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Preview: FA Cup first qualifying round

By James Gordon

It’s busy day for NPL clubs in the FA Cup first qualifying round.

Matlock Town will be looking to preserve their unbeaten start under new boss Steve Kittrick when they host fellow Premier Division side Basford United.

Both sides went out at this stage last season, but the Gladiators are six games unbeaten at the start of this campaign, which included a 1-0 win against Basford on August 19.

Kittrick said: “The FA Cup’s big for every club at this level, the rewards can be fantastic. Basford are a good side who’ll probably feel they owe us one but I’m expecting a good game between two sides who’ll go for it.”

There’s another all-Premier Division tie at the Weaver Stadium as Nantwich Town host Grantham Town.

Gingerbreads boss Paul Rawden said: "Concentration will be key for us on Saturday. They score goals and we can't let them have that opportunity.

"Saturday provides us with a very different sort of test. As it's a cup game, both teams are going to want to attack and go for it and try not to get a replay, especially with the busy schedules we both have.

"It's going to be a tough game. We are missing a couple of players, but we will adapt and put out a side that we feel is going to get us a win and into the draw for the next round."

The third all-Premier Division clash sees Hyde United make the long trip to Morpeth Town, who got past Brighouse Town in a replay earlier in the week.

Stafford Rangers welcome Mickleover Sports to Marston Road, looking to avenge the 1-0 defeat they suffered at the hands of Sports in the league on Bank Holiday Monday.

It’s Mickleover’s second game in the competition this season, having already dispatched Coventry Sphinx.

The fifth and final all-Premier tie sees Atherton Collieries travel to FC United.

Colls have never made it past the third qualifying round, while FC United went as far as the second round proper in 2010/11.

It’s the first time these two have met since the 2006/07, when they both won 3-0 in their respective away games in the North West Counties league.

The hero of Warrington Town’s memorable run to the second round proper in 2014/15, Craig Robinson, brings his City of Liverpool side to Cantilever Park.


Robinson headed the winner for the Yellows as they beat League Two side Exeter City. The two sides met in pre-season, with the Yellows recording a hard-fought 2-1 win.

Lancaster City face a real test against North West Counties side Northwich Victoria, who boast a number of ex-Dolly Blues in their line-up.

Ryan Winder, Tom Kilifin and Rob Henry will be out to cause a cup upset against their former club.

Vics have already caused one upset this season, having beaten Prescot Cables 2-1 in the last round - they needed a replay to get past Silsden in the extra preliminary round.

Buxton make their first ever trip to Romulus, who hammered NPL side Market Drayton Town 6-0 in the preliminary round, and also had to win through an extra preliminary round replay to get to this stage.

Romulus were part of the NPL from 2010 before being relegated in 2018 to the Midlands Premier League.

Gainsborough have a tricky trip to Banbury United, who are currently top of the BetVictor Southern Premier League Central.

Manager Liam King said: "We are looking forward to the tough test at Banbury, that starts our FA Cup campaign. The lads are all prepared, ready to put on a performance and hopefully get in the hat for Monday's draw.”

For the third successive season, Scarborough Athletic and Marske United will meet in a cup competition.

Boro beat Marske in the North Riding Senior Cup final in May and they will go in to this one as favourites too, despite Marske’s encouraging start to the BetVictor Northern Premier N/West Division season.

Former players Kevin Burgess and Leon Scott will take on their old club at the Flamingo Land Stadium.

Striker Jason Gilchrist and captain Jon Shaw are set to return to the South Shields line-up when they welcome Colne to Mariners Park on Saturday.

Joint manager Lee Picton said: “As we all know, the FA Cup is a unique and incredible competition, particularly for non-league clubs.

“Every year it brings with it a hope and dream of making a name for yourself, and we have some great memories from our exploits in the competition two seasons ago, when we made it to the fourth qualifying round by beating the likes of Darlington and York City.

“While we can dream about the many possibilities which may lie ahead, we must really focus all of our attention on this match and give Colne the respect that they deserve.

“If we get our side of things right, both myself and Graham are massively confident we can get the right result and look forward to the draw for the next round on Monday.

“It’s such an exciting competition to be involved in and we want to remain in it as long as possible.”

Trafford plundered seven goals past Kendal Town in midweek and they’ll look to use that as encouragement to cause an upset when they host Premier Division Bamber Bridge at Shawe View.


The Integro League Cup holders have of course got form for beating higher league opposition, having beaten NPL champions Farsley Celtic in the final back in April.

Both Stalybridge and Marine needed replays to get through to set up their meeting on Saturday.

Stalybridge won away at West Didsbury & Chorlton, and will host Marine, who beat Padiham 3-0 in their replay.

These two went head to head in the relegation battle from the Premier Division last season, with Marine eventually going down for the first time in their 125-year history.

Remarkably, these two teams met in a first round proper tie back in 1993/94.

Whitby Town captain Dale Hopson is set to return for their clash against Widnes at the Halton Stadium.


He limped off in the second game of the season against Gainsborough, and made a late cameo appearance in midweek.

Boss Chris Hardy said: We will be giving everything. Hopefully we will get the result that we’re looking for. I want a cup run just as much as everyone at the club.

“Having people such as Dale (Hopson) returning gives us that extra strength that will be needed.”

Witton Albion head to the north east to take on Northern League Division One side Seaham Red Star.

Red Star have already got through two ties to reach this stage, beating Penrith and Guisborough Town.

Ashton United travel to Tadcaster Albion looking for their first win of the season.

Boss Jody Banim admits its “huge financially” for the club to get through, and says “we massively need a win.”

In total, there are 29 first qualifying round ties involving NPL sides.

For those already out, there are four league games in the S/East Division and three in the N/West Division.

Where next?

OUT NOW: The August Step 4 NPL Show The Monthly review of the Step 4 Divisions
Trio boost Buxton Buxton have made three new signings, with two making their debut in the midweek defeat at Mickleover Sports.

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