No less than seven of Sussex local non-league football teams explode into Fa Cup fever this weekend - and here Colin Bowman previews the games..
Going into the third Qualifying Round we can all be very proud of how well Sussex has fared in this prestigious and famous old competition.
For managers, players and fans there will be real sense of excitement as the race for fame and glory is on. While for Chairmen they will be looking at the financial aspects as an eye watering £15,000 is on offer for one glorious afternoon's work.
As per previous reports here with my preview of the seven matches in order of difficulty.
Lancing make the most of opportunity
On Tuesday September 11 I ventured to Culver Road to watch Lancing put up a very solid display against Phoenix.
The SCFL County league team were eventually beaten three nil and all connections thought the FA cup dream was over. However, Kent outfit Phoenix had played and illegal player which after investigation handed Lancing a route back into the cup.
On Tuesday October 2, under a wave of excitement the club travelled to Bostik Premier League Hendon.
As expected the hosts took the lead but on 78 mins Jack Langford smashed home an equaliser to send the tie into a replay. Manager Mark Pulling was obviously delighted. He said: “We’ve shown what we are capable of in one off games in the FA Cup this season. Hendon did have a few chances but so did we, I’d say the draw was probably a fair result."
The replay will be at Culver Road (3pm) on Sunday. It's sure to be a thrilling afternoon and being a Sunday the club will be hoping for a massive crowd to come and watch. Whilst Hendon play two levels above Lancing that really wont mean a thing come KO.
The Hawks of East Brighton are going great guns in the Bostik Premier League this season and they are no strangers to FA Cup glory.
When you have around 200 Ultra’s singing for 90 mins on your side anything came happen. After a brilliant away win at East Thurrock in the previous round young manager Jude MacDonald said in his post-match interview
He said: "I am pretty rubbish in these draws and always get a tough one, we will probably end up with Billericay away!"
Well 24 hours later and sure enough it was Billericay away. The Essex team are the talk of non-league football right now with maverick boss Glenn Tamplin very much in the news.
Love him or hate him the man has put his money where is mouth is and built something very special in New Lodge. A brand-new stadium which is good enough for Conference Football and beyond. Plus, his team are now flying high in Conference South.
Glenn has recently stepped away from the club after yet more bad publicity which will make this FA Cup tie even more dramatic.
Its going to be very tough for our Sussex lads in Essex but it’s an experience that all connections will be looking forward to.
Hastings Travel to stock broker belt Hitchin.
After an absolute stunning 4-3 victory at Southern Premier Leiston it’s a certainty that United’s manager Chris Agutter was preying for a home tie at Pilot Field.
However, those pesky FA Cup balls didn’t quite work out as yet another trip north beckons. This time our famous old East Sussex club, of Bostik South East, have to travel to leafy Hitchin (Hertfordshire) to take on Southern Prem Canaries.
It sure to be a fascinating trip for Us fans as the stadium is very traditional indeed. The home end terrace is still decked with wooded steps. Also, the town is very pretty with some great pubs to visit. Plus, I predict that Hastings might travel back to Sussex with that home tie after all in the shape of a replay.
SEE ALSO Can Hastings United recreate the FA Cup magic of six years ago? | Eight-man Hastings hold on for amazing FA Cup win | Hastings claim higher level scalp in FA Cup
Lewes face a long trip West
Bostik Premier Lewes will have to pick themselves up after a very disappointing night at the Dripping Pan this week.
After leading against Worthing, it all went wrong for manager Darren Freeman and his troops in the dying embers of the game. However, FAC action will be the perfect tonic and the Rooks have been excellent on the road this season. In the previous round they had to travel to Kings Langley near Watford and took that tie to a replay. I trundled along to the Dripping Pan and shared and excellent game of football where the hosts just kept plugging away to hold on two one.
The prize is an away day to Spa town Bath and a visit to famous old Twerton Park. Bath City are an awesome team operating in Conference South and are going great guns. However, I just feel that there is going to be a Cup upset and Lewes could be the ones to provide it. Rooks fans to have a sensational weekend!
Worthing have excellent chance at Moneyfields
Woodside Road outfit Worthing are going from strength to strength in the Bostik Premier League.
Manager Adam Hinshelwood has got his team flying so wont be fearing a trip to the shadows of Fratton Park Portsmouth to take on Southern South Moneyfields. Its not a team that will be that familiar to Sussex football folk but they do have a rich history and importance in the Hampshire leagues.
You feel that Worthing will just have to show their obviously strength and skill levels plus work hard to progress at the first time of asking. Successful trip to Hampshire.
Hornets will need to ‘sting’ again at Culver Road
Bostik South East Horsham are flying at their temporary home Culver Road. The team are mid table and have impressed in the FA cup. In the last round all connections were treated to something very special indeed when the Hornets beat Heybridge Swifts four three at home. The club were rewarded with a home tie against Poole Town of Conference South.
One player to watch out for is real hero here in Sussex and that is striker Rob O’Toole. Rob is a real gentleman, but one hell of a player and it would be fitting if he was to score the winner. In Mark Dunford’s excellent piece today the club are running a free coach for younger fans from Horsham to Lancing which will hopefully boost an already electric atmosphere.
Its going to be fantastic day all around for the Hornets and you wouldn’t be surprised to see them get a very positive result.
SEE ALSO Horsham FC will get some raucous support for their FA Cup tie with Poole Town | ‘It would have been a travesty had it gone to a replay’ - Horsham boss on fully deserved FA Cup win over Heybridge Swifts
Glamour tie at Eastbourne Borough!
With out a doubt the glamour tie is at Priory Lane Eastbourne when our senior non league team of Conference South take on the mite of Dulwich also of Conference South. Both teams have a rich pedigree in the Fac and have huge support.
There isn’t a lot more to say then if you are in the area make sure to get along. As hosts you have to take Borough to win in a cauldron of noise and support.
As announced this evening by my twitter account @sussexintheFAc1 Hastings United have been drawn out of the hat so I will be heading to Hitchin on Saturday afternoon. Its going to be an ultra-exciting weekend of FAC football here in Sussex. The best of luck to all our teams and let’s hope we have a myriad of wonderful stories to reflect on next week.