So the FA Cup first round kicked off again on Friday 7th November and what a way to kick off with a cup upset. Warrington Town of the Northern Premier League played host to League Two Exeter City. Whilst many might have dreamed before kick off of a place in round two, the huge gap between them and the visitors could only mean one thing for the part timers. Of course though the FA Cup is all about living the dream. There would be many a time when down the park we’d play out our own versions of the FA Cup dreaming that one day we’d walk those famous steps to lift the trophy. It would remain a dream, but a dream never dies.
It was a solitary goal after seven minutes from Craig Robinson, whose day job is a plasterer. Exeter threw all they could at the minnows, but they just couldn’t break the hosts down. The League Two side even had a shot cleared off the line as they searched for a goal to at least take the game to a replay, but it wasnt to be and a famous upset was complete.
Warrington Town would certainly not be the only club looking to upset the odds, it would seem that many clubs would be hoping for a home tie against some of the remaining lower league sides in round two.
Kent side Dover Athletic who had been recently struggling in the Conference, faced visitors in the form of League Two side Morecambe who are tenth in their league. On paper it should have been an away win the north-west club in the bag for the second round draw. Of course we all know that football isnt played on paper and usual rules of results, don’t always go the way they should. Like in the Warrington game it was a solitary goal that came between the two sides, albeit this time just before the end of the first half. Dover now make their third appearance in five years in the second round.
Chester were not ones to miss out on the fun either. The Conference side travelled to Southend United. The team that featured John Rooney, the younger brother of Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney, were certainly not frightened to go forward and attack. The North West side went a goal up after five minutes, but this time it would not be the only goal. Southend levelled later on in the first half with a penalty. The visitors wanted more and although they would only manage nine shots on goal, five of those would be on target and a second one would hit the back of the net. Had it not been for some efforts cleared off the line, it could have been much worse for the home side. The end result would be a 2-1 win for the conference side.
As if the Saturday shocks were not enough, there were more on the Sunday. Northern Premier League side Blyth Spartans knocked out Conference side Altrincham with a thumping 4-1 win. An early goal seemed to be the key once more and having gone 2-0 up after an hour and the slim hopes that the visitors had following a 72nd minute goal, were soon to be dashe as Blyth netted two more in the last 6 minutes of the game.
Not to be outdone on the Cup upset stage, were Worcester City, Having knocked out Liverpool in the third round of the 1958-59 FA Cup, they would be adding yet another scalp. This time in the form of Coventry City, who themselves had been famously knocked out by Sutton United years back. The home side it seemed, were in no mood to help themselves and in the first half saw them down to ten men. The City goalkeeper Lee Burge, was sent packing after an incident with a Worcester striker. Coventry City, who won the Cup in 1987, will be hoping their season can turn around as they are three points off the relegation zone.
Non league Aldershot Town will go to a replay after almost scoring a victory at Portsmouth. The visitors who were not afraid to go forward, had a total of seventeen shots on goal. Maybe a bit more luck and they may have not needed a replay. Aldershot will no doubt be looking to cause a Cup upset on home soil against another former FA Cup winner.
Kent’s county town club Maidstone United will see an FA Cup first after they drew 0-0 away to league two Stevenage. The Replay at Maidstone will take place on a 3G pitch. United will look to try and get some advantage from that. With the Football League voting against it, the FA Cup will be the only place you will get to see a 3G pitch this season.
When we see some of the Premier League sides put out weaker sides in the FA Cup, some people say has the cup lost its charm? Well Im sure that the players of Warrington, Blyth Spartans and the other cup giantkillers will all have something to say about that.