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FA Trophy: The semi-final draw analysis

Friday 3rd March 2017
The draw took place this week for the semi-finals of the FA Trophy with five sides remaining in the competition. Are Lincoln City on the brink of two trips to Wembley?

The semi-final draw

York City v Lincoln City

Dulwich Hamlet or Macclesfield Town v Tranmere Rovers
Lincoln City's spectacular season looks set to continue, as they are now one round away from Wembley in both cup competitions they entered this season.

While they have made all the headlines with an incredible FA Cup run which sees them play Arsenal in two weeks time, they have also progressed in the Premier Non-League cup competition.

The Trophy is for teams in steps 1-4 of the non-league pyramid and offers a great chance to play at Wembley for those who otherwise would never get the opportunity.

At the weekend Lincoln won 2-0 away to Boreham Wood, just a week after winning at Premier League Burnley. The result keeps Lincoln as firm favourites to complete a National League and FA Trophy double.

If a few shocks happen they could end up playing at the home of football three times in the coming months, the National League play-off final is also at Wembley. Lincoln fans will hope this isn't the case though, as they currently lead the division, which would see them seal automatic promotion back to the Football League.

In their way in the semi-final is York City, a side in trouble in the league. They overcame National North side Brackley in their quarter-final at the weekend, but other results in the league saw them fall to the bottom of the National League.

However, this week York travelled to Lincoln in the National League and held on for a 1-1 draw.

York's priority will obviously be survival in the league, but being just two games away from Wembley will be a distraction. Last year's winners were Halifax Town, who had the joy of winning the competition in the same week they were relegated to the National North, could York suffer the same fate?

Lincoln's momentum should see them through in what could be a historic week for the club. The first leg of this semi-final has been pushed back three days, why? Their FA Cup tie with Arsenal.

In the other half of the draw is Tranmere Rovers, who comfortably beat Barrow 5-1 in the quarter-finals and like Lincoln are challenging for promotion. Just under 3,500 fans were at Prenton Park on Merseyside at the weekend to see them progress and they remain a huge club at this level of football.  They are currently only four points behind Lincoln in the league table.

The final semi-final spot is yet to be decided. Dulwich Hamlet and Macclesfield Town drew 2-2 on Saturday, they were meant to replay on Tuesday night, but the game was postponed.

For Dulwich Hamlet, the game was billed as the club's biggest for several decades, with nearly 3,000 supporters attending and they were not disappointed. Despite Macclesfield going 2-0 ahead, Dulwich fought back and equalised in the final minutes to force a replay. They currently play in the Isthmian League Premier Division two tiers below Macclesfield, but they have already knocked out two National League sides in the competition.

Macclesfield Town was the first team to win the FA Trophy back in 1970 and won the competition again in 1996. Like Tranmere, they still remain in play-off contention, six points off the final play-off place with two games in hand.

While for many of the National League sides, the competition takes a backseat, much like the EPL Cup does for Premier League teams, at this stage the bright lights of Wembley are a huge appeal. Lincoln are the favourites to complete a near perfect season, but you never know; Dulwich Hamlet fans will still be dreaming of the most unlikely of successes.
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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