FA competition draws announced
Friday 06 July 2018 - by Stuart Smedley (Updated on 06 July 2018 at 13:50)
Fresh opposition awaits Royal Wootton Bassett Town in both the FA Cup and FA Vase as the draws were announced for the early rounds of both competitions.
In the FA Cup, Bassett will make the journey to Bedfordshire to face Leighton Town in the competition's extra preliminary round.
It marks the second year in a row that Bassett will take on Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division opponents in the competition, but they will be hoping for a better outcome than in last year's tie at the same stage against Crawley Green.
However, Leighton, who finished fourth in the league last season, while also reaching the quarter finals of the FA Vase, will be extremely difficult to overcome. They were eliminated by Bassett's league rivals Tuffley Rovers in the FA Cup preliminary round but saw off Hellenic League opposition in the form of Brimscombe and Thrupp early in their Vase run.
They have significant pedigree in national competitions. On top of their Vase quarter final appearance, they reached the last sixteen of that competition in 2003-04. Meanwhile, their best run in the FA Cup came in 2007-08 when they progressed to the fourth qualifying round where they lost to Havant and Waterlooville after overcoming non-league giants Boreham Wood in the previous round.
Back then they Leighton were a Southern League club, but they were relegated back to step five following the 2015-16 campaign.
The tie will take place at Leighton's Bell Close ground on Saturday 11th August.
Should Bassett triumph – something they have not achieved in the past three seasons - they would host either AFC Hayes or Lydney Town in the preliminary round on Saturday 25th August.
Hayes are another former Southern League club, though have played the last three seasons in the Combined Counties League Premier Division, where they finished 18th in 2017-18.
Their best FA Cup run came in 2005-06, reaching the second qualifying round when playing under previous name Brook House. Last year their fell at the first hurdle, losing to Holmer Green in the extra preliminary round.
Lydney, meanwhile, are well known to Bassett, having been long-term Hellenic League opponents. In league affairs, the Magpies hold the upper hand over Bassett, having won nine of their sixteen meetings, suffering just four defeats.
Their exposure to the FA Cup has been limited though. First entering in 2009-10, they have recorded just one victory in five appearances. That came in 2010-11 when the Forest of Dean outfit beat Fairford Town in the extra preliminary round before succumbing to Thame United. Last season they fell to Wantage Town.
FA Cup Extra Preliminary round: Leighton Town v Royal Wootton Bassett Town (Saturday 11th August 2018)
FA Cup Preliminary round: Leighton Town or Royal Wootton Bassett Town v AFC Hayes or Lydney Town (Saturday 25th August 2018)
Wessex League opponents – Bassett's old nemesis – await in the FA Vase.
Last season, Bassett matched their best ever run in the competition before being knocked out in the second round by Wessex Premier Division Horndean in a dramatic contest.
And their league rivals Bashley or AFC Portchester will visit the Gerard Buxton Sports Ground in the competition's second qualifying round on Saturday 15th September.
Bassett were originally drawn to play Oxford City Nomads in the previous round, but their league rivals have withdrawn from the Vase.
Bashley finished fourteenth in the league last season, their second campaign following relegation from the Southern League at the end of 2015-16. In the Vase they lost after extra time in the first round against Bridgwater Town. Two seasons ago they suffered a heavy 4-0 loss against Highworth Town.
They have been far in the competition before though. In 1987-88 they reached the semi-finals before managing the last eight a season later. Then in 1989-90 Bashley were eliminated in the last sixteen.
Their long absence from the Vase came courtesy of promotion, with the nineties being the club's glory years. In 1994-95 they reached the second round of the FA Cup, where they lost by just a single goal at home against Swansea City, while they also spent four seasons in the Southern League Premier Division. They returned to the Southern Premier in 2007-08, where they remained for seven seasons.
Portchester, meanwhile, secured a fifth consecutive top half finish in the Wessex Premier in 2017-18 as they wound up sixth. In the Vase, the Royals reached the first round, losing by the odd goal in five against Cullompton Rangers.
They enjoyed a successful run in the FA Cup though, seeing off Southern League side Dorchester Town in the first qualifying round before being 2-0 away against National League South Truro City, who would go onto make the first round. In four of the past five seasons they have made it through to that stage of the FA Cup.
Promoted to the Wessex Premier Division after finishing Division One runners-up in 2011-12, Portchester have competed in the Vase on eight occasions. They have twice reached the third round (2013-14 and 2014-15). Two seasons ago they succumbed to Bassett's Hellenic League rivals Lydney Town in the second qualifying round.
FA Vase Second Qualifying round: Royal Wootton Bassett Town v Bashley or AFC Portchester (Saturday 15th September 2018)