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Emirates FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round Preview……

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Playing in the Emirates FA Cup always gives an extra edge to a game, even in early August.

But when it gets to the Fourth Qualifying Round stage, clubs, players and fans start to dream of ties at Ewood Park against Blackburn Rovers, Bloomfield Road to play Blackpool, Fratton Park against Portsmouth or the Ricoh Arena to take on fallen giants Coventry City.

It`s also the stage where the Vanarama National League clubs make their entry into the world`s biggest cup competition.

One tie hits you smack bang in the eye when surveying the draw!

That`s the game between Evo-Stik League North high-flyers South Shields and National League new boys Hartlepool United.

A crowd of 2,806 packed into the ground to see Shields beat National League North side York City 3-2 in the last round.
But Mariners Park is already sold out with just under 3,000 hoping to continue on Shields` marvellous recent ride of success which has seen them stroll through the Ebac Northern League Second and then First Divisions and take a massive following to see them triumph over Cleethorpes Town at Wembley in last May`s Buildbase FA Vase Final.

Tickets for the tie had been sold out within two hours of going on sale, with Pools having 420 fans there in support.

South Shields` former Northern League rivals, Shildon, quietly fancy their chances of causing an upset when they take the journey south to take on National League strugglers Guiseley AFC.

The Lions haven`t won a game since August 19th and it cost Adam Lockwood his job, being replaced by former Barrow AFC boss Paul Cox.

He seems to have steadied the ship at Nethermoor Park, but they have drawn five of their last seven matches.

Shildon, Northern League winners in 2015 and 2016, were prevented from doing the `treble` by South Shields, but will be keen to emulate 2004 when they last made the First Round Proper.

Former Arsenal winger Ian Allinson will be especially looking forward to Saturday`s early kick-off as his National League South outfit St Albans City host the club he managed for eight years in two spells until 2015 – National League Boreham Wood.

BBC have chosen this tie to show live through their online and iPlayer services, kicking-off at 12.30pm.

Stourbridge reached the Third Round Proper last season before bowing out to a late, late Wycombe Wanderers goal at Adams Park.

Indeed, this is the fifth time in eight seasons that the Evo-Stik League Premier side has featured in the Fourth Qualifying Round stage, which is quite remarkable.

And they have had manager Gary Hackett guiding them through in all of those ties.

Saturday sees them take on National League outfit Macclesfield Town at the War Memorial Ground and this is another which has been flagged up as a potential upset.

Another eagerly-awaited tie takes place in East London where now National League rivals Dagenham & Redbridge and Leyton Orient to battle at Victoria Road.

This is another that could well see a sell-out crowd as the sides have produced several memorable cup ties in the past, the first ever in the First Round twenty-five years ago when John Still was again in charge of a Daggers side that just 5-4 at home to the O’s.

The teams are also in the record books when, following a 1-1 draw in the Johnstone`s Paint Trophy in 2011, the game set a new record at the time for the longest-ever penalty shoot-out in English senior competitions, after ending 14-13 to the Daggers!

Paulton Rovers are currently fifth-bottom in the Evo-Stik League South West table and they host a National League Sutton United outfit who have a terrific record in the competition.

Rovers did reach the First Round in 2009/10 when they pulled out a plum draw at home to then-League One side Norwich City.

However, current Derby and Scotland striker Chris Martin scored four times as the Canaries walloped the part-timers 7-0.

Sutton famously went on to reach the Fifth Round last season when they had a headline-grabbing tie against Arsenal at Gander Green Lane.

It was all set up for a major upset.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger was under considerable pressure at the time and the fact that the game was being played on a 3G pitch also added to the feeling that this might be a big day for the U`s.

Arsenal survived relatively comfortably, however, although Sutton bowed out with their heads held high after a 2-0 defeat.

The only tie on Sunday sees Evo-Stik League Premier leaders Shaw Lane AFC host National League side Barrow AFC at Sheerien Park – a ground the Ducks share with Toolstation Northern Counties East Leaguers Athersley Recreation.

Shaw Lane have, like South Shields, made a rapid rise through the non-League Pyramid, having only been formed in 2012.

Then, as Shaw Lane Aquaforce, they earned promotions from the Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior League to the Northern Counties East League.

They stormed through the First Division and then won the Premier Division in the 2014/15 season and gained promotion to the Evo-Stik First Division South.

They missed out on immediate promotion after losing in the play-offs, but, now as simply Shaw Lane, completed a league and cup `double` to earn a place in the Premier Division.

Barrow sit just outside the relegation places and recently chanced managers, with Paul Cox departing and Mickey Moore taking over.

The Barnsley-based hosts will be fancying their chances of being in the hat for Monday`s draw!

Ambitious Bostik Premier side Billericay Town make the trip to Northamptonshire to take on National League North outfit Brackley Town on their excellent St James`s Park surface.

The visitors have several players in their ranks who have enjoyed good times in the cup at a much later stage, including Jermaine Pennant and Paul Konchesky.

But the Saints are usually hard to beat at home and have a decent recent FA Cup record to uphold.

Eastleigh are sure to have full visiting end at the Silverlake Stadium as the National League side host Evo-Stik League South Premier high-flyers Hereford FC.

Of course, this is a different Bulls club to the one that caused so many historic cup upsets over the years – this being the 2014 incarnate formed out of the ashes of the Hereford United side that was wound-up in the High Court in December 2014.

However, the fans have got behind the new club and they regularly pull in 2000-plus crowds at Edgar Street for league games and take plenty away with them.

They are also in form and currently occupy third place behind two other clubs with past pedigree, Kettering Town and Slough Town – who are also in the draw, taking on Evo-Stik Premier Nantwich Town and Bostik Premier side Folkestone Invicta respectively, so will prove a real test for the Spitfires, who have drawn half of their fourteen league games to date.

The draw…

St Albans City v Boreham Wood
Live on BBC Sport
FC Halifax Town v Tranmere Rovers
Solihull Moors v Ossett Town
South Shields v Hartlepool United
Chorley v Boston United
AFC Telford United v FC United Of Manchester
Harrogate Town v Gainsborough Trinity
Nantwich Town v Kettering Town
Buxton v Gateshead
Guiseley AFC v Shildon
AFC Fylde v Wrexham
Kidderminster Harriers v Chester
Scarborough Athletic v Hyde United
Stourbridge v Macclesfield Town
Brackley Town v Billericay Town
Dagenham & Redbridge v Leyton Orient
Eastleigh v Hereford
Aldershot Town v Torquay United
Bath City v Chelmsford City
Oxford City v Bognor Regis Town
Maidenhead United v Havant & Waterlooville
Haringey Borough v Heybridge Swifts
Woking v Concord Rangers
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Truro City
Dover Athletic v Bromley
Slough Town v Folkestone Invicta
Burgess Hill Town v Dartford
Maidstone United v Enfield Town
Margate v Leatherhead
Paulton Rovers v Sutton United
East Thurrock United v Ebbsfleet United

Sunday

Shaw Lane AFC v Barrow AFC

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About Author

Former Swansea City and Kettering Town defender who has been managing the likes of Kettering Town u18s, Rothwell Town, Desborough Town and Wellingborough Town for 33 years as well as being technical director at AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Began in non-League journalism as editor of Team Talk magazine back in the early 1990s and then as editor of Non-League Daily, joining Pitchero to set up Pitchero Non-League in January 2011. Also works for the National League.

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