Curzon Ashton will not have appeared on the football radar so very often but the FA Cup first round has an infallible habit of shining a light in the quieter corners and the Unibond North side's 3-2 defeat of League Two Exeter City threw the spotlight on the Ashton-under-Lyne side. Goals by Chris Worlsey, just before the half-hour, and Gambian international James Ogoo, just before the hour, put the Greater Manchester side firmly in control. Michael Norton made it 3-0 with 11 minutes remaining before a tardy recovery by Exeter, but they had left it too late and Curzon Ashton, in the first round for the first time, hung on.
Nor were they the only giantkillers – Blyth Spartans of the Blue Square Conference North, and Histon, third in the Conference, accounted for League opposition, while Kettering, Telford, Droylsden, Grays and Altrincham all forced replays against their supposed superiors. Blyth, 18th in their division, swept into a 3-0 lead, Shrewsbury Town guilty of being caught cold when Shaun Reay gave the Spartans a first-minute lead and added the second in the 29th minute. It was 3-0 before the hour and although Grant Holt pulled a goal back, Blyth's defence held firm.
Swindon Town of League One travelled to Histon but took their League form with them – they had won only once away from home all season. Daniel Wright's strike six minutes past the hour saw Histon win 1-0.
Five sides forced replays against League opposition. It looked as though League Two Lincoln City were leaving the Cup when Exodus Geohaghan gave Kettering, top of the Conference, the lead in the 85th minute, but a minute later Danny N'Guessan equalised to give the Imps a second chance.
Perhaps it was no surprise that Carlisle United, struggling so badly in League One that they recently sacked manager John Ward, would be held by Grays Athletic of the Conference. Jamie Stuart gave the Essex side the lead but Gary Madine grabbed Carlisle's leveller six minutes from time to spare their blushes. Carlisle face a long trip south for the rematch.
Conference North side Droylsden travelled to Darlington, top of League Two, and fought for a goalless draw to leave the Quakers facing a difficult night's replay.
It looked like business as usual for Southend United when Francis Laurent gave them an early lead at Telford, but Jon Adams turned the match on its head with two goals for the side fourth in the Conference North. The Shrimpers had something left in their net, though, and Jean-Francois Christophe's late goal earned them a replay at Roots Hall.
Altrincham, 16th in the Conference might well be playing Luton Town, bottom of League Two, for points next season. For now, they drew 0-0 at Kenilworth Road.
In games matching non-league sides against each other, Northern Premier side Eastwood Town came from behind to beat Brackley Town of the British Gas Business Premier 2-1 and go into the next round but the meeting between two Conference sides, Eastbourne Borough and Barrow, ended goalless.
Tom Sills scored both goals as Torquay United, second in the Conference and pushing for a return to the League, beat Evesham United of the Southern League Midlands Division 2-0. Suffolk club Leiston of the Ridgeons Premier League, the lowest ranked side in the first round, did themselves proud and go into the hat for the second round after a 0-0 draw with Blue Square North's Fleetwood Town, who had Nathan Pond sent off.
Sixth and seventh respectively in the Conference, Kidderminster edged it against visitors Cambridge United 1-0 thanks to Justin Richards' 17th-minute penalty but Oxford United, 15th in the Conference, were held to a 0-0 draw by Dorchester from the lower half of the Conference South. In a high-scoring match at the aptly named Impact Arena, Alfreton Town of the Blue Square North beat Bury Town of the long-winded British Gas Business Southern League Midlands Division, 4-2.
Other giantkillings: League Two's Bournemouth beat Bristol Rovers of League One 1-0; Bradford City, also of League Two, beat Milton Keynes Dons 2-1, and Louis Dodd scored twice as Port Vale of the bottom division won 4-3 at League One Huddersfield Town.
Elsewhere, famous FA Cup giantkillers of yore, Sutton United, now plying their trade in the Ryman Division One, lost 1-0 at home to Notts County of League Two at Gander Green Lane.Reuse content