By Connor Steel
THREE LOCAL CLUBS have learnt their opening pathways to glory as the Football Association confirmed the draws for their three named competitions; AFC Portchester, Fareham Town and Fleetlands all featuring in the first two rounds confirmed last week as the route to Wembley looks set to begin early next month.
Draws were made for the FA Cup and FA Vase on Friday afternoon (July 8); with over 700 clubs featuring across the country in the early qualifying rounds of each competition. Prize money will be paid for both winners and losers at every round, increasing depending on progress alongside any ticket gates received.
And the first matches will be played in the FA Cup on August 6 in the Extra Preliminary Round, with Wiltshire side Corsham Town set to host AFC Portchester in a tough game for both sides. The winners of this tie will face an away game in the Preliminary Round versus Sholing FC two weeks later, the Boatmen receiving a bye until this stage due to their position in the non-league footballing pyramid in the Southern League.
Meanwhile Fareham Town have been drawn a home draw against Wessex League Division One outfit Hythe & Dibden with the tie due to be played at Cams Alders on August 6, with the winners set to travel to either Christchurch or Blackfield & Langley in a potential all-Wessex Premier tie two weeks later.
If AFC Portchester and Fareham Town were to win both ties, they would proceed to the 1st Qualifying Round stage of the country’s famous competition. This set of games will be played on September 3 and include teams from the Southern League Premier such as Gosport Borough alongside other step three divisions.
There will be no place in the FA Cup for newly promoted Wessex League side Fleetlands, who join many other clubs missing out this year due to a mixture of ground grading and their lack of experience in Step 6 of non-league football. It is hoped that they will meet eligibility requirements for the 2023-24 campaign, where the Coptermen are set to feature in the popular and historic competition for the first time in their history.
But there is some good news for everybody at Lederle Lane as the club have been selected to participate in the FA Vase for the first time, where they have received a welcome bye for the 1st Qualifying Round in early September. Instead the Coptermen will enter at the 2nd Qualifying Round on September 24, which will see the club play either Downton or Bemerton Heath from the Wessex League in a highly anticipated home tie.
AFC Portchester are another team to receive a bye for the Vase’s 1st Qualifying Round stage, joining the competition at the 2nd Qualifying Round on September 24. On this date the Royals will travel the Solent to the Isle of Wight, where they are set to play the Wessex League Division One side East Cowes Victoria.
Despite strong performances in the Vase over recent year including their run to the fourth round in 2020-21, Fareham Town will enter the non-league competition at the First Qualifying Round; the Creeksiders hosting Romsey Town on August 27 at Cams Alders. The winners of this tie are scheduled to play Bradford Town from the Hellenic Football League Premier at Trowbridge Road, Wiltshire, four weeks later on September 24.
Readers can view the full list of fixtures across the FA Cup, FA Vase, and FA Trophy by clicking the link here; which furthermore has details on the competition rules and sponsors for the upcoming 2023-24 campaign.
PICTURED BY FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION: First two rounds of games drawn for the FA Cup and FA Vase.