While the Premier League is back this weekend, with the tasty Liverpool v Manchester United game to kick things off, the lower leagues are preparing for the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Cup after the previous two preliminary rounds, and the Manchester United breakaway supporters team are just one of those in action.
FC United of Manchester travel to Nantwich Town, who beat the Rebels 5-1 in the Unibond President’s Cup last season, only to be thrown out for fielding an ineligible player. Nantwich will be hoping the scoreline and not off-the-pitch matters repeat themselves this weekend.
Probably the pick of the ties this round is Cambridge City v Lowestoft Town. The Suffolk side reached the FA Vase final last season, losing 2-1 to Kirkham & Wesham, and currently sit in second place in the Ridgeons League Premier.
Cambridge, meanwhile, were kicked out of the Blue Square South last season over ground issues and have had a less than auspicious start to their British Gas Business Premier campaign, with two wins, two draws and three losses and Lowestoft may well fancy their chances of an upset. The game is one of 12 games to be filmed for ITV.com and ITVlocal.com this weekend.
Elsewhere, Yate travel to high-spending Truro City, who’re due a good FA Cup run with the quality of players they have at their disposal — including the free-scoring Stuart Yetton and last season’s captain of Exeter City, Andy Taylor. The Cornish club will fancy their chances of progressing and could well claim a few scalps along the way.
Three clubs who were forced to reform lower down the pyramid due to financial troubles — FC Halifax, Boston United and Nuneaton Town — are both still in the competition and will be hoping to bring a bit of cheer back to their respective hometowns with a good cup run.
Halifax travel to Tyneside team Ryton FC, while Nuneaton host Midlands Alliance side Tipton Town and Boston are at home to Glapwell. All will be expected to progress to the 2nd qualifying round and go into their respective games as favourites.
Current crisis club Merthyr Tydfil will consider staving off liquidation to be more of a result than their final league position this season and a good cup run will help the finances no end. The Welsh club face a tricky trip to Poole Town.
Also, keep an eye on Dover Athletic. The Kent side are making serious moves to climb back up the non-league ladder and have made a number of eye-catching signings in recent weeks. Former Barnet goalscoring legend Guiliano Grazoli was recently snapped up on a free, while Gillingham midfielder Nicky Southall has joined on a month’s loan. With highly-rated manager Andy Hessenthaler at the helm, they’ll provide a stiff test for home team Tonbridge Angels.
Sutton United V Cray Wanderers
Stewarts & Lloyds (Corby) V Croydon Athletic
Cambridge City v Lowestoft
Aston United v Kendal Town
Buxton v Bootle
Truro City v Yate
Hednesford v Atherstone
Thamesmead v Great Wakering Rvrs
Ashington v Durham
Garforth Town v Ossett Town
Fleet Town v Cowes
Poole Town v Merthyr Tydfil
For a full list of FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round Fixtures go to www.thefa.com/facup.