Preview: All hail the four-out-of-fourers

We are part of The Trust Project What is it?'s Neil Redpath is watching a game in every round of the FA Cup. And after this weekend, there's just one round left before the big boys...

It's the weekend of the Third Qualifying Round - just two from the stage where the Football League teams enter.

But before I tell you where I'll be watching it, I'd like to dedicate this week's blog to the heroics of Coventry Sphinx and Aylesbury FC – the two remaining clubs left in the cup who entered in the Extra Preliminary round stage back in August.

Each team has already chalked up four wins to earn a Third Qualifying Round match – against Bedworth United and Chesham respectively.

Aylesbury FC, who were once called Stock Lake FC, then were called Belgrave FC, and then were called Haywood United, and then were called Aylesbury Vale FC before they settled with Aylesbury FC as long ago as 2009.

Charmingly, they're nicknamed the Moles due to the little creatures inhabiting their Haywood Way pitch.

Their participation in the FA Cup only goes back five years, and they've reached the Second Qualifying Round once.

So hats off, or rather pith helmets on, as they enter uncharted territory. They've conquered Langford, Leighton Town, Erith Town and Wingate & Finchley to reach this stage.

Currently handily placed in fourth in the Molten Spartan South Midlands Football League Premier Division, they have a difficult local tie against Chesham United of the (Level 8) Zamaretto Southern League Division 1 Midlands.

Meanwhile, Coventry Sphinx, originally the Armstrong Siddeley Motors works team, renamed themselves Sphinx FC before settling on Coventry Sphinx in 1995.

What's all this Sphinx business?

Well, one of the mythical creatures is present on the badge of Armstrong Siddeley, the local engineering firm whose workers started the team.

Their FA Cup history? They haven't really got one. This is their third attempt, with both previous 'runs' ending in the Extra Preliminary Round.

In 2008, they lost to Barwell; in 2007, they lost to Teversal (which sounds like Carlito going back on a deal).

It's a different story this time, with wins against Bromyard Town, Stourport Swifts and Rushall Olympic setting them up for an impressive replay victory against Stafford Rangers of the Blue Square North. That's Level 6, just two below Football League standard.

Bumbling along in 15th place in the Aspire Midland Football Alliance, they now face a difficult tie against Bedworth United – who, like Aylesbury's opponents Chesham United, play at (Level 8) in the Zamaretto Southern League Division 1 Midlands.

But who am I facing in my own personal Wembley-chasing quest? Well, with games coming thick and fast, I decide to take a look at a fairly local team: Lowestoft Town.

The team from Crown Meadow are steaming along in the (Level 8) Ryman’s League Division 1 North, which they lead by three points after eight games.

They're no strangers to Wembley either, having graced the hallowed turf only last year in an FA Vase final that they eventually lost to Kirkham and Wesham.

They've made it to the First Round Proper on five occasions, and will fancy their chances of making it there again.

Opponents Sutton Coldfield Town are a lowly 16th in the (Level 8) Zamaretto Football League Division 1 Midlands.

Having entered the competition in the Preliminary Round, they've won three times, the highlight being a 6-0 away hammering of Westfields in the First Qualifying Round.

The talk around East Anglia is already of a Norwich City vs Lowestoft tie in the First Round Proper tie. This will act as all the incentive they will need to turn over Sutton Coldfield on Saturday.

Then there's just one more qualifier before the Football League boys join in.

-------------------------------------------- More to read...

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