FA Cup fourth round qualifying preview

By James Gordon

Four NPL clubs are dreaming of reaching the FA Cup first round proper this weekend.

More than 1,400 fans are expected to travel to see Belper Town take on Notts County at Meadow Lane.

It’s a historic afternoon for the Nailers against a side who were the oldest Football League club in the country before their relegation at the end of last season.

Belper’s run in the competition has already earned them £11,250 in prize money and they have caused a number of upsets on their way, defeating Alvechurch, Witton Albion and Rushall Olympic.

Manager Grant Black told the Belper News: “It’s fantastic for the club and for the town.

“It was probably the best draw we could have got. We’re buzzing as a group and it’s a fantastic achievement for the club.

“We will watch Notts County and prepare for them the same way we have for every team we’ve played so far.

“We’ll try and set up a game plan that will help us get a positive result, whether that’s a win or a draw.

“We know it will be an incredibly tough thing to do but we’ve got to go with the belief that we can do that and we will.

“If we perform well on the day then we’ll make it difficult for them and hopefully keep the run going.”

The tie also carries significance as it is the first time since 1915 that a previous winner of the FA Cup has had to compete in the qualifying rounds. Notts County won the competition back in 1894.

Nantwich Town could make it through to the FA Cup first round proper for the third time in 10 years if they can beat King’s Lynn Town.

King’s Lynn return to Cheshire for the first time since they beat Warrington Town in last season’s infamous Super Play-off final, which secured their promotion to National League North.

One of their goalscorers that day, Adam Marriott, has notched 13 goals in 16 games this season and has been identified as the dangerman by the Dabbers. The former Cambridge, Stevenage and Lincoln City forward was the club’s golden boot winner last campaign.

Young defender Troy Bourne, part of the team that made it through to the first round two seasons ago, told the club’s official website: “When we first realised we were in the first round of the FA Cup, it almost felt like a dream. The atmosphere straight after the game was immense.”

When asked who he’d like to play against if the Dabbers are to win on Saturday, he said, “it would have to be Sunderland, to get such a huge team would be an amazing achievement and experience to be apart of.”

Nantwich beat Morpeth Town in the last round with a dramatic late Joe Mwasile winner, while King’s Lynn beat NPL S/East Division side Leek Town 2-0.

Whitby Town are in the fourth qualifying round for the first time in 16 years, and have won their last three ties at this stage.

They had to get through an arduous tie against Gloucester City in the last round, conceding an injury-time equaliser from the penalty spot, before taking the long trip south for the replay on the Monday night with an injury-hit squad that saw defender Kieran Weledji play as a makeshift forward and two goalkeepers named on the bench.

Opponents Stourbridge have a decent FA Cup pedigree, though have lost at this stage in each of the past two seasons.

Manager Chris Hardy told the Whitby Gazette: “Without doubt this is the biggest game I have been involved with.

“This is the cup final for us, the prize being a place in the first round of the FA Cup and the obvious financial benefits that come with that.

“We know it’s a 50/50 game. I genuinely believe that if we perform to our potential then we’ll win it.”

Whitby are without striker Bradley Fewster, skipper Dale Hopson, Callum Patton, Greg Rutherford and Corey Roper for the game.

The other remaining NPL side is Colne, who travel to face National League North side Gateshead.

A win would bank Colne £18,750, which chairman Ryan Haigh estimates could be about 20% of the club’s turnover, according to a wide-ranging piece on the BBC.

This is the first time that Colne, formed in 1996, have reached this stage and they would be the first team from the town to ever appear in the FA Cup first round proper, if they can pull off an unlikely win.

Where next?

Selection of fixtures brought forward A number of fixtures have been re-arranged for Saturday October 26 following respective exits from the FA Trophy.
NPL clubs could get bye in FA Cup first round The four remaining NPL clubs in the FA Cup have an extra reason to make it through to the first round proper.

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