The clubs contesting this weekend's third qualifying round of the FA Cup know that they are just two wins away from a place in the first round proper and a possible tie against glamorous opposition like Fulham or Burnley.
For teams like Yeovil Town, who entertain Chippenham, the first round is familiar territory. That is not the case for several of the smaller clubs still in the competition, like Woodbridge Town from Suffolk, who travel to Solihull Borough on Sunday, and the Staffordshire side Knypersley Victoria. They entertain Spalding tomorrow after achieving one of the best results in their history in the last round: a 3-1 home win over the Dr Martens League champions, Gresley Rovers.
"We did just as well in the first qualifying round when we beat Atherstone, who are doing better than Gresley this season," a proud John Shenton, Knypersley's secretary, said yesterday. "This is only our third season in the FA Cup."
Woodbridge are having to make the long journey to the West Midlands because the Football Association has reduced the regionalisation of the qualifying rounds. Another Suffolk side, Sudbury Wanderers, fell foul of this in the last round. After holding Bromsgrove Rovers 1-1 at home, they went to Worcestershire for the midweek replay without some of their best players, who could not take time off work, and lost 2-0.
Leighton James, the former Burnley and Wales winger, is back in management at the UniBond League club Accrington Stanley. He was previously in charge of Gainsborough Trinity, Morecambe and Netherfield. James excelled at cricket in the summer when, playing for Heysham, he broke the record for runs scored in a season in the Westmorland League.
Elsewhere in the UniBond League, the Gretna goalkeeper, Glenn Johnstone, is making a name for himself, having scored two goals last month with kicks from inside his own penalty area.
The Littlehampton goalkeeper, Mark Howells, had less luck from much closer range last month. An FA Cup replay against Marlow was decided by a penalty shoot-out, and after all 20 outfield players scored with their spot-kicks so did the Marlow custodian, Jamie Jackson. Howells shot wide, though, to give Marlow an 11-10 shoot-out success.
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