Football / Non-League Notebook: 'Tivvy' pursue Cup glamour

THE FA Cup is the focus of attention for the non-League fraternity this weekend, with Sunday's draw for the first round proper offering opportunities for lucrative, high-profile ties against the likes of Birmingham City and Burnley, writes Rupert Metcalf.

Tiverton Town, the Great Mills League leaders, must fancy their chances against Conference opposition in the fourth qualifying round tomorrow. The Devon side, seeking their third first-round appearance in five years, suffered a rare setback earlier this month: they lost a league game for the first time since December 1992. Since that 2-1 defeat at Paulton Rovers, though, 'Tivvy' have won 8-1 at Bideford in the last round of the Cup and beaten Frome 10-1 and Liskeard 5-0 in the league.

At their Ladysmead ground tomorrow, Tiverton entertain Farnborough Town. The Hampshire side also have a good recent Cup record (they took West Ham to two games in the third round three seasons ago) but they are in poor form in the Conference, having taken just one point from a possible 12.

None of this weekend's Cup contestants had to battle harder than Braintree Town to survive the third qualifying round. It took 'The Iron' 330 minutes to overcome their Essex rivals, Billericay Town. Braintree scored injury-time equalisers in the first game and at the end of both normal time and extra time in the first replay to earn Monday's second replay at Billericay, which they won 3-2, again after extra time.

That triumph was particularly praiseworthy as Braintree's manager, Frank Bishop, resigned last week and eight players walked out, unhappy at Bishop's job being given to his assistant, the former Tottenham player, Peter Collins. However, with young reserves filling the gaps, Braintree won Monday's replay to earn tomorrow's home tie against Gresley Rovers.