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FA Cup 1st Round: Non League Watch

The first round is now done and dusted, and we know the teams that will be in the hat for the second round draw, barring those ties that went to replays. So how did the non-league representatives do?

Redbridge FC got themselves a draw

The lowest ranked team left in the competition, Redbridge FC, did themselves proud as they held Oxford City to a goalless draw at Oakside. City, who are top of the Southern Premier Division, were favourites to win, but will have to do it in a replay now. Bath City, bottom of the Conference Premier, have got themselves a home replay after their 1-1 draw at League Two side Dagenham & Redbridge. The Romans took the lead on eleven minutes through midfielder Marc Canham. Daggers equaliser came four minutes before the break, striker Brian Goodall getting his first of the campaign to take the game to a replay. Bath City will certainly fancy their chances of a causing an upset in that one.

In the other games involving League v Non-League, two teams got wins, and two more will take their ties to replays. The winners were Luton Town and Fleetwood Town. The Hatters saw off League Two outfit Northampton Town, the only goal coming ten minutes from time courtesy of young midfielder Adam Watkins. As for Fleetwood Town, they went one better by downing League One side Wycombe Wanderers 2-0. The goals in this one came from strikers Andy Mangan and Jamie Vardy. The Cod Army even had to play the second half with ten men, as Richard Brodie was sent off on the stroke of halftime. These two results are probably not too surprising, in terms of the clubs’ positions in their respective leagues; Both Wycombe and Northampton are fighting relegation, while Luton and Fleetwood have ambitions of becoming Football League clubs for next season.

The two non-league teams facing replays against their league opponents are Grimsby Town and Stourbridge. The Mariners got a good 0-0 draw with League Two playoff chasers Port Vale, and will fancy their chances back at Blundell Park in the replay. Stourbridge, meanwhile, came within two minutes of eliminating League Two’s bottom club Plymouth Argyle at the first attempt. The Glassboys were 3-2 up until Onismor Bhasera levelled for The Pilgrims, who had two men sent off in those hectic final ten minutes. Plymouth will not enjoy their trip to the Midlands for the replay, and I can see Stourbridge progressing.

There were also eight all non-league ties in the first round, with three of them needing replays. Draws between Hinckley United and Tamworth, Maidenhead United and Aldershot, and Cambridge United and Wrexham will all be sorted out with replays. The biggest result of the day, though, came at The Testwood Stadium, where AFC Totton thumped Bradford Park Avenue 8-1. Four goals in each half for The Stags saw them progress to the second round draw for the first time in their history. Bradofrd PA did have two players sent off, the first after just eleven minutes.

Technically, Sutton United caused an upset by beating Conference Premier side Kettering Town, although United are second in Conference South, while their opponents are battling relegation. Craig Watkins got the only goal of the game after 64 minutes. Not a bad way to celebrate his 100th appearance for the club. Another Conference South side, Chelmsford City, hammered Premier side AFC Telford 4-0 with goals from Aiden Palmer, Craig Parker and a brace from skipper David Rainford.

There were no such shocks at Croft Park, where visiting side Gateshead of the Conference Premier beat North outfit Blyth Spartans 2-0. Jon Shaw and Micky Cummins got the goals to settle this local derby. Finally, Salisbury City avoided a shock by seeing off Southern Premier side Arlesey Town 3-1.

Will The Shay witness a massive shock?

There is one huge game today, of course, as Conference North side FC Halifax Town host League One’s runaway leaders Charlton Athetic at The Shay. It is undoubtedly the biggest game in the new Shaymen’s life. The club were formed in 2008 after the liquidation of the original Halifax Town AFC due to heavy debts. There hasn’t been a monumental shock yet in the first round, maybe this could be it?

Cooper Canned

Blue Square Premier side Darlington have sacked manager Mark Cooper after a poor start to the season which sees the club languishing in 14th place in the table. Cooper, who had led the team to their first piece of silverware with FA Trophy glory at Wembley in May, has overseen eight defeats in the first eighteen games of the season.

Chairman Raj Singh said that the run of form was unacceptable, and closer to that of a side fighting relegation not aiming for promotion. Cooper had been in charge since 2010 when he replaced Simon Davey. He made his name at Kettering, where he led the team back into the Blue Square Premier, before reaching the fourth round of the FA Cup, eventually being knocked out by Fulham. His big break came when he was appointed by Peterborough United as Darren Ferguson’s replacement in November 2009. However, he won just one of his thirteen games in charge and was dismissed.

Overall, he had a decent win percentage of 43% while at Darlington, but with the club already seventeen points behind leaders Wrexham, the board decided to act. We will have to wait and see who they replace Cooper with, but it does seem a strange decision. The club may be lower than they had hoped, but the Conference is a very difficult league with maybe a dozen clubs thinking that they can get promoted this season, and Cooper is a very good manager who will surely find himself another job sooner rather than later. Don’t be surprised to see him come back to haunt Darlo this season.