Match Preview – AFC Hornchurch vs Wealdstone (FA Cup 3QR) – Sat 12th Oct

 

Wealdstone travel to Essex on Saturday where they will be tested to the full by Ryman Premier rivals AFC Hornchurch in the Third Qualifying Round of the FA Cup.

The Stones have beaten Kings Langley and Haringey Borough to get to this stage and will be looking to reach the final qualifying round for the first time since 2009.

That season, Gordon Bartlett’s men memorably progressed to the first round of the competition’s full format, where they were narrowly beaten by Rotherham United.

Away victories against East Thurrock and Spalding United have seen Hornchurch find themselves at this stage of the FA Cup for the first time in five years. Back in 2008, the Essex outfit reached the first round, but were beaten 1-0 at home to Peterborough United.

Wealdstone currently sit three places below Saturday’s opponents in the Ryman Premier League, with both teams losing just one match all season. Seven points separate the two sides, who played out a 1-1 draw at Bridge Avenue in September, where Ade Yusuff’s last-minute deflected effort cancelled out Chris Moore’s early opener.

While both sides are in solid form, they have also suffered a slight blip in the last week. Wealdstone lost their first competitive match of the season last weekend at home to Margate, but recovered two days later to see off Hendon in the League Cup, courtesy of James Hammond’s first goal for his club.

The Urchins are unbeaten in the league since the opening day of the season, but were hammered 7-2 by Billericay in the League Cup on Tuesday. Sam Lechmere and Alex Bentley scored Hornchurch’s goals, but the game was never truly a contest.

Jimmy McFarlane made two additions to his squad last week, with the signings of defender Sibu Muwanga and midfield Gonzalo Onega, formerly of Braintree and Chelmsford City respectively. Both played in the midweek thrashing along with two other debutants, so the manager may well be tempted to go back to the tried and tested for this important Cup clash.

Wealdstone will be without Elliott Godfrey for the match as the midfielder looks set for a few weeks on the sidelines, while skipper Wes Parker is also on the injured list, but Gordon Bartlett has options available to him.

With the teams now just two wins away from qualifying for the FA Cup first round, one thing for certain is that they will be giving absolutely everything to be the ones celebrating. Take any potential prize money out of the equation, reaching that stage of the world’s most-loved domestic cup competition is enormous for any non-league club.

Both sides are playing well and will be at the top end of the division whatever happens come the end of the season, and though it may be a tight and cagey affair, it could well be a real corker.

 

By Matt Desai