FA Trophy Semi Final Draw
A look at the draw for the last four of non-league football’s premier cup competition.
The draw has been made for this season’s FA Trophy semi finals, and will see York City face Luton Town, while Newport County have been paired with Wealdstone. As we are at the last four stage, the ties now become two-legged affairs, with the first leg on Saturday, March 10th, and the returns a week later.
York City welcome Luton Town to Bootham Crescent for their first leg, after beating Grimsby Town in the quarter final. Scott Kerr grabbed the only goal of the game for The Minstermen with just seven minutes left. Luton, meanwhile, saw off Gateshead with a 2-0 win thanks to goals from John Paul Kissock and Keith Keane. It is hard to imagine this being an FA Trophy game, with both sides of course being league clubs just a few years ago. The two sides have met twenty two times in total, with Luton well ahead with eleven wins to York’s six, although York have won the only cup match between the sides, a 2-0 success in the FA Cup way back in January 1979 (three months before I was born)! As far as the Trophy is concerned, Luton have never reached the final, while York have appeared in one final, losing to Stevenage in 2008-09.
The two games are sure to make for an epic tie between the sides currently in third and fifth places in the Conference. York boast 15-goal hitman Jason Walker in their ranks, while Danny Crow and Amari Morgan-Smith both have nine for The Hatters. It is really tough to call this tie, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the second leg go into extra time.
The other tie sees Conference strugglers County face Isthmian Premier League side Wealdstone FC. The first leg of this tie takes place in Wales, and County will be hoping to put the tie to bed in their home meeting. Wealdstone have some history in the competition, winning the 1985 final against against Boston United. They also won the Conference title the same year. Newport have never reached the final. While they are the lowest ranked of the semi finalists, Wealdstone will not be an easy opponent. They have beaten two higher division opponents in the last two rounds; a 1-0 win over Conference South Dartford in their third round replay, and then a fine 2-1 win at Conference side Cambridge United in the quarter final. Newport, meanwhile, narrowly avoided an upset of their own in the quarter final, coming back from two down to win 3-2 at NPL crisis side Northwich Victoria.
Another reason for Newport to be wary is Richard Jolly. The 28 year old striker has bagged an impressive twenty eight goals in thirty three appearances this season, including nine in seven in the Trophy. County, meanwhile, have two players in double figures; Sam Foley and Jake Harris have ten goals apiece. The sides have met twice before, in the 2009-10 FA Trophy First Round. The tie was decided in a replay, with Newport County scoring the only goal of the two games in extra time. On paper, Newport should really progress to their first final, but if the tie is still alive by the time the sides head to Wealdstone for the second leg, don’t rule out The Stones.
The final will of course be contested at Wembley, and takes place on Saturday, May 12th.