Ninety minutes from the promised land

By Ian Townsend

Eight of our clubs are on the cusp of the FA Cup First Round. Here’s our preview of the action- which takes place between Saturday and Monday

We know, with certainty, than we will have two clubs in Monday’s draw for the First Round of the FA Cup- because four of our clubs play each other on Saturday. But with a little luck we could have eight, as that’s how many have made the final qualifying round and will kick off on Saturday or Monday only ninety minutes from the promised land.

Bury Town have been magnificent this season, unbeaten in the league and with four FA Cup wins already under their belts. They travel to Banbury United, who sit in thirteenth place in Pitching In Southern Premier Central, having won two, drawn two and lost two of their six league matches so far. The Puritans were walloped six-one at Coleville Town last Saturday, but that might not be much of an indication of form given that Town are clear at the top of the league at present. They defeated Peterborough Town- conquerors of Enfield Town- on penalties in the last round.

The match is sold out- but never fear, if you can’t get there you can watch a live stream for £1.50! Details HERE.

Our first all Pitching In Isthmian tie features Canvey Island and Cray Wanderers, who meet on the Essex coast. Wands seem to have got over their recent blip, defeating Bristol Manor Farm in the last round of the cup and then getting back to wining ways in the league, impressively defeating Haringey Borough at Coles Park last Saturday. The Gulls also look in excellent shape, having only lost one match this season- and that by a single goal to Maldon and Tiptree. It’s been sixteen years since they last made the First Round, but this one has all the makings of a classic- which is why home tickets have already sold out, and there are very few left for away fans.

Cambridge City have a long trek up the A1 to face Darlington. The Quakers have lost both of their National League North matches so far this season, but have been much better in the cup, walloping Tadcaster Albion six-one at Blackwell Meadows in the last round. Sadly supporters aren’t allowed at this one, but you can stream it live for £7.99 by heading HERE. City’s website has a fabulous article about their last trip to County Durham, to face Willington in the FA Amateur Cup back in 1949. Read it here, and hope for a better result this time around!

Cray Valley PM have a difficult trip to take on National League side Maidenhead United. The Millers might take heart from the fact that United have been much better away from home than on their own patch so far this season, although any confidence they might take from the statistics might be tempered when they note that their hosts defeated Notts County and Wrexham in their last two away matches! Cray Valley have only lost once from open play this season, and have looked impressive throughout, so won’t be overawed. Again, no supporters are allowed, so Millers fans can live stream HERE but it will cost them a tenner.

Next, we have a big match between two of our sides who have been marvellous in the cup in recent years, as Maldon and Tiptree host Haringey Borough. Everyone will undoubtedly remember the Jammers cup exploits last season, when they won six matches in the competition and defeated Leyton Orient before departing in a narrow defeat against Newport County, whilst Borough reached this stage last season before departing the competition at the hands of Yeovil Town, but will remember their narrow defeat in the First Round against Wimbledon on a rain-sodden night the season before- a match they were unlucky to take nothing from- and want the chance of going even further this time around. Both sides are in good form in the league, and with Maldon’s recent record of giantkilling this one is particularly difficult to call. The match is sold out, don’t travel if you don’t have a ticket!

Finally, a match on Monday that we can all watch- as it is live on BT Sport. Bishop’s Stortford host St Albans City in front of the cameras, with both sides still unbeaten- so one of them will have to experience that unfamiliar losing feeling. Stortford have defeated Welwyn Garden City, Brentwood Town and Royston Town to get to this stage, whilst their National league South visitors have defeated Hitchin Town and Mickleover Sports.

Where next?

Can the Rocks beat the Mackerel Men? The Pitching In Isthmian Premier Division is slightly short on matches this weekend due to FA Cup action- but what we have looks marvellous nonetheless. Here’s our preview.
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