The world’s most famous cup competition begins its 140th incarnation on Tuesday 1st September with a number of Berkshire sides involved.
Fans will be allowed in to games but it will be worth checking with the host club before you travel to make sure tickets are available. It’s certainly an unfortunate coincidence that after months and months without competitive action, the draw saw all Berkshire clubs involved handed away ties – but there is one game in the Royal County as Basingstoke Town host Bournemouth FC at Reading City’s Rivermoor.
Details worth knowing are that there are no replay’s, games will go straight to penalties after 90 mins if scores are level. Match winners get £1,125 and a place in the next round – those fixtures will take place on Saturday 12th September.
AFC Portchester v Sandhurst Town (Ticket details)
Step 6 Sandhurst Town head to step 5 Portchester near Fareham in Hampshire. The Fizzers will be almost unrecognisable from the 2019/20 team after ex-boss Michael Herbert moved on to Penn & Tylers Green and there have been no squad announcements – apart from the appointment of manager Ben Nwachukwu – over the usual channels as far as we have seen. The FA Full Time website suggests the club will be able to call on the experienced defender Damien Smith and reported results have seen the Fizzers beat Thames Valley Premier League sides Mortimer 3-0, draw 1-1 with Reading YMCA and beat Hellenic League Wokingham & Emmbrook 3-2.
As for Portchester, the Hampshire side was third in the Wessex League Premier Division at the early termination of the 2019/20 season and have had a couple of decent pre-season results including a 3-0 win over Portsmouth – we’re reliably informed it was an under 23 side the EFL put out.
Aylesbury Vale Dynamos v Windsor
Windsor will go into this matchup between step 5 sides having been well tested during pre-season and based on 2019/20 positions will be favourites to make the Preliminary Round. They’ll also be eager to make up for an early exit in 2019/20.
Mark Cooper’s Royalists look a settled side with a couple of key additions in the centre of defence while Aylesbury have had some impressive pre-season results after finishing 18th of 21 last season, losing just the once to Flackwell Heath.
Christchurch v Ascot United
Wessex League Premier Christchurch were hot on the heals of Portchester at the end of last season and had games in hand to suggest a promotion tilt was not out of the question.
That would suggest a good fixture in prospect with Ascot United the champions-elect of the Combined Counties Premier Division when the season ended. The Yellamen have maintained their squad from last season and added a couple of to the squad including Ed Jabbari and Josh Masters, the latter from Holyport.
Travelling fans can pay at the gate on the night.
Hamble Club v Reading City
Wessex Premier Hamble had a number of good wins during pre-season but suffered a 2-1 defeat to East Preston in their final practice match before competitive action begins. The Cityzens have been impressive themselves and have had some good results against higher division opposition including Leatherhead and Hartley Wintney.
Simon Johnson’s side have looked defensively solid especially and this should be a good competitive fixture.
Spelthorne Sports v Virginia Water (Ticket details)
Virginia Water will likely be underdogs to Combined Counties League Premier Spelthorne Sports – nearest challengers to Ascot last season. The Waters though have had some encouraging pre-season results including a narrow 2-1 defeat to Southern League Premier Division Walton Casuals.
Westbury United v Binfield
A first match in charge for Carl Withers and Jamie McClurg with some big shoes to fill, but the Moles should be confident going into the match against Western League Premier Westbury United with the level of experience and know-how at their disposal.
The Moles were challenging for the Hellenic Premier title at the end of last season and should have at least earned promotion had the season finished. Binfield will be favourites for this one in Wiltshire – the home side were mid-table at the end of the 2019/20 season.
What happens next?
The draw for the Preliminary Round has already been made and with step 4 Berkshire sides Bracknell Town and Thatcham Town entering the fray.
- Badshot Lea or Amesbury Town v Bracknell Town
- Bashley or Whitchurch United v Christchurch or Ascot United
- Cowes Sports or Totton & Eling v Hamble Club or Reading City
- Hanwell Town v Spelthorne Sports or Virginia Water
- Thatcham Town v AFC Dunstable or Hallen
- Wantage Town v Aylesbury Vale Dynamos or Windsor
- Westbury United or Binfield v AFC Totton
- Wimborne Town v AFC Portchester or Sandhurst Town
The full Preliminary Round draw is listed here.