The spotlight once more fell on the FA Cup this weekend, with Altrincham's televised tie at Halesowen taking centre stage. Who made it through to the next round and moved to within one game of a possible date with Football League opposition? Alty director BILL WATERSON reveals all.
Fifteen Manarama National League North sides lined up in the Emirates FA Cup third qualifying round, seven of our league mates having fallen at the first hurdle.
This was the last round where the NLN would be the 'big fish', with the National League National Division teams entering the fray in the next round. I talk about the Manarama League because the National League has been rebranded for October in honour of the league's charity of the month, Prostate Cancer.
The first opportunity to secure a place in the fourth qualifying round fell to Altrincham and Halesowen Town, after our tie was selected by the BBC for live coverage, via the red button, with an early 12.30pm kick-off.
And the 200 or so Robins fans among a 1,240 crowd at the ground - and many more watching on TV - saw Alty grab that place with second-half goals from substitute Tom Peers and winger John Johnston in a hard-fought 2-0 win.
There were a couple of all-NLN clashes, Southport picking up an emphatic 5-0 win in Yorkshire against Farsley Celtic and Darlington windmilling away from Leamington, having won 2-0.
Two more NLN sides bit the dust, slipping on the banana skin that Alty robustly avoided. Guiseley (our next opponents) lost at Peterborough Sports by a single goal, whilst Blyth Spartans lost 4-2 at Hednesford United. Two others live to fight another day, Hereford earning a replay with a goalless stalemate at Tamworth and Gloucester City drawing 1-1 at Whitby Town.
Six other NLN clubs progressed directly to the next round, most notably Spennymoor, who underlined their return to form with a 6-2 win at Ashton United. York City overcame a tough test at Buxton, winning 2-1, and King's Lynn Town triumphed 2-0 at Leek Town.
Boston United beat Sutton Coldfield Town in the west midlands 1-0 and Brackley Town had a 2-0 home win against Warrington Town. Finally, Gateshead travelled to Kidsgrove Athletic and made the long trip home with a 1-0 victory.
The fourth qualifying round is the next big hurdle, where the 40 successful clubs from this weekend's ties will be joined by 24 National League clubs. The draw is still regionalised, so there will be 16 northern ties and 16 southern ties, featuring 24 National League sides and up to 11 (coincidently) from each of the North and South Divisions, with up to 20 from across Levels 3 and below.
The draw takes place on Monday, and the ties will be played on the weekend of October 19th. Prize money is £18,750 for the winners and £6,250 for the losers. The winners will be joined in the first round proper by the 47 clubs in Leagues One and Two, and that round will be played on the weekend of November 9th.