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FA Cup fourth qualifying round: Where will the shocks come?

Saturday 20th October 2018

The final instalment of FA Cup qualifiers takes place today. Which sides are most likely to produce shocks and earn a spot in the first round proper?

The FA Cup's fourth qualifying phase is one of the biggest days on the non-league calendar. It can make a huge difference to the competition's smallest clubs. One more victory opens up real opportunities. Television ties against former giants await the winners, offering potential riches which can secure a team's future.     

Eighth-tier sides still alive 

Two hopefuls from step eight remain fighting, but both have tough away ties. 

Kidsgrove Athletic travel to the North East to take on National Premier Hartlepool United. In the last round, the Grove knocked out Workington, placed one tier higher, after a replay and extra time. They currently sit mid-table in the Evo-Stik West division.

Winchester City face a trip to another ex-Football League side in Torquay United. The Citizens have already eliminated two teams from higher up the pyramid, Frome and Merthyr Town, but their next challenge offers a bigger scalp. The Gulls sit just outside the playoffs in the National South after relegation last season. 

A total of 13 sides from the seventh tier have made it to this stage. With Hitching Town facing Leatherhead and Haringey Borough hosting Poole Town, at least two will grace the first round.  

Northern League team causing a stir

Dunston UTS was the story of the third qualifying round. The Fed are the only ninth-tier team still in the competition. They have already won five matches to reach this stage, with their last a 4-3 victory over National North side Chester.   

Next up, UTS received the perfect draw; a home encounter against neighbours Gateshead. The Saturday lunch-time kickoff has been chosen as the BBC's match of the round and will be shown on the red button as well as online. It is set to be a fantastic occasion for Dunston regardless of the result. Although the Heed occupy seventh in non-league's top division, they dare not take their town rivals lightly.    

The media darlings

Salford City travels to nearby Marine. The National Premier leaders are expected to progress on Merseyside against a side currently struggling in the Evo-Stik Premier division. The Ammies have a history of producing FA Cup shocks themselves, having defeated Notts County live on TV since Manchester United's Class of 1992 took over. Should they avoid an upset, no team will want to face them in the first round.   

Of the 32 ties scheduled to take place this weekend, surprisingly five are all National Premier affairs. It includes fourth place Harrogate Town hosting second-placed Wrexham.

Other potential shocks

National North table toppers Chorley host National Premier mid-table Barrow. Following the Magpies' unbeaten start to the season, they have nothing to fear. 

Another underdog with potential is Warrington Town of the Evo-Stik Premier. The Cheshire-based side currently sit second with games in hand on the leaders. Having made a run to the first round in recent years, they will fancy bridging the two-division gap to National Premier Halifax Town.  

With the FA Cup's first round draw now in sight, this weekend is huge for all involved. Teams are intent on making the headlines. 

FA Cup Fixtures
Simon Hahn

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

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