Mixed emotions for our non-league teams in the FA Cup after extra-preliminary round is staged
Six of our area's sides kept their FA Cup dreams alive while three fell at the first hurdle of the extra-preliminary round.
Kirkley & Pakefield, Norwich United, Great Yarmouth Town, Wisbech Town, Thetford Town and Fakenham Town – who earned a replay – still have their name in the hat after the prestigious competition got underway on Friday night.
However, Gorleston, Diss and Swaffham Town can forget about enjoying a cup run for another year after they crashed out of the competition having played just 90 minutes of football.
On Friday, Thurlow Nunn Premier Division Thetford became the first outfit to book their place in the preliminary round by seeing off lower-level Swaffham 1-0. Substitute Steve Crawshaw netted for the Brecklanders while the First Division visitors had Mark Allibone sent off for two yellow cards.
The triumph caps a fine start to the campaign for Mark Scott's men who will welcome same-league Norwich United in the preliminary round on August 30 after the Planters saw off Deeping Rangers on Saturday.
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They edged their highly-rated United Counties League (UCL) Premier opponents 1-0 thanks to a goal from former Thetford striker Matt Blake.
Wisbech Town got their hopes up and running with an impressive 3-1 triumph at Sleaford Town. Fraser Bayliss got his name on the scoresheet while summer signing, and highly-rated hitman, Josh Ford struck twice. That away win has earned the UCL Prem Fenmen a home tie in just under a fortnight against former Thurlow Nunn Premier rivals Kirkley & Pakefield.
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The Royals beat Ely City 3-0 on Saturday with Ian Hunter bagging. Their two-goal king was Kyle Baker who scored both of his strikes from the penalty spot.
Ricci Butler's decent beginning as Yarmouth boss showed no signs of slowing down when they stunned higher-level Huntingdon to book their place in the next phase of the world-famous knockout event. The Bloaters' won 1-0 at The Wellesley with Mitch Forbes claiming his fourth goal of the season.
Butler said: 'We came up against a very good outfit but on the day we were the better team and fully deserve to be in the next round. I am extremely proud of our squad of players.'
One side who will have to go again to join Yarmouth and company in the preliminary round are Fakenham. They needed a late equaliser from Ben Boyce to pick up a more-than-creditable draw at Newmarket Town. The two sides will try again at Clipbush Park on Wednesday evening as they look to get their hands on the £1,500 prize money – and a trip to Godmanchester Rovers.
It was a less enjoyable weekend for an understrength Gorleston, who lost 3-0 at Mildenhall Town, and Diss Town. The latter's woeful start to the campaign continued with a 5-1 drubbing on their own turf to in-form UCL Prem outfit Holbeach United – who have enjoyed a 100pc start to the new season.
Dereham Town and Wroxham, both from Ryman Division One North, enter the competition at the next stage. Their preliminary round fixtures will see Town host St Ives while their Step Four rivals will stage a Norfolk derby against Yarmouth – drawn against a team from higher up the non-league pyramid for the second time in this term's FA Cup.
In league action, King's Lynn Town Reserves suffered their maiden First Division defeat as they slipped to a 3-2 reverse in their second match at home to Long Melford. Nathan Daw and Jack Frohawk netted for the Linnets' second string who also had Robert Palmer sent off.
Downham Town's winless opening continued as they lost 2-0 at Debenham LC. That's now three matches and as many defeats for the perennial strugglers.
Dereham Town Reserves also went into the weekend in the same position, having lost their first two games. But it didn't get any better for the Aldiss Park outfit's second string as they fell to a 4-1 loss at Stowmarket Town in front of just 38 paying spectators.