Altrincham director Bill Waterson casts an eye over all the action from an eventful weekend of Emirates FA Cup third qualifying round ties and also refers to a nice touch from our league sponsors Vanarama, which is evident in the opening line of his account.
A total of 17 Manarama National League North sides took to the field in the FA Cup on Saturday, but, by the end of the afternoon, only nine were left standing. Eight of us marched into Monday’s draw unaccompanied, one lived to fight another day by earning a replay, but the other eight were eliminated.
By the way, there is no misprint above; Vanarama have rebranded for this month to raise awareness for the fight against prostate cancer, and we are delighted to highlight their admirable initiative.
There were two all-National League North clashes, one of which showed our division in a particularly good light. I refer, of course, to a rousing tie packed with attractive, attacking football at The J.Davidson Stadium, where Alty made light of going behind twice in the first half to run out deserved 4-2 victors against Bradford (Park Avenue). In the other one, Curzon Ashton were on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline at home to Southport.
In the single North meets South clash, Hereford could not replicate the heroics of the previous round, when they travelled down to Torquay’s Plainmoor ground for a replay against Truro and fought back from 3-0 down to win 4-3. This time, there was no way back after going behind to visitors Welling United, who went on to win 2-0.
There were several ties that pitted National League North sides against Evo-Stik Premier League opposition, and these led to some notable scalps for the lower-placed teams. Witton Albion triumphed 2-1 at FC United of Manchester, and Neil Young’s Marine did for Brackley, with a notable 3-2 success at St James Park
Redressing the balance somewhat, Lee Sinnott’s Gainsborough Trinity went out 2-1 at home to famed Cup fighters Blyth Spartans, while our next opponents Alfreton Town prevailed 2-1 at their near-neighbours Mickleover Sports.
Two other National League North sides were undone by NPL opposition, however. Warrington impressively accounted for high-flyers AFC Telford United 2-1 beside the Manchester Ship Canal, and, in the game of the round, Stourbridge recovered from 2-0 arrears to earn the Black Country blagging rights with a 3-2 win against Kidderminster Harriers.
There was one more shock to come as National League North sides took on teams below them, but, first, more on the ones who managed to sidestep those banana skins that make the Cup such a special competition. Chorley were too good for Peterborough Sports, conquerors of Boston United, and chalked up a comfortable 3-0 away win, and Stockport County and York City also avoided an upset with 3-0 home victories against Corby Town and St Ives Town respectively.
Ashton United clocked up the miles, and a 1-0 win, at Kings Lynn, while Guiseley earned themselves a replay at Nethermoor by drawing 2-2 draw at Cleethorpes Town. So, on to that one remaining shock, and it was the biggest of the day, as Northern League side Dunston UTC toppled Chester 4-3. This was Chester’s first visit to the north-east since their 8-1 drubbing at Blyth Spartans earlier in the season – I guess they will not be hurrying back to that part of the world anytime soon.
So, joining Alty in the hat for Monday’s fourth qualifying round draw are, from the National League North, Alfreton Town, Ashton United, Blyth Spartans, Chorley, Southport, Stockport County, York City and Guiseley (who must replay against Cleethorpes). From the leagues below us, the Northern Section will likely see Marine, Dunston UTS, Witton Albion, Kettering Town, St Neots Town or Coalville, Stourbridge and Workington or Kidsgrove Athletic. And from the Conference National, who enter in the next round, we can look out for Barrow, FC Halifax Town, AFC Fylde, Chesterfield, Salford City, Harrogate Town, Gateshead, Hartlepool United, Wrexham and maybe Solihull Moors.
The reward for victory in the fourth qualifying round is £25,000, not to mention a place in the first round proper, alongside clubs from the Football League. What an incentive!
Peterborough Sports 0 Chorley 3
Altrincham 4 Bradford (Park Avenue) 2
Brackley Town 2 Marine 3
Cleethorpes Town 2 Guiseley 2
Curzon Ashton 1 Southport 2
Dunston UTS 4 Chester 3
FCUM 1 Witton Albion 2
Gainsborough Trinity 1 Blyth Spartans 2
Hereford United 0 Welling United 2
Kings Lynn 0 Ashton United 1
Mickleover Sports 1 Alfreton Town 2
Stockport County 3 Corby Town 0
Stourbridge 3 Kidderminster Harriers 2
Warrington Town 2 AFC Telford United 1
York City 3 St Ives Town 0