a Solihull Moors side who are currently sixth in the table but lost their last game at Yeovil Town.

The Nottinghamshire side, sitting tenth at present, have seen off Midland League Premier Division Romulus, United Counties League Premier Division South side Rugby Town and then won 4-2 on penalties at National League North outfit Boston United at the Jakemans Stadium in a replay after a 1-1 draw at Greenwich Avenue.

Basford’s league rivals Coalville Town have the toughest task of anyone in the round as they travel to Meadow Lane to take on the current National League leaders Notts County.

FA Cup winners back in 1894 and runners-up in 1891, the Magpies are rich in the history of the game and under Luke Williams, will be looking to reclaim their place in the Football League they lost in 2019.

Adam Stevens` Coalville side are sitting third in the table at present – the position they finished in 2021/22.

In the cup the Ravens have beaten NPL Division One Midlands neighbours Shepshed Dynamo but only after a replay, NPL Division One West newcomers Macclesfield FC 1-0, thanks to a last-gasp Tendai Chitiza effort, and then Isthmian North side AFC Sudbury 3-0 at the Mander Cruickshank Solicitors Stadium, with Ashley Chambers bagging a brace.

Unbeaten Premier Division South club Weston-super-Mare are in good form and will fancy their chances of at least bringing Barnet back to the Optima Stadium for a replay.

The Seagulls are 13 games unbeaten in all competitions and have wins over Isthmian South Central side Basingstoke Town, Toolstation Western League neighbours Shepton Mallet and then another Western League outfit, Helston Athletic, who they beat 7-2 with Reuben Reid netting a hat-trick.

Barnet are currently 14th in the National League and were involved in that extraordinary 7-5 defeat at Wrexham last Saturday!

Indeed, Weston supporters should prepare themselves for what could well be a high-scoring tie as, as well as that 7-5 defeat, the Bees` previous three matches have seen a 5-4 loss at Dagenham & Redbridge, a 5-0 home defeat to York City and a 4-2 home win over Maidstone!

What odds on a goalless draw!!

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