Football: Non-league notebook: West in search of rare Vase

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The Independent Online
THE FA VASE has not found its way to the West Country since Forest Green Rovers won it 11 years ago with a 3-0 victory over Rainworth Miners' Welfare at Wembley. Rovers, from Nailsworth in Gloucestershire, are still in this year's Vase, but they will do well to progress against one of two strong teams from the Great Mills (Western) League involved in tomorrow's last-16 stage fifth round.

Tiverton Town, who are ahead on goal difference, and Clevedon Town are side by side on 56 points - nine clear of their nearest rivals - at the top of the West Country's premier league. Tiverton head for Forest Green after a fine 4-0 win at Barton Rovers of the Diadora League, Vase finalists in 1978, in the last round. Cup football holds no fears for the Devon club, who reached the first round of the FA Cup in 1990 and 1991.

Clevedon also face an away tie, at the tough Essex Senior League club, Canvey Island, but they will travel in confident mood having won twice at Evesham, quarter-finalists last season, in the fourth round. After their initial 2-0 victory, the game had to replayed at the request of the Football Association, following a query from Evesham about the eligibility of the former Exeter winger, Gary Marshall, who made his debut for Clevedon as a second-half substitute.

'We were most upset at suggestions that we had been guilty of misconduct,' Mike Williams, Clevedon's secretary, said yesterday. Evesham did not make use of their second chance, though, losing the replayed tie 3-1 last weekend.

At Canvey, Clevedon's striking threat will come from their top scorer, Andy Perrett, and John Durham, an itinerant centre-forward who has played for several Great Mills clubs since his League days with Torquay and Rotherham. Tiverton will look to Kevin Smith, formerly with Exeter, Torquay and Cambridge United, for inspiration up front. Between them, Perrett, Durham and Smith scored 84 goals last season.

The strongest Vase challenge from the North could come from Bridlington Town, the leaders of the HFS Loans League First Division, who travel to Rothwell, title chasers in the Hereward United Counties League. Bridlington have recently recruited Ian Noteman, who scored 13 goals in Guiseley's Vase campaign last season, including two in their 5-3 defeat by Wimborne in the final. After spells with Lancaster and Shepshed this term, he has delivered five goals in three games for his latest club.

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