Non-League Football: Swifts hoping to soar high

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The Independent Online
This year's FA Cup first round will feature only two clubs making their debuts at this stage of the competition. Heybridge Swifts earned a home tie against Gillingham with a dramatic 3-2 win over Nuneaton Borough on Tuesday.

The Midlanders took a two-goal lead but then had two men sent off and lost to a last-minute goal.

The other debutants, Bashley, from the New Forest, will travel to Chesham, of the Diadora League. Heybridge, based in a village on the Essex coast, have climbed to the Diadora First Division from the Essex Senior League in 10 years. The local police have advised the club against facing Gillingham at their Scraley Road ground, so the tie will take place at Colchester United's ground on Sunday 13 November (2.0).

'With the experience we have in our side, we're sure we can give Gillingham a good game,' Michael Gibson, the Heybridge chairman, said yesterday. The Swifts' squad includes Paul Brush, the former West Ham full-back.

The biggest upset in the fourth qualifying round, however, saw Tiverton, of the Great Mills League, knock out the GM Vauxhall Conference club, Farnborough, to secure a home tie against Leyton Orient.

It looked as though the Devon side would do the job at home last weekend when they led 4-0 just after half-time, but their visitors recovered to earn a replay on Tuesday, Bradley Pratt equalising two minutes from time. In Hampshire, however, Tiverton humiliated their high-flying opponents, with Kevin Smith (two), Phil Everett, Mark Saunders and Steve Daly on target in a 5-1 triumph.

The first-round Cup tie between Walton and Hersham and Swansea City has also been switched to the Sunday (3.0), as has Marlow against Oxford United (1.30) and Guiseley against Carlisle United (1.0, at Bradford City FC).

Daley Thompson, the former Olympic decathlete who had a spell with Reading in the summer, is joining Stevenage Borough and is expected to play for their reserves tomorrow and on Monday. 'Daley is in serious consideration for a first-team place,' Paul Fairclough, the GM Vauxhall Conference club's manager, said.