Hitchin engineer Rovers defeat

FA Cup round-up
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The Independent Online
WITH 30 non-League clubs involved in yesterday's FA Cup first- round matches the potential for embarrassment was great. Gravesend & Northfleet of the Beazer Homes League Premier, Hitchin Town of the Icis Premier and Blyth Spartans of the Unibond Premier all found the higher ground to their liking, emerging with the League scalps. Cinderford, Barrow, Kingstonian, Colwyn Bay and Telford all stay at the feast as well after beating fellow non-Leaguers.

Hitchin, who played in the very first FA Cup first round 124 years ago, gave an early alarm call to Bristol Rovers of the Endsleigh Second Division at Top Field when telephone engineer Steve Conroy scored after 47 seconds, heading in Ian Scott's free-kick. Scott's through ball set up another BT engineer, Lee Burns, for Hitchin's second. Rovers pulled one back but the north Herts side held on to follow last year's first-round defeat of Hereford with a 2-1 win.

"We were up against a good class side," manager Andy Melvin said, "but had an incredible bonus of two early goals. Our goalkeeper, Gerry Sylvester, was world class and our defence was outstanding." Amazingly, Hitchin have not won a home league game this season.

"I just hoped before the game that we didn't get stuffed," Chris Weller, acting manager of Gravesend, said after the 2-0 win over Third Division Colchester. Luckily, his apprehension did not reach the players and goalkeeper Lee Turner was hardly troubled as the Kent side scored once in each half through Jimmy Jackson and Peter Mortley.

The North-east has had plenty to cheer this season, and Blyth's 2-0 win at Bury gave another acting manager, David McCreery, an FA Cup winner in 1977 with Manchester United, cause for celebration. What might have been McCreery's last match for the Northumberland side - Peter Harrison has been named manager - came to life when Richard Bond seized on a mistake by Bury goalkeeper Gary Kelly to score the first. Heroic Bond then set up Tommy Ditchburn to make it safe just past the hour.

Woking, second in the Conference, knocked Barnet out of the FA Cup after a second-round replay last year, and looked on course to repeat the trick when Darren Hay put them ahead after just 35 seconds at Underhill with the day's fastest goal.

Scott Steele added a second after 19 minutes and it stayed 2-0 until two minutes before half-time. But Linvoy Primus scored from a corner and a Sean Devine header gave Barnet improbable half-time parity. In the second half, Barnet had Jamie Campbell and Peter Scott sent off as the Bees finished with nine men and a replay.

An extraordinary first half at Second Division Bradford saw Beazer Homes Premier side Burton Albion twice pull back from a two-goal deficit to go in level with the Second Division side at 3-3. Dean Stride scored in the 38th and 41st minutes and set up a tense second half. Burton's day went flat two minutes from time when Ian Ormondroyd scored Bradford's winner.

Some non-League sides looked the part. Unibond Premier Marine were all at sea at Shrewsbury who recorded their biggest win, 11-2, Dean Spink scoring a hat-trick. Oxford taught Dorchester a lesson, winning 9-1, a hat-trick for Paul Moody, and Mike Conroy scored three for Third Divison Fulham in the 7-0 defeat of Second Division Swansea.

The biggest non-League winners were Icis Premier Kingstonian who beat Wisbech of the Jewson Eastern League 5-1. Trevor Senior scored a late equaliser for the Conference team Farnborough at Second Division Brentford. Relishing the replay, the Farnborough manager Alan Taylor spoke for all non leaguers: "I don't think they will fancy coming to our place."