Football: First round giant-killers in hiding

FA Cup round-up
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The Independent Online
Supporters of non-League football are always keen to talk about how the gap between their own level of the game and that of their professional counterparts is narrowing. The first round of the FA Cup can usually be relied upon to add force to their argument, but this year - so far at any rate - it has failed to produce a single giant-killing act.

Whitby Town came as close as anybody yesterday as they dominated their "home" tie against Hull City, which was played in torrential rain at Scarborough's Seamer Road ground. Hull spent most of the game on the retreat but their Northern League opponents were unable to capitalise on a series of good chances.

Seven non-League teams forced replays against League sides. Among the unluckiest were Farnborough Town, who took a 2-0 lead over Barnet only to see the Third Division side fight back with two goals by Sean Devine.

Colwyn Bay were only 14 minutes away from a memorable victory over Wrexham. The Unibond League side, who gave Wrexham home advantage because they were unable to stage the tie, took the lead over their Second Division opponents through Graham Roberts, but Bryan Hughes equalised late in the game.

Cheltenham Town may be the most likely giant-killers in next week's replays after earning a goalless draw at Peterborough, but others may feel their best chance has gone. Woking, who held Millwall on Friday, and Sudbury Town and Northwich Victoria, who drew with Brighton and Walsall respectively, all face replays away from home.

Hednesford Town, Boston United, Enfield and St Albans are the only non- League teams definitely through to the second round. Hednesford visit Blackpool while Boston will travel to Chester.

Most of the big guns from the GM Vauxhall Conference disappointed, particularly Macclesfield, who might have expected better than a 2-0 defeat at home to Rochdale. Kidderminster Harriers, the Conference leaders, went down 4-1 at Crewe.

Altrincham, who are not the force they were, lost 4-1 at Preston, for whom David Reeves scored a hat-trick inside the first 36 minutes.

Two Third Division teams, Exeter City and Scunthorpe United, knocked out Second Division opposition in Bristol Rovers and Rotherham respectively, while Northampton Town looked capable for long periods of surprising Watford yesterday. The winning goal, a brilliant 25-yard shot, was scored by a Northampton-born player but the home crowd were not celebrating. Unfortunately for the Third Division team, Darren Bazeley plays for Watford.

FA CUP second round draw: Northern Section: Northwich Victoria or Walsall v Burnley; Blackpool v Hednesford Town; Chesterfield v Shrewsbury or Scarborough; Whitby Town or Hull v Crewe; Colwyn Bay or Wrexham v Scunthorpe; Mansfield v Stockport; Notts County v Rochdale; Carlisle v Darlington; Chester v Boston United; Preston v Hartlepool or York. Southern Section: Leyton Orient v Stevenage; Borough or Hayes Watford v Ashford Town or Dagenham & Redbridge; Cambridge United v Woking or Millwall; Sudbury Town or Brighton v Brentford; Luton Town v Boreham Wood or Rushden & Diamonds; Enfield v Peterborough or Cheltenham Town; Plymouth v Exeter; Farnborough or Barnet v Wycombe; Cardiff City v Gillingham; Swansea City or Bristol City v St Albans.

Ties to be played week ending 6-8 December.

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