After a hectic weekend of FA Cup football, it is time to sit back and reflect on an eventful first round of the best cup competition in world football. The magic of the FA Cup was certainly alive and kicking. Here are Non-League Daily’s four favourite FA Cup results.
What better way to start the article than the game that started the bumper weekend of football, as 7th-tier Horsham travelled to League 1 side Barnsley on Friday Night.
As of 00:00 on Friday, Barnsley were priced at 1.18 to emerge victorious, with these odds slashing even more when team news was announced. Barnsley are going well in League One and were fifth in the league at the time of the match. It seemed a formality that the Tykes would comfortably dispatch their Isthmian Premier League opponents, especially given the fact that they were only eighth.
However, what unfolded next was the epitome of what the FA Cup is all about. Despite Max Watters opening the scoring for the hosts in the 14th minute, the Hornets did not let this phase them and dug deep.
Striker Shamir Fenelon equalised in the 22nd minute, before a James Hammond penalty 16 minutes later sent the visiting fans into delirium. A Fabio Jalo equaliser just before halftime sent the sides in level at 2-2. In the 64th minute, defender Mael Durand de Gevigney thought he had scored the winner for Neil Collins side. However, Tom Richards had other ideas, levelling once again late on, sparking jubilant scenes for the victors. Dom Di Paola’s side managed to hold on for the 3-3 draw.
They have been rewarded with a replay against their League 1 opponents at the Camping World Stadium, with the extra income crucial for teams at this level.
The two sides grounds may only be a 14-minute drive from each other, but they couldn’t be further apart in many other aspects. Charlton’s Valley Ground has a 27,111. Cray Valley Paper Mills Badgers Sports Ground has a 1,000-person capacity and an average attendance of just 120. The Addicks play in League 1 and have been a Premier League club. The Millers play in the Isthmian League South East (8th tier). However, on Sunday evening, they were equals, with Cray Valley PM holding Charlton to a 1-1 draw, despite the five-league gap.
Michael Appleton rang the changes for this game, changing his entire starting XI from the midweek 3-2 victory at Wigan Athletic. Confidence was certainly high in the Addicks camp as they prepared to face a side five leagues below them. However, Steve McKimm’s side had lost just once in 19 games in all competitions and weren’t to be taken lightly. Charlton learned this the hard way.
When Scott Fraser rounded the Millers keeper after just nine minutes to put Charlton 1-0, it seemed a rout was incoming, but it was anything but. Despite an abundance of first-half chances for the hosts, they went into halftime only 1-0 up, giving the visitors hope of an unlikely result.
That hope turned into a reality in the 48th minute when Charlton defender Lucas Ness invertedly diverted a Kyrell Lisbie cross past Sam Walker, drawing the away side level. Kyrell, the 19-year-old son of Charlton legend Kevin, was evidently jubilant as he looked to continue on his father's legacy.
Charlton piled on the pressure, racking up a 3.16 xG, but the Millers defence held firm. Box-to-box midfielder Sonny Black had a few opportunities but wasn’t able to fire Cray Valley Paper Mills towards a historic win.
However, a draw is still a tremendous result for the perrinal underdogs, and a bumper crowd is expected at the Badgers Sports Ground in a highly anticipated replay.
Sunday’s early kickoff provided a potentially classic game as National League leaders Chesterfield hosted League One table-toppers Portsmouth at a sold-out SMH Group Stadium.
The Spireites were in a rich vein of form, winning 12 of their last 13 games in all competitions, with a draw at Maidenhead the only thing preventing a 100% record at this time. Paul Cook, who was reunited with his former Pompey side, had led his side to eight home wins and one draw in all competitions.
Portsmouth came into this game as the highest-ranked team in the competition, with Pompey unbeaten in 26 games, putting them 10th for the all-time unbeaten record.
However, this run was ended by a 1-0 Chesterfield win. Tom Naylor, who made 112 appearances for Portsmouth, scored the decisive goal in the 39th minute in a tight, cagey, and nervy affair that lacked much meaningful action.
With both teams flying high at the top of their respective leagues, promotion looks likely for Portsmouth and Chesterfield. The Spireites host League 1 opponents in Leyton Orient in round two.
By the time 15:00 came about on Saturday, eighth-tier Ramsgate were one of the lowest-ranked teams still left in the competition. They faced off against an out-of-sorts Woking side who were three leagues above them. The Rams were aiming to reach the second round of the FA Cup for the first time in their history, while Woking were trying to avoid a cupset and get close to matching their run in 1991, which saw them lose to Everton in the fourth round.
Ramsgate came into this game in fantastic form, sitting just outside the playoffs despite having many games in hand over their competitors due to their cup run. Ben Smith’s side has lofty ambitions of being promoted to step seven and currently looks well on course to achieve this.
Dennon Lewis opened the scoring for the visitors, making it two goals in three games for the 26-year-old. It seemed the Cardinals were heading towards a half-time lead when Tijan Jadama equalised for the Rams. In the 72nd minute, a smart corner routine fell to Lee Martin, who dispatched past William Jaaskelainen in the Woking goal.
Ramsgate were good value for their lead and held on to set up a second-round tie away at AFC Wimbledon.
Now, of course the Swindon vs Aldershot game was the stand-out game of the round, with the National League visitors defeating their League 2 hosts 7-4. The game was so good, it will have a separate preview, with a look at Aldershot's prolific front three.
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