FOLLOWING the drama of another FA Cup weekend for non-league clubs across the UK, Monday saw the draw for the first qualifying round of the competition, leaving fans of Gosport and Portchester fearing long away trips as they plan the unlikely road to Wembley Stadium next May.
But relief and excitement were the buzzwords as both sides were given home advantage when the draw was released via social media channels just after 1pm.
Gosport Borough will face a home tie against Plymouth Parkway, who are members of the Southern League South Division One, with this game taking place at Privett Park on September 4. The Cornish side beat Mousehole AFC by three goals to one away on Saturday afternoon, which has earned them the right to travel to the South Coast in just 11 days time.
Borough will be hoping the match is settled in ninety minutes with an expected large home crowd behind them. This is because a replay would mean they will travel to Cornwall on September 7, which is a Tuesday night and would be costly in travel fees. It could further mean that staff and players would have to risk unavailability as they are unlikely to return back to Privett Park until 3am the following morning.
AFC Portchester will hopefully face a more local tie should the match have to be replayed, but must first beat Blackfield & Langley on Tuesday evening. If successful the Royals will host Southern League Premier side Wimborne Town at the On-Site Group Stadium, which will be a real test of Dave Carter’s project so far in charge of the Creekside outfit.
Home support could be invaluable to Portchester as they look to pull off a cup upset in just 10 days, with a huge crowd predicted should they reach this stage, which will be their best FA Cup run and surely increase the monies in the long run.
In other ties Alresford Town, who beat Fareham on Saturday, will travel to Gloucester after being drawn against Longlevens AFC in the next round, while Sholing also face an away journey to either Bradford Town (Somerset) or Alton FC on the first weekend of September. But home advantage does count for any replays, which must be held before the end of September 9 (Thursday) under the competition rules.
The FA have also confirmed prize monies for this stage of the competition, with rewards for all members of the 222 teams that play in this stage. Winning clubs will be receiving a total of £2,250 whilst losing clubs will also collect £750 for exiting the oldest cup competition, with this funding rising with each stage reached. But in the meantime it’s only 10 games until the Wembley final next May as clubs hope to match the success of Leicester, who caught the eye of football fans for their victory over Chelsea three months ago.
The full draw for the FA Cup Qualifying Round can be found here.