Here at TFF, we are having a week dedicated to the lower league and non-league sides that have made it to the first round of the FA Cup. For the non-league sides, just reaching the first round proper is a major achievement, as some may have had to battle their way through as many as six different ties (not including potential replays) to be in the hat.

So, with that in mind, the team at TFF asked me to write a mini review of my Weston-super-Mare side in the competition, how we have done, and whether or not I have found the magic of the FA Cup to be alive and well…

Season 2011-12: In Wheatland’s first season in charge, Weston are battling towards an eventual promotion from the Blue Square South…

Back in October 2011, my Weston-super-Mare side was flying high at the top of the Blue Square South. Games were coming thick and fast, and with a strikeforce consisting of Cherno Samba, Trevor Benjamin, Marc Hughes and Jamil Adam, injuries to my key men were a big worry.

On top of that, we entered the FA Cup at the second qualification round, to be played on the 1st of October. We were drawn at home against really non-league North Leigh, hardly a glamour tie and one that did not excite the fans. Nevertheless, we took the game seriously and came out of it with a 2-1 win, courtesy of goals from Ben Kirk and Cherno Samba. Our FA Cup journey had begun.

North Leigh game

The next round, played two weeks later, saw us drawn away to Chesham, another powerhouse of English football. There are many ways of looking at a tie like this, but I was just happy that it provided a relatively easy path to the next round.

I shouldn’t be allowed to predict the outcomes of games; this was far from the easy game I was expecting. They didn’t threaten much, but we were forced to work very hard to get the win and we used up far more energy than I would have liked. Nonetheless, we had made it through another game, thanks to Jamil Adam’s goal, and were one step closer to potentially bagging a big tie against a proper league club.

Chesham game

All that stood in our way, at this point, was Truro City in the fourth qualification round, the last rung on the ladder before reaching the first round proper. Truro were becoming something of a bogey club for my Weston side, plus they were going to end up pushing us all the way for promotion this season, so I really, really wanted to win this game. After my initial misgivings about having to play extra games in the competition, I was just starting to enjoy our involvement in the FA Cup.

Which was, of course, cue for the dream to end. We took the lead early through another Jamil Adam strike, but subsequently fell apart as Truro roared back into the game. Two goals in quick succession ripped the heart out of our boys, and we ended up falling limply to defeat. Our dream was over before it had really begun.

Truro cup game

Truro went on to make it past Carshalton in the first round of the Cup, before being knocked out by Brentford in the second round. I still think that this was a bit of a missed opportunity for us, considering what was to come from my side over the rest of the season, but at least we always had next year…

Season 2012-13: After an excellent first year, Weston are making an unlikely charge towards back-to-back promotions…

This season, we had a score to settle. We had been knocked out by a rival in the competition last year, and this year I was determined not to be disappointed again. Our journey this time began near the end of October 2012 with a fourth qualification round tie against Barnstaple Town. We were in excellent form and had gone the entire month of October unbeaten to find ourselves sitting in a surprising second place in the Blue Square Premier. Barnstaple, on the other hand, were bumping along in some regional division and had scraped through earlier qualification ties against the Met Police and Wingate and Finchley. This, surely, wouldn’t be a challenge.

I was right to be confident; we thrashed them 6-0 with six different scorers on target. They didn’t put up much resistance and we were comfortable whilst also showing a ruthlessness that was sometimes lacking in our play during the rest of the season.

barnstaple-game

No messing about, then, we had comfortably qualified for the FA Cup first round proper! Finally, we had made it, only to be rewarded for our hard work with an away tie against Blue Square South side, Boreham Wood. I was disappointed that we hadn’t drawn one of the ‘bigger’ sides at home, but I was reasonably confident that we could get through this tie and then get some more, much needed, prize money.

Unfortunately, my players had other ideas and we bombed out of the Cup thanks to a demoralising 3-1 loss at the hands of a rampant Boreham Wood side. They took they lead, Big Cherno equalised, but then they took the game by the scruff of the neck and went on to score two more to put the game beyond us. We had no answer to them and I was very disappointed with the lads. Luckily, we bounced back in our next game, at home to Truro, to finally end our hoodoo against our new rivals.

boreham-wood-game

Boreham advanced to the second round, only to be knocked out by Blue Square Premier side Lincoln City. Now, I am not saying we would have beaten Lincoln, but we might have done (as we did in the league), and if we had managed to do that we could have finally gotten a glamour tie, as the winner of Lincoln and Boreham Wood went on to play Wigan Athletic (of Premier League fame) in the third round. This was a massive opportunity missed, but that is just how football goes…

So far, the FA Cup has not been kind to my Weston-super-Mare side. The further we as a club progress, the more seriously we will be able to take it as, at the moment, we do not have any realistic chances of progressing very far anyway. I am looking forward to the epic FA Cup ties still yet to come, but I fear it will be a long time yet before “Weston-super-Mare AFC” is engraved on that famous trophy…

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