• Chris Sobey

F A Cup

While there were no major upsets in the first round of the FA Cup at the weekend, there were some memorable wins and draws for non-league clubs against League One and Two opposition. Non-league Stockport County progressed to the second round after they swept aside League Two strugglers Yeovil 3-1 in their backyard and non-league Maidstone added to League Two Macclesfield woes, knocking them out of the competition 2-1. Other non-league teams who progressed to the second round after beating fellow non-league opposition were Southport and Woking.

Non-league Aldershot held League One strugglers Bradford City to a 1-1 draw and will fancy their chances in the replay as Bradford City are rock bottom of League One and low on confidence. Non-league Ebbsfleet held League Two strugglers Cheltenham who are second bottom to a 0-0 draw at Stonebridge Road and will no doubt fancy their chances in the replay, as all the pressure and expectation is on Cheltenham who will be expected to win.

Non-league Hartlepool made the long trip to Gillingham for their first round tie and produced a heroic performance against the League One side, which ended 0-0. The North East side will no doubt put more pressure on Gillingham in the replay and they will fancy themselves to cause another upset, especially with the advantage of home turf and support. None league Halifax travelled to League Two Morecambe and the visiting underdogs produced a dogged performance that produced a 0-0 draw and the reward of a return leg replay at their home The Shay.

Non-league Oxford City weren’t given much hope of getting a result against league Two high flyers Tranmere at Prenton Park, however, the game turned out to be a six goal thriller. Oxford came from a goal down to go in to the break level and came out in the second half with a vengeance, taking the lead twice, but unfortunately victory was cruelly snatched from their clutches as Tranmere equalized at the death. City will take much hope from this performance and will no doubt fancy their chances in the replay on home turf and with home support.

League One and Two teams who progressed to the second round were Portsmouth who thrashed non-league Maidenhead 0-4, League One high flyers Barnsley thrashed League Two Notts County 4-0, Peterborough were too strong for non-league Bromley winning 1-3 and League Two side Bury thrashed non-league Dover 5-0. Carlisle emerged victorious from there all League Two clash at Crewe, winning 0-1. Blackpool raced to a 0-3 lead at Exeter and were in total control until the home side hit back to make it 2-3 and a nervy end for the visitors. Grimsby, Lincoln, Scunthorpe, Walsall and Luton all knocked out League One or Two opposition and Plymouth and Rochdale both made good use of home advantage knocking out non-league Stevenage and Gateshead.

On Sunday there was some heroic performances by the non-league clubs against EFL opposition and the top prize goes to Guiseley, who were involved in a seven goal thriller against Cambridge. The non-league side dominated most of the game against a lacklustre Cambridge, they raced to a 4-1 lead and apart from a late comeback from the visitors, who reduced the deficit to 4-3, and a nervy last few minutes they deservedly held on for the win. Ten man Chorley were denied a great chance to progress to the second round after they twice lead League One Doncaster, but the visitors fighting spirit and quality was enough for them to save face and snatch a 2-2 draw.

Barnet and Salford will also get a second chance to reach the second round after they held League One Bristol Rovers and Shrewsbury to 1-1 draws respectively. Two other non-league clubs Solihull Moors and Wrexham made it through to the second round after knocking out non-league teams Hitching and Weston Super Mare respectively. League One Fleetwood also made it through to the second round after thrashing non-league Alfreton 1-4 and finally Sunderland continued their great form knocking out Port Vale 1-2 for a place in the second round.

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