Friday night football returns to Ascot United’s Racecourse Ground with the start of the 2016/17 Emirates FA Cup (ko 7.45pm).
The Extra Preliminary Round draw threw together the Yellamen and relegated Milton United for the start of the 136th edition of the competition – just 12 matches from a Wembley semi-final.
Here’s what to expect from Friday nights opener.
Ascot’s defeat to Highmoor-IBIS on Tuesday in the Hellenic Premier League will not have been a surprise to many onlookers, but read into the tie and the manner of the defeat – a last minute winner despite the United goalkeeper being dismissed on 25 minutes – might just have shocked a few.
In short, despite being a man down the Yellamen did not rollover, in fact they equalised Higmoor’s first half lead before stand in goalkeeper Jeff Lamb was beaten again in the 90th minute.
Against Division 1 East Milton, United will be the favourites and expected to advance.
A stronger team than first thought
Despite quite literally not communication out of the Racecourse Ground and a player exodus that greatly boosted the ranks at local rivals, United have quietly put together a side that might not hit the heights of recent Ascot sides but will certainly be a test for some of the clubs top half rivals.
Ben Knight is no slouch in front of goal, Luke Wilson is a handful and Carl Dennison is a proven step five goalkeeper – once his suspension is complete – but he should be available for the FA Cup.
They have though lost the services of former Holyport man Jamie West who turned up on the subs bench for Flackwell Heath on Tuesday night.
Replicating that FA Vase success
United have twice been quarter-finalists in the FA Vase in the last four season. In five seasons of FA Cup ties though they’ve never been passed the Preliminary Round.
Joint-manager Paul McGrotty spoke to the FA website this week and said: “We have been in The FA Cup a few times and never had great success compared to The FA Vase, so it would be nice to get a win on Friday and look forward to a home game against Didcot.
“Two home ties would be very exciting for the club. We enter at an early stage, so we want to build the momentum and start to draw in a crowd.”
See the full draw for the Extra Preliminary and Preliminary Rounds of this seasons FA Cup here. And here is where you can catch all the local FA Cup action.
Main image: Ascot United goalkeeper Carl Dennison by Mark Pugh.