Ploughing through towards to the big boys

We are part of The Trust Project What is it?'s FA Cup correspondent Neil Redpath is attending a game in every round of the FA Cup. And it seems he's not alone...

There’s one more round of games to go before the teams in the Football League get a slice of the action.

There will be no holding back for the clubs that have progressed so far to the Fourth Qualifying Round this weekend with glamour teams such as Leeds, Norwich, Southampton and Charlton awaiting them just around the corner.

An unlucky loss for Coventry Sphinx means that there’s only one remaining team left from the Extra Preliminary Round stage, which kicked off back in August: Spartans South Midlands outfit Aylesbury.

They've already played eight games, despatching Langford, Leighton Town (after a replay), Erith Town (after a replay) and Wingate & Finchley (after a replay) before an exciting 4-3 win over high-flying Chesham United left them with just a Fourth Qualfiying Round tie against Wealdstone between them and a big-money draw in the First Round Proper.

(Note to long-standing readers: these FA Cup heroes are not to be confused with Aylesbury United, who came in at the Preliminary Round but lost in a First Round replay to Potters Bar - after a dire first game watched by yours truly.)

One team that stands out is Paulton Rovers. They are having an average season so far in the Zamaretto South & West Division 1 (Level 8), but they won 1-0 against Newport County, who sit top of the Blue Square South (Level 6 - just below what used to be the Conference).

At the Fourth Qualifying Round stage, the Prize money at this stage increases from £7,500 to £12,500.

It's a lot of money for the smaller teams but when you take into consideration pitch and stadium maintenance as well as floodlighting costs, player wages etc etc, the money won't go as far as you may think.

With an interesting range of fixtures present for the Fourth Qualifying Round, I decided to see an all-Conference clash: Luton Town vs Grays Athletic. Of which, more soon...

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