Trophy Time is here again

By Ian Townsend

This weekend our attention turns back to the FA Trophy, as many of our clubs compete in the Second Qualifying Round. Here’s our preview.

It still seems rather peculiar to be writing about the 2020-21 FA Trophy when the 2019-20 competition is yet to end, but then the whole world is currently peculiar at best, so here we go:

Ashford Town of the South Central Division are having a fine campaign compared to last season, up to third place and having lost only one of their last six competitive matches. Fans of visitors Whitstable Town- in fifth place in the South East Division- would also have been content until Tuesday night, when they witnessed their side concede six goals against Hythe Town. The Oysterboys will want to bounce back, the Tangerines to keep their run going.

North Division leaders Tilbury travel to Aylesbury United of Southern Division One Central, and this will be a battle between two leaders as The Ducks are also top of their table, with four wins and a defeat from their five fixtures.

Two sides who desperately need a win meet at Mayesbrook Park, where Barking entertain Harlow Town. The Blues have generally been good in cup competitions whilst only picking up one point in the league, whilst the Hawks have lost their last five matches in all competions.

Bedfont Sports finally left the FA Cup in midweek at the hands of Canvey Island, and after two giantkillings. They welcome Coggeshall Town to the end of the Heathrow runway, the Seed Growers still looking for consistency after winning two, drawing one and losing three of their six matches in all competitions.

Bracknell Town, who were hammered at Haringey Borough in midweek after previously being undefeated since December, will want to get quickly back to winning ways; whilst visitors Sevenoaks Town, still undefeated in the South East Division, will want to prolong the Robins losing streak.

Brentwood Town host Chichester City, who left the FA Cup in midweek so will have to look to the Trophy if they want a cup run this season. The Blues haven’t really got going yet, scoring only six goals from their seven matches whilst also conceding six, but they have a squad which has an ominous look about it and will undoubtedly wallop someone in the near future. Their Sussex visitors certainly won’t want to be the victims.

Burgess Hill Town bring Ware to Mid Sussex, neither side having had the start they would have liked and both sitting in midtable, whilst Chertsey Town bring Berkhamsted to Alwyns Lane, their visitors in seventh place in Southern League Division One Central.

Chipstead came close to defeating higher level opposition in the cup in midweek, and will hope to do even better against Three Bridges, but their visitors will be confident after winning for the first time this season last weekend; whilst Faversham Town, who have had a fabulous start to their league campaign and are still undefeated, host a Hertford Town side who look much improved from last season and shouldn’t be underestimated.

Another side for whom this years model seems superior to last are Felixstowe & Walton United. The Seasiders see Westfield making the long trip, the visitors having taken only one point from their last six after a very promising start to the campaign.

Hanwell Town welcome Aveley in a clash between two highly-regarded sides at the Powerday Stadium. The Geordies have perhaps the in-form striker in the entire League, Ogo Obi scoring nine goals so far this season and eight in his last four matches, including two hat tricks; whilst the Millers have uncharacteristically lost their last two matches after previously winning five in a row. They visitors had a magnificent run in this competition last season, and will hope for a repeat of that this time around.

Hastings United have looked back to their ominous best when walloping Haywards Heath Town and defeating leaders VCD Athletic recently, whilst visitors FC Romania got their first win of the season last weekend and will be looking to build on that.

Haywards Heath Town are yet to pick up a league victory, and welcome a side from the Pitching In Southern Division One Central who have three, Welwyn Garden City. The visitors have won their last three matches and will be confident, whilst Town surely have to start recording victories soon. Perhaps this can be the springboard for their season.

Histon, in fourth place in the North Division, welcome Leek Town of the Pitching In Northern Premier South East. The visitors have been scoring goals for fun this season, averaging three a match in their league campaign, so the hosts usually parsimonious defence will have to work hard if they are to get a positive result.

Hythe Town will be buoyant after their six-nil win in midweek, and they welcome Ashford United to Reachfields. The Nuts and Bolts haven’t had the start to the season they might have expected, and are still struggling for consistency,

Bury Town, unbeaten and going wonderfully well in all competitions, travel to face Loughborough Dynamo. Their hosts, from the Pitching In Northern Premier South East Division, are also going well- in third place in their division with only one defeat- so it might be Town’s toughest task so far. That said, they’ll undoubtedly be confident of victory.

Maldon and Tiptree and Grays Athletic meet at Park Drive, with the visitors looking for revenge as the Jammers knocked them out of the FA Cup a fortnight ago after a penalty shootout followed a two-all draw, whilst two sides who haven’t had the best of starts to the league season will be looking for some knockout glory as Northwood host Heybridge Swifts.

Phoenix Sports and Marlow are also still looking for consistency. Sports will be looking to bounce back after two defeats, whilst their visitors have become draw specialists, particularly in cup competitions where two of their matches have gone to penalties- with a win and a defeat.

Ramsgate have been badly struck down by injuries and have advertised the fact that they are fielding a very young side against Canvey Island in consequence, which might make it difficult as the Gulls are in good form, with only one defeat so far this season.

Sittingbourne and East Grinstead Town meet for the first time this season at Woodstock Park, with the Wasps arriving with a one hundred percent league record whilst the Brickies are still searching for lift off. The hosts strengthened impressively over the summer, as did the visitors, and it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that both sides could be competing at the sharp end of the division at the end of the campaign- but this is a one off knockout match and both will be confident of progression.

Dereham Town are off to Sutton Coldfield Town of the Pitching In Northern Premier South East Division. The hosts were impressive in a stormy four-two win at Worksop Town in midweek (there were nine yellow cards), bouncing back after a six-nil defeat last Saturday, whilst the Magpies have become rather difficult to score against, with three clean sheets from their last four.

Tooting & Mitcham United, highly fancied in the Pitching In Isthmian South Central Division, face another side for whom the expectations are high as Romford arrive at Imperial Fields. The visitors have only one win so far this season, whilst the Terrors saw a four match winning streak come to an end against Waltham Abbey last weekend but have been in good form and will be confident.

We’ve an all South Central tie as Uxbridge host Waltham Abbey. The Abbotts took over at the top of the table on Saturday and still have an impressive one hundred percent league record, whilst Uxbridge were also impressive in defeating Ware last weekend. This looks to be a cracker.

VCD Athletic, top of the South East Division, face a tough test at Oakwood against Herne Bay, The visitors are still searching for consistency, but when they’ve been good they have been very good indeed, whilst Vickers have averaged three goals a game so far. Another cracker in prospect!

Whitehawk, who picked up their first win last weekend, host Barton Rovers of Pitching In Southern League Division One Central. The visitors are in second place in the league and quite potent in front of goal, scoring five away from home on Saturday, whilst the Hawks haven’t yet rediscovered their form from the end of last season.

Finally, Whyteleafe host Cray Valley PM again. The two met in the league last weekend and it looked like a Leafe win until the very last minute, when the Millers got an equaliser. Both are in excellent form so take two should be as enthralling as take one.

Where next?

FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round- draw made Talksport 2 have just hosted live coverage of the FA Cup draw. Here's the news you need.

The Pitching In Isthmian Football League newsletter

Keep up-to-date with our exclusive email newsletters.