Back in August 2019, 26 of our teams set off on the road to Wembley in the Emirates FA Cup. All of them knew that they were not going to make it, but the Cup at our level is more about progressing through a few round, banking some of the prize money that is on offer, and to try and secure a giant-killing act against a team from a higher league that will live long in the memory.
The action started on Friday 9th August in the Extra Preliminary Round as Skelmersdale United hosted NCEL side Penistone Church, with the scores finishing 1-1. Onto the next day and all bar one of the remianing sides were in action, with eight all-NWCFL ties taking place. Several sides were making their FA Cup bow, including Longridge Town who had the actual Cup on display at their tie with Barnoldswick Town, courtesy of the Football Association. It was a day to remember for Longridge, with Paul Turner scoring a hat-trick in a memorable 6-1 win.
Another side making their debut was Avro, who were involved in a classic cup tie at home to Litherland REMYCA. Avro found themselves two behind inside eight minutes before storming into life, and by the 24th minute they were ahead. Back came REMY, with two quickfire Liam Diggle goals putting them 4-3 up after just 34 minutes. Suprisingly there were no further goals with the Liverpool side progressing.
The third debutant side on the Saturday was Rylands who went down 2-0 at Runcorn Town, whilst the fourth debutant was Lower Breck, Jamie Henders' late goal not enough to prevent a 2-1 loss at Charnock Richard.
Other all-NWCFL ties saw Burscough twice fall behind at AFC Liverpool before levelling, with Deklan Hill's penalty four minutes from time giving them a 3-2 win. Also winning on the road was West Didsbury & Chorlton who won 2-1 at Squires Gate, with Winsford United winning at Vauxhall Motors by the same scorelne, two goals in the last 15 minutes seeing Winsford through.
One of the biggest wins of the day came at Silver Street as Irlam hosted Ashton Athletic, with a dominant home performance giving them a 4-0 victory.
Perhaps the most headline making result came courtesy of 1874 Northwich, who put in a superb display to win 2-1 away at Northern Premier League side Clitheroe. It wasn't the biggest away win for our sides though, that came from Padiham with James Dean scoring twice in a 4-0 win at Athersley Recreation. Whitchurch Alport were another winner on the road as two early goals helped them on their way to a 2-1 win at Malvern Town.
Former NWCFL side Silsden, who were laterally moved to the NCEL last summer, scored two minutes into stoppage time to record a 2-2 draw at Northwich Victoria. Congleton Town were also held to a draw, 1-1 at home to Westfields with both goals coming inside 13 minutes.
Hanley Town were involved in a great game with Leicester Road, with the Stoke side leading, trailing 2-1 and then equalising just before the break. However a Leicester goal three minutes into the second half secured them a 3-2 win. Abbey Hey had a day to forget as they lost 5-1 at Liversedge, with Bootle also going out to NCEL opposition, Eccleshill United beating them 2-1.
Onto the Sunday and our fifth debutant of the season made their FA Cup bow. This was Stone Old Alleynians who travelled to Worcester City. Jack Tomlinson put them ahead in the first minute, but Worcester ran out 4-1 winners.
The midweek replays saw Skelmersdale United run riot at Penistone Church with Skem winning 5-2. Aidan Thomas also ran riot for his Westfields side as he scored all his side's goals to beat Congleton Town 4-1. And Northwich Victoria had a scare as they let slip a 3-0 lead at Silsden before John Connolly scored with four minutes remaining, Vics winning 4-3.
Into the Preliminary Round and the dramatic tie of the day came at Northwich Victoria as they hosted Prescot Cables. The visitors took the lead with six minutes remaining but TWO goals in stoppage time from Thomas Kilifin put Vics through against their Northern Premier League opponents.
Also facing a Northern Premier League sides were Irlam, with Jordan Buckley hitting the winner in a 3-2 win away at Stocksbridge Park Steels. Winsford United drew 3-3 at Ramsbottom United, Winsford equalising three times in that game, whilst Padiham drew 1-1 with Marine. Runcorn Town and West Didsbury & Chorlton both returned from Northern Premier League sides with goalless draws, these coming at Radcliffe and Stalybridge Celtic respectively.
Honorable mentions go to Burscough who lost 2-0 at Trafford, with Skelmersdale United losing 2-1 at City of Liverpool.
Scott McGowan scored four times for 1874 Northwich as they beat Handsworth Parramore 6-0. And Whitchurch Alport progressed to the First Qualifying Round for the first time after a superb 3-0 win at Colshill Town.
Other games saw Charnock Richard and Longridge Town draw 1-1, whilst Litherland REMYCA went down 2-1 at Sheffield.
Into midweek and Charnock Richard beat Longridge Town 2-0 before a Ruben Jerome hat-trick saw Ramsbottom beat Winsford 3-1. Craig Hobson also hit a hat-trick as Stalybrdge beat West Didsbury & Chorlton 3-2, with Marine beating Padiham 3-0. The final replay saw Runcorn Town knock out Radcliffe who led for much of the game, Runcorn's goals coming in the 89th and 94th minutes.
So into the 1st Qualifying Round and Irlam had the performance of the day when they won 4-0 at Charnock Richard. Scott McGowan made it six FA Cup goals for the season with his double seeing off Pickering Town 2-0. Runcorn Town let slip at two goal lead at Newcastle Benfield, before Craig Cairns scored the winner to give them a 3-2 win in the North East.
Other games saw Leek Town winning 2-0 at Whitchurch Alport, whilst Northwich Victoria draw 0-0 at Lancaster City. Just one replay this time, with Vics going out 2-1 to Lancaster.
The 2nd Qualifying Round came on 21st September, and it proved to be the end of the road for all three remaining sides, two of the losses coming against National League North opposition.
Irlam were selected to be the live screeed BBC game against leaders York City, and it was York who progressed after a hard fought 2-0 win. Runcorn Town came from behind to level matters with Farsley Celtic before two late goals saw the Leeds side through. And 1874 Northwich were beaten at home 1-0 by Whitby Town.