5021 The Road to Wembley 2007/08- R
by : Hugh Larkin
Mid-November is the time when the qualifiers are over and the surviving non-league sides get to mix it with the League One and Two clubs. We start Round One with a guarantee of 10 non-league sides in the draw for Round Two. These are some of the ties to look out for;
Hereford United v Leeds United (Friday night)Most of the minnows were hoping to get the fallen giants from Elland Road but one of the recent returned to League Two picked up the plum. Edgar Street will be rocking when Dennis Wise brings his unbeaten outfit out west.
While Leeds have cut a swathe through League One this season, Hereford’s form in League Two has been none too shabby and the Bulls sit second in their division. The much travelled striker Trevor Benjamin has been in good form for the Bulls this season at what is his 16th League club no less.
While Hereford are confident, handling Leeds Tresor Kandol and Jermaine Beckford is a huge ask. The home side can’t lose though- not only do they get £75,000 for being on TV, the game is also a sell out.
Lincoln City v Nottingham ForestIt’s been a miserable season so far for Lincoln City fans with the Red Imps rooted toward the foot of League Two. After their dreadful luck in play offs in the past few seasons Imps fans deserve some cheer.
Drawing Forest, who make the short trip to Sincil Bank, is an opportunity to forget League woes for the moment. The Imps can field the much travelled Jamie Forrester and Steve Torpey up front but its an even bigger game for midfielder Lee Frecklington appearing for his home town club.
For Forest, Neil Lennon finds himself back in the FA Cup fray for the first time since 200 though he had plenty of experience of the early rounds during his stint at Crewe.
Bury v WorkingtonWorkington are back in the First Round for the first occasion since 1983 and cross swords with a team that they used to play during their years as a League club.
Ironically, this same tie was the very last one Workington played as a League club. Bury hammered them 6-0 at Gigg Lane in this round back in November 1976. At the end of that season the Reds failed to gain re-election and were cast out of the Football League.
The older members of the travelling support from Cumbria might have revenge on their minds. Bury have improved this season but are still a better side away from home so the visitors travel with some optimism.
Oxford United v Northwich VictoriaThere are 10 all non-League ties but nowhere are there two teams more in need of the restorative powers of a bit of Cup success.
Jim Smith’s Oxford lost out on a return to the League in the play offs last season after a cracking start to the campaign tailed off. This year the play offs would be a success given their poor opening which culminated in a 5-0 pasting by Rushden on live TV last week. 11th position for a side desperate to return to the League is unacceptable and Smith is under pressure.
For the Vics, survival is the name of the game. The club are mired at the foot of the Blue Square Premier without a win and in horrendous financial trouble to boot. A win over Oxford would be a step toward a Third Round lifeline-a meeting with a Premier giant would be a pay day that could save the club.