This weekend sees the kick-start of the National League’s participation in the FA Trophy for yet another season, one which seen a final with two teams from the Vanarama National League last campaign.
We start at the MBi Shay Stadium with FC Halifax Town looking to roll back the memories to a couple of years ago when they lifted the FA Trophy for the first time in their club history, beating Grimsby Town, Scott McManus was the scorer. The longest serving player for the club will be looking to get on the scoresheet once more after helping clinch that all important win in the league last time out against Aldershot Town. Well, looking to stop the Shaymen progressing is Macclesfield Town, who themselves will be looking for a successful tournament and to go one more step closer than last season when they lost to York City in a thrilling final ending 3-2 to the Minstermen.
Next up, is a clash between Gateshead and Guiseley, the two National League sides will be looking to get some success out of league action after a disappointing first half to the season. Gateshead are 15th, eight points off the play-offs while Guiseley are in a battle against relegation, as we approach the festive period. (ET PENS)
The two sides that were relegated last season are coming together in a clash which has it all to play for. Kidderminster Harriers, currently in the play-off places will be looking to get the better of last time’s winners, York City who themselves are just two points from Kidderminster as the two National League North sides come head to head.
An all National League clash sees Solihull Moors host Tranmere Rovers on Saturday. The home side, currently rock bottom of the table will be hoping for some festive cheer before they get their battle against the drop back underway on next week as they host Borehamwood in a game that they surely have to win, to avoid being bottom at Christmas. The Moors won’t have fond memories of playing Tranmere Rovers after the aggregate 12-0 defeat over the two games last season, and have already lost 2-0 to The Rovers this season at Prenton Park. (ET PENS)
One game which the travel distance between each other is just a 27-minute journey apart sees Warrington Town host Altrincham at the Drivers Direct Stadium. The home side have come through ties against Bamber Bridge, Ashton United and Tamworth in order to get to the first round, although two have had to come from replays, which surely sets the game up for an exciting contest! The visitors will not be an easy match by any means, as the Robins have gone on a thirteen match unbeaten run since mid-September. Altrincham got the better of Alfreton in order to get to the first round stage of the FA Trophy.
Another all National League tie sees Chester host AFC Fylde at the Lookers Vauxhall Stadium. The visitors are coming off the back of a proud performance against League One opposition in Wigan Athletic although Dave Challinor’s side was eventually beaten by the home side. The home side in this one will be looking to get back to back wins for the first time this season after beating Solihull Moors 1-0 last time out. (ET PENS)
Now, the lowest rank team in the FA Trophy Heybridge Swifts face Hampton as their FA Trophy journey continues which started in October. They have had to overcome four teams, which their reward was a place in the first round proper. They have been handed a tough tie against Vanarama National League South side Hampton and Richmond Borough who are third in the table and have won their last six league games. The National League South side have scored a total of seventeen goals in just six games, so they will definitely be a challenge for Heybridge Swifts.
Hereford FC, who pushed League One team Fleetwood Town all the way in the initial Second Round FA Cup tie at the Highbury Stadium, and have taken the Cod Army to a replay at their own ground where they were unbeaten for over a year., before the replay which seen them knocked out of the FA Cup by Fleetwood Town. This particular statistic gives The Bulls a good chance of getting through to the second round. Standing in their way are Dagenham and Redbridge, who have had a reasonably good season so far, as John Still will be looking to achieve promotion back to the Football League at the first attempt.
An all Vanarama National League South clash sees Whitehawk who sit rock bottom of the table, and had to wait until the end of November to get their first win of the season. In the FA Trophy however they got the better of Weymouth in the previous round to see them through to this stage of the competition. Up against the Hawks are St Albans City who are famous in the FA Cup record books, they hold the record for the highest number of goals scored (7) in a match that they actually lost in (8-7) against Dulwich Hamlet, who were also the team to knock them out of the FA Trophy last season.
The last game to feature in this preview is Sutton United Vs Turo City. Now people will think that the Yellows have an advantage over the majority of teams that they play against. Not this time though, Sutton’s opponents Turo City also play on an artificial pitch, giving the National League South side every chance of beating a team that has really surprised everyone this season, and sit second in the league. Paul Doswell will be looking to get back to winning ways following the 4-1 fluke defeat last time out against Leyton Orient.
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