The FA Cup – Weekend Final
Right, I promise that this will be the last time that I mention the FA Cup for the time being, but here’s a brief round-up of what happened this weekend overall. The surprise that the BBC had been hoping for happened at Plainmoor this afternoon, when Torquay United came from a goal down to win a very entertaining match against Yeovil Town by four goals to one. Yeovil, of course, were celebrated giant-killers whilst they were a non-league club but today they were completely outplayed by a Torquay United side that will almost certainly now see the odds against them winning the Conference this season slashed. The other non-league sides playing today were somewhat less successful. Gainsborough Trinity were beaten 6-0 at home by Hartlepool United, whilst Forest Green Rovers raced into a two goal lead against Rotherham United before being pegged back to a 2-2 draw.
As I mentioned briefly on here yesterday, there wasn’t enormous amount to get over-excited about, though a couple of the goals that were scored were out of the absolute top draw. I already mentioned Altrincham’s goal against Millwall in their 2-1 home defeat – an outstanding pre-planned move from a free-kick which ended up with the ball being lashed in off the far post from a very tight angle. I still haven’t been able to find a video of it online, but I’ll put it up as soon as I do. Running it close in second place was Nigel Brake’s magnificent free kick for Horsham against Maidenhead United yesterday afternoon. They went on to beat Maidenhead (who are a division above them in the Conference South) 4-1. I have a certain amount of affection for Horsham because its my parents’ home town (though I’ve never lived there myself), so I was pleased to see them through to the Second Round. The BBC were trumpeting Rushden & Diamonds’ 3-1 win against Macclesfield Town as being “The Shock Of The Round”, which reeked of them trying to create a story where, in all honesty, one didn’t really exist. Mid-table in the Conference isn’t really that much different to mid-table in League Two. The best result of the round from a non-league team came at Edgely Park, where Ryman League side Staines Town came from a goal behind to hold Stockport County of League Two to a 1-1 draw. Admittedly, it did require a pretty horrendous mistake by the Stockport goalkeeper Chris Adamson, who spilt Mark Nwojeki’s shot for Marc Charles-Smith to level things up.
Fortunately, the Second Round draw, which was made this afternoon, and this was a considerably more interesting draw than the one that had preceded it. It’s difficult to pick out a “tie of the round” from those that were pulled from the hat. Oxford United, who thought that their stay in non-league football was going to be a short one but are finding it to be more difficult than they thought it might be (they’re twelfth at the time of writing), are at home against Southend United. Burton Albion, who hilariously held Manchester United to a draw in the Third Round a couple of years ago, will be fancying their chances of getting there again after having been drawn at home to League Two side Barnet. Horsham have got the reward that their First Round performance deserved with a home match against Swansea City. Torquay United, this afternoon’s surprise package, have another home tie against Cheltenham Town or Brighton & Hove Albion (who needed a last minute goal to draw 1-1 at Whaddon Road yesterday). Finally, Harrogate Railway, who caused a minor surprise by beating Conference side Droylsden 2-1 yesterday, have a home match against Mansfield Town, who are fourth from bottom in League Two. There could be some very interesting stories to come in three weeks time.