There's good cash from this year’s prize pot on offer, as those who safely negotiate this second round qualifying stage stand to scoop £725 en route to a place in the first round proper when the rewards grow even greater.
The draw has delivered two mouthwatering Gloucestershire derby fixtures for Saturday, September 14 where our Hellenic League hopefuls are concerned, with Fairford Town entertaining Shortwood United and Longlevens hosting Newent Town in two ties (both 3pm) featuring Premier Division and Division One West teams.
Jody Bevan’s Fairford convincingly overcame Hellenic One East strugglers Abingdon Town 5-1 at Cinder Lane at the first hurdle thanks to Connor Thompson’s first-half strike and second-half efforts from Callum Preece (penalty), Jon Thomas and Thompson again, who notched twice more to complete his treble.
Fairford have enjoyed a useful start to their campaign with four wins and two losses from six league appearances to date, although their early 3-2 FA Cup exit at home by Hanwell Town came as a disappointment.
Of his team’s comfortable Vase ride first off at the expense of Abingdon, and this Saturday’s next date with Shortwood, the demanding Cinder Lane supremo nonetheless warned: “We should have won by a considerably bigger margin and we will be punished if we continue to be as wasteful in front of goal.
“Shortwood will be a good test for us: they have obviously improved rapidly since the end of last season and we'll be taking nothing for granted.”
Indeed the Meadowbank Stadium side enter the all-Glos game in fine fettle on the strength of an unbeaten three-match start to life at Step 6 level following their relegation from the Toolstation League top-flight last term.
Tuffley Rovers certainly felt the full force of Shortwood’s revival at the last stage of the Vase as the Hellenic Prem visitors were thumped 5-0 courtesy of Lee Bowles’ brace and Tom Hoskins, Joe Wilton and substitute Max Harper-Emerson efforts.
It got better for the Nailsworth club at the weekend as they beat a fancied Malvern Town team 3-1 at home in the league to hit fifth spot, prompting assistant manager Mat Blythe to enthuse: “We turned in a good solid shift and it was a really good match played in the right spirit by both teams.
“Our team spirit and togetherness are on point at the moment.”
Longlevens, who have experienced a mixed start to their Hellenic Prem programme, enter the Vase arena for the first time this term and are out to rid themselves of the disappointment of their 2-0 weekend home defeat by Portland United in the FA Cup when they host Newent in the Vase on Saturday, September 14.
The Sawmills End side at least come into the contest buoyed by their 2-1 midweek home win over Moreton Rangers in a Banbury Litho Floodlit Cup opener.
And their youthful team took heart from their FA Cup exertions too, despite bowing to defeat at the hands of Wessex Premier Division opponents Portland in Longlevens’ first-ever appearance at the competition stage, watched by a bumper 242 turn-out.
Teenage defender and skipper Ollie Long remarked: “Having the chance to play in the first qualifying round was special for all of the lads.
“Yes, we were all disappointed with the result and still feeling it now, especially when we know we were more than capable of winning it.”
Craig Martin’s Longlevens will certainly fancy their chances of progression to the main draw this weekend with visiting Newent still seeking a first point after four Hellenic One West outings.
They did, however, get past league and local rivals Tytherington Rocks 2-0 a fortnight back at the first phase of the Vase with Jordan Cooper and Luke Hawkins goals to advance to this weekend’s Longlevens trip, prompting boss Ben Stringer to reason: “We are certainly underdogs but we are really looking forward to facing Longlevens who have had a good start to their season and have a lot of experience in their favour.”
The second round qualifying juncture has thrown up another intriguing all-Hellenic League tie as Thornbury Town, of Division One West, hit the road for a Sunday, September 15 confrontation (2pm) with Berkshire-based Wokingham and Emmbrook, who perform in the equivalent-level Division One East.
Jason Rees’ Thorns come into the fixture on the back of a 6-1 crushing by Hellenic Prem hosts Tuffley Rovers in Tuesday night’s Floodlit Cup tie.
The Mundy Fields manager admitted: “We took an opportunity to give more fringe players a run-out and perhaps we put too many of them in in one go and got found out against a decent side we didn’t respect enough.
“We can’t underestimate Wokingham either as they beat Chipping Sodbury 2-1 in the last round.
“But we ourselves enjoyed a good (6-2) win over Cheltenham Saracens to get to this stage and I’m looking at going with the same team on Sunday as I did for that one.”
Andy Black’s Heathens pushed past near neighbours Longwell Green Sports in front of a 100-plus crowd at Springfield in the last round a fortnight back with goals by Matt Huxley, fit-again Simon McElroy and Marcus Kelly in a 3-0 win to reach this point of the famous national competition.
Toolstation Prem compatriots Roman Glass, meanwhile, brushed aside a slow start to their league campaign by overcoming league rivals Clevedon Town on their travels with a morale-boosting 2-1 victory courtesy of Ryan Radford and George Box strikes at Hand Stadium.
Cadbury Heath’s own opening success set them up for this Saturday’s home duel with Exmouth Town, who gained a place in the Toolstation top-flight thanks to their rise as runners-up to Tavistock in last season’s South West Peninsula League Premier shake-up.
Hardly surprisingly Springfield supremo Black is taking nothing for granted this weekend, aware of Exmouth’s own fine form so far which has delivered FA Cup victories over Southern League sides Barnstaple Town and Yate Town, as well as a notable 3-2 Vase win over a travelling Brislington team who have otherwise enjoyed a splendid start to their Toolstation Prem programme.
The Devon team are also buoyed by a positive opening to their own league campaign, which contains two wins from three games thus far including an eye-catching 1-0 away success over ambitious Bitton.
Black observed: “Exmouth are a good side and it will be a tough test. Longwell might have felt they had a decent chance of turning us over in our first Vase game given our form at the time, but we ran out thoroughly deserved winners.
“That gave us the confidence to go on and win 1-0 at Odd Down in the league on Saturday when we defended stoutly and looked sharp on the counter.”
Roman Glass, meantime, approach their away-day with SW Peninsula Prem East outfit Ivybridge Town in Devon in far better mood after not only dispensing of Clevedon in that last Vase appearance but going on to pin their first points to the Toolstation Prem board with an 8-0 crushing of Wellington at Oaklands Park on Saturday.
Like Exmouth, Ivybridge are a force to be wary of after winning four and drawing two of their eight Peninsula League outings to date.
But Roman Glass assistant manager Liam Greening, who has seen new signings Kye Simpson, Josh Morgan-Williams and Harry Haughon hit the ground running in recent days, said of his own side’s form: “We’re pleased and encouraged with how it’s going and having Grantley Dicks in now from Hengrove as first team coach, and a new physio/coach in Tom Goard, has benefited us too.”
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