Twelve clubs carry Sussex hopes in FA Cup first qualifying round
FA Cup fever returns to Sussex this week.
For 12 clubs’ thoughts turn to the FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round. Managers, players and fans will be looking forward to gaining fame and glory while chairman will be eyeing up the prospect of £2,250 prize money. Fixtures are to be played on Tuesday and Wednesday..
Chichester folk can once again look towards their football team with pride and excitement. Last season manger Miles Rutherford and his players made national news with a spectacular run which ended with a game on the Wirral against Tranmere Rovers which was beamed live on TV.
City made a tricky trip to Winchester to play Basingstoke in the preliminary round. A man down for a majority of the game Chi forced a penalty shoot out which they prevailed. Rutherford said afterwards that his players showed ‘excellent character’. Their prize, a home draw against County level Bristol based Cribbs Fc. Prediction: Chichester to progress.
The only all-Sussex tie is East Grinstead v Worthing on Tuesday. If this fixture was last season you might predict an away win all day long. However East Grinstead look to have strengthen massively over the summer and they secured a 4-1 victory on Haywards Heath in the league on Saturday. Isthmian Premier league Worthing boss Adam Hinshelwood was delighted with their win at Folkstone on Saturday. Its going to be a humdinger at the GAC Stadium -too close to call.
The Southern Combination League will proudly have three representatives in the FA Cup this week. Little Common, Steyning and Crawley Down Gatwick all have home ties to look forward to, all on Tuesday.
Steyning boss Gerry Murphy heaped praise on Hanworth Villa after their last FA Cup game. But while the visitors from Middlesex did have most of the ball it was Steyning who held their nerve to record a famous 2-1 victory in front a big crowd. They now face fellow county side Sheppey United from Sheerness in Kent.
After a wonderful 3-2 victory at Stansfeld (North Kent) Little Common have hit the jackpot with a home tie against the charismatic Corinthian Casuals. Casuals are a famous non-league club from the Isthmian premier. They have very close connections with Corinthians of Sao Paulo in Brazil and enjoy a huge social media following. My message to Little Common is to enjoy the ride.
Crawley Down Gatwick made a tricky trip to Egham in the last round but prevailed 3-1. Their prize is a home tie against an exceptionally good Hendon outfit. Hendon hail from the Southern premier so it's going to be a tough evening for our Sussex county team.
Mid Sussex club Haywards Heath were given a Covid-related bye in the last round and have been handed an attractive home tie against Hanwell FC. New Heath boss Lloyd Cotton won’t have enjoyed his opening league match when losing 4-1 to EG but will be looking to progress in the cup. Hanwell from West London are at the same level as Heath, who must look to make use of home soil and take victory in a tricky tie.
Hastings United are again proving to be a powerhouse of East Sussex football. In the last round a robust match ensued at Pilot Field against Herne Bay but it was the hosts who won 1-0. That effort has been rewarded with another home tie against same level Chesham FC from Buckinghamshire. Manager Chris Agutter has his team set up to battle and they seem very hard to score goals against. Hastings United to have a long FA Cup run.
Isthmian premier league clubs Lewes and Bognor face road trips but oppositions do not, on paper, seem daunting. Lewes travel to lower league Bedfont right under the final flight path to Heathrow Airport. Bognor have a short trip to South Park near Reigate, Surrey. I take the Rooks and the Rocks both to survive a banana skin.
Horsham will be hosting Kingstonian at their new home ground. Manager Dominic Di Paola is a popular figure and has assembled an exciting team. Horsham have a big future ahead of them. However, in this tie it's going to be a close-run thing against a team from the same division.
On Wednesday evening all eyes will be turning to North Kent as Mid Sussex team Burgess Hill take on Cray Valley Paper Mills. The Hillians received a Covid-related bye in the last round and then suffered last-minute heartbreak on Saturday losing 3-2 at Hythe. Manager Jay Lovett will be looking for a response from his team - all at the club are longing for that elusive spot in the 1st Round proper this year. Hill to win, is my forecast.
I will be covering one of the County League teams on Tuesday and will be determining which one by drawing a name out of a hat live on Twitter @bowmanontheroad on Monday. Then I will be joining the Burgess Hill vibe on Wednesday. Good luck to all our teams facing an FA Cup tie this week. Hopefully we can take 11 through to the 2nd Qualifying Round.
Follow the action on @bowmanontheroad.