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FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round

Saturday 16th September 2017

The Premier League's global superstars don't enter the world's oldest football competition until January but the FA Cup is already well underway. It began in August. Preliminary rounds between the lowest eligible clubs in the football pyramid took place.

Since then, the 1st Qualifying Round has also been played. Sides in the National League's North and South divisions enter the competition in the 2nd Qualifying Round.

Non-league clubs must qualify to reach the 1st Round Proper, where winners' purses begin to gain significance. Some sides could have already won five ties by the time they reach that level. After this weekend, the winners must progress an additional two rounds to be in the draw.

For the first time, BBC is streaming one live match from each qualifying round through their digital service. This provides unfamiliar fans a fantastic look into the non-league game. In total, 80 ties are taking place across the weekend. Here are three notables:

Salford City v York City

Salford City

have gone from strength to strength on and off the pitch in recent years. Owned by Manchester United Class of 92 alumni Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Phil and Gary Neville, in partnership with Singaporean investor Peter Lim, the Ammies have enjoyed a brilliant start to their second National North season. The Manchester club trail leaders Harrogate Town only on goal difference.

A few years ago, this would have been Salford's chance at a giant killing. Times have changed. They go into this match very much the favourites.

York City are in the National North having been relegated in back-to-back seasons. Currently sitting seventh, they hold the division's final playoff place. At times this season, they have looked impressive, worrying stronger sides. On other occasions, particularly at home, they have dropped points against weaker teams, such as they did on Tuesday night, drawing 0-0 at home to Gainsborough Trinity.

Both clubs will fancy a cup run, especially Salford. The Ammies have already tasted success in the competition, beating League Two Notts County two seasons ago.

Darlington v South Shields

The North East duo battle on Saturday in a game that could well see an upset.

Darlington sit mid table in the National North despite a strong start to the campaign. After finishing in a playoff place last season, they began well in 2017-18 before tumbling into a seven-game winless run. The Quakers did pick up a confidence boosting 3-0 win over FC United of Manchester on Wednesday night, however.

South Shields are two levels below, in the Evo-Stick Division One North. Yet, they are among the country's in-form teams at the moment. The Mariners have been promoted in back-to-back seasons and are now soaring atop their new division.

Last Saturday, they lost at Colwyn Bay, ending a quite remarkable 45-match undefeated streak. Graham Fenton's group completed an unprecedented quadruple last season, including the Northern League title and the FA Vase. Captained by former Middlesbrough and Sunderland man, Julio Arca, who has played a huge role in their recent success, the Mariners have the experience to surprise their opponents.

Shields are expected to take 800 fans to their nearby rivals. The Quakers have also averaged over 1,500 this season. Blackwell Meadows ought to be raucous.

Deeping Rangers v Kidderminster Harriers

This is the Beeb's chosen match for live streaming on Saturday. Former Football League side Kidderminster travel to one of the lowest sides remaining in the competition, Deeping Rangers.

As with Darlington, this match is a potential banana skin for Kiddy. John Eustace's squad began as strong promotion challengers but have struggled early this season. Last year. they made the National North playoffs after finishing second behind champions AFC Fylde. This season has been a mixed bag. A few good results scattered among poorer ones leaves the Carpetmen 15th in the table.

A run in this competition, with its financial rewards, can change everything for a club mired in a make or break season. Despite the weakened teams put out by many Premier League clubs, laden with foreign players and coaches, the FA Cup is still a fantastic competition. In the past, it featured the best English football had to offer. Now it reminds fans English football still exists, showcasing smaller clubs and young talent.

If you aren't at a game already and are free at the weekend, I highly recommend going down to support your local team in the FA Cup.

Simon Hahn

Lifelong sufferer following Darlington FC from League Two to the Northern League. Freelance Sports and data journalist. Living for 3pm on Saturday.

Total articles: 163

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