Tuesday, 3 December 2013

1986-87 FA Cup: Second round

This piece follows on from my previous blog on the first round of the 1986/87 FA Cup, which you can view here.

"This is the stage of the competition you want to get through more than any other. We all know we're only 90 minutes away from utopia in the third round". So said Chorley manager Ken Wright prior to the 1986/87 FA Cup second round. For the players involved - including a fireman, storeman, British Rail engineer, and sales rep - they could almost smell Old Trafford, Anfield, or Highbury. Just like the semi-final, this would be an agonising round to lose in.

Unfortunately for Wright and Chorley, their dream would end at this stage, but not before they had taken Preston to a replay. Unable to play the first match at their own ground for safety reasons, Chorley were more than happy to switch the tie to Blackburn's Ewood Park, the prospect of taking on Preston on grass a lot more attractive than attempting to beat the Division Four outfit on their plastic pitch at Deepdale.

A brave 0-0 draw in front of 15,153 saw fireman and goalkeeper Ian Senior earn Chorley a replay, but a John Thomas hat trick in the replay helped Preston to a comfortable 5-0 win and halted the Chorley adventure. The club may have missed out on a potentially big third round payday, yet it was estimated that Chorley had made £50,000 in their cup run, which had lasted nine matches.

There was some success for non-league teams against their league counterparts. Caernarfon of the Northern Premier League caused the biggest upset of the round in defeating Third Division York City, their rise under manager John King continuing.

After the aggro of Stockport's visit in the previous round, the Welsh club ensured there was no repeat, investing in ground improvements which looked like stretching the club financially. Luckily, the Football Trust donated £2850 to the cause, easing Caernarfon's burden, and on their sloping pitch at The Oval, the Welsh side should have snatched a win in the last minute, striker Austin Salmon missing a glorious chance.

King's belief that his team were still in with a chance seemed like the usual bravado spouted by managers up and down the country to this day. But his team went to Bootham Crescent and fully deserved their 2-1 victory, Salmon atoning for his miss in the first match by opening the scoring and setting up his strike partner Steve Craven (surely nicknamed John?) for the second. "I was so proud of my lads," gushed King, with Salmon indicating that it was the greatest day of his life. After their exploits in recent years, York now had to experience the flip side of a giant-killing.

Maidstone United's win over Cambridge United was a sweet moment for both manager and goal scorer. Steve Galloway's winner for the Conference side seven minutes from time over the club which had rejected him after only a month's trial was particularly rewarding for the forward: "That was a sweet goal for me and a bit of revenge," with manager John Ryan, who had been sacked by Cambridge a year earlier naturally elated: "It was great to put it across them". Brian Mundee, on loan from Cambridge, also proved a point, helping to shut out the Fourth Division team, and on the final whistle there were scenes of jubilation, although this did lead to clashes between rival fans and trouble outside the ground too (a Cambridge supporters coach had three windows smashed).

These two ties apart, the non-league clubs did not really threaten any league opponents. Bath City did at least take their west country neighbours Bristol City to a replay, a healthy crowd of 10,053 witnessing Paul Bodin's late equaliser at Ashton Gate. City would win the replay 3-0 at the same ground to progress to the third round, joining Gillingham, who beat Chelmsford 2-0, and Scunthorpe, who narrowly edged out Runcorn. Swansea, boosted by the returning Colin Pascoe, defeated Slough Town 3-0 to move into the third round for the first time in 4 seasons, Tommy Hutchison scoring for the second round in a row.

Swindon overcame a potential banana skin, with a 3-0 win over Enfield, a team that had won the Conference (then known as the Gola League) the previous season, and had won eight out of their last ten away matches. However, the non-leaguers were now without the services of striker Carl Richards, who had been snapped up by Harry Redknapp at Bournemouth, and this, combined with the fact that Swindon would end the season promoted to Division Two, perhaps explained the ease of the victory.

Another team that would earn promotion to the second-tier would be on the end of a shock, however. Bournemouth had only just lost their 100% home record to Gillingham, were third in Division Three, and were facing a Division Four side in Orient whose only away win all season had been at Woodford in the previous round. Despite everything pointing to a comfortable home win, Lee Harvey scored a coupon-busting winner in the second half, allowing Harry Redknapp's side to concentrate on their league campaign, a season that would see them crowned as Division Three champions.

Middlesbrough would end the season just three points behind Bournemouth, but made it to the third round by winning away at Notts County, although the home fans were furious that Ian McParland's late strike was ruled out for offside. In other all-Third Division clashes, Fulham comfortably saw off Newport, Chester defeated Doncaster, whilst Walsall and Wigan thumped Port Vale and Darlington respectively, both winning 5-0. For Walsall it atoned for their 4-1 defeat to Vale earlier in the season, two penalties from Craig Shakespeare and another cup goal for Trevor Christie putting the 1984 League Cup semi-finalists into the next round, with a brace from future manager Paul Jewell helping to ease Wigan through.

The most dramatic match of the round took place at Roots Hall on the Friday before the main action. Southend and Northampton shared eight goals, Richard Cadette scoring a hat-trick for the hosts, as three times they came back to take Northampton to a second match. The replay was equally action packed, Cadette putting Southend 2-1 up, before two penalties in four minutes scored by David Gilbert gave Northampton a 3-2 win.

Both penalties were awarded by substitute referee Mike Penn - he replaced Ray Lewis at half-time, after the official had injured a calf - prompting a philosophical Southend manager Dave Webb to ponder if his team may have got away with things if Lewis had stayed fit.

When sport and comedy collide. Possibly a working title for a new Channel Five programme, yet for Rochdale supporters in the 1980s they had first-hand exposure to this experience. Tommy Cannon's period as chairman of the club involved sacking manager Vic Halom on the eve of their cup clash with Wrexham, though little good it did, Rochdale losing 4-1 at Spotland. Cannon's time at Rochdale was not a roaring success, the club heavily in debt when he departed in 1988 after an EGM. No laughing matter.

Having been through the process of six postponements and a replay in round one, Third Division Brentford immediately exited the competition, losing 2-0 to Fourth Division Cardiff. Bolton did not make the same mistake though, beating Tranmere 2-0 in an otherwise miserable season for the four-time winners. Aldershot, who would send Bolton down via the new end of season play-offs, defeated Colchester 3-2.

Last but not least, Telford joined Caernarfon and Maidstone as non-league representatives in the next round, due to their 1-0 victory in the battle of the giant-killers against Altrincham. Between them, the two clubs had knocked out 21 league clubs in the last thirteen years of the competition, and when the draw was made, Telford manager Stan Storton openly stated that he thought Altrincham would provide a sterner test than Burnley in the previous round.

Telford's keeper Kevin Charlton, a sales rep by day and a resident in Anglesey - meaning a 200-mile round trip for training and home matches - put in another impressive FA Cup performance, as Telford once more marched on to the third round. Not many would fancy drawing Telford's number in the third round.

The third round of the FA Cup was now a reality, and for the twenty lucky lower-league teams through to the next stage, their utopia had been reached. For some the journey would end there, though not without a fight, in a round containing local derbies, a ticket price hike and a fans boycott, shocks, and the exit of the FA Cup holders.

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