The Vanarama National League takes a break this weekend to make way for the Buildabase FA Trophy, where 2016 winners FC Halifax Town take on league rivals Macclesfield Town at the MBi Shay Stadium.
Saturday’s game against the Silkmen will be the first of three occasions in under three weeks where we face John Askey’s side, as we begin to enter the gruelling Christmas fixture period.
Despite the break from the league, there is still plenty of news involving the teams in our division, and we start with the only midweek National League game played this week.
It was late drama between Torquay United and Gateshead, which is considered one of the longest journeys in English football, especially for the twenty Gateshead fans who made the 760-mile round trip.
It looked as if the long journey was well worth it, as Jordan Preston slotted home to put the away side 1-0 up inside the opening 30 minutes, following Alex Davey’s header striking the bar for the home side just moments before.
The Heed kept their one goal advantage late on into the second half, despite going close to doubling their lead through Danny Johnson before the break, although it was not to be for the away side.
In the most heart-breaking fashion, Gateshead saw themselves concede in injury time following a loose ball from a corner. Sean McGinty was first to it as the home side secured what could be a vital point in their search for survival come the end of the season.
The result sees Torquay sit five points from safety, whilst Gateshead are one place above the Shaymen in fifteenth.
Elsewhere, two teams represented our league in this week’s FA Cup second round replays, with the hope of setting up a desired third round tie.
Firstly, Woking faced a difficult away trip to League One’s Peterborough United, although the away side showed no signs of struggling early on as Inih Effiong fired the Cardinals ahead inside 20 minutes.
However, under ten minutes later and Posh levelled through Michael Doughty, before taking the lead going into half time thanks to Jack Marriott.
The National League side were not down and out just yet, however. Mid-way through the second half and it was all square once again, Matt Young this time firing his side level. However, any hopes of a revival for the underdogs were soon quashed.
It only took the League One outfit less than a minute to regain the lead as Marriott earned his brace, with this being the start of Woking’s demise. A Marcus Maddison penalty, after Danny Lloyd was fouled in the area, and Gwion Edwards’ strike sealed a 5-2 win for the home side, and a trip to Championship side Aston Villa in round three.
Finally, the other FA Cup tie involving our fellow National League side saw AFC Fylde travel to League One leaders Wigan Athletic, in what was a thrilling game between the two.
Newcastle United loanee Ivan Toney put the home side ahead deep into the first half, before Fylde’s Simon Grand finished from close range to level the scores going into the break.
The second half was to be cruel on the travelling supporters, as Fylde took the lead through their talisman Danny Rowe, whose shot deflected off the post to give the visitors hope of causing a major upset.
However, the Latics showed their quality, and proved too strong in the end. Will Grigg, the star of Wigan’s 2015/16 season, levelled with ten minutes to go before securing the victory and his second goal just four minutes later.
The result sees Wigan set up a trip to Premier League side Bournemouth, whilst Fylde will now face Chester in the FA Trophy this weekend.
Read more posts by Ben Armitage