Felixstowe & Walton hoping for more FA Cup success, against Bishop’s Stortford


- Credit: Archant

Felixstowe & Walton United face a side 55 places above them in the non-league pyramid when they host National League (South) Bishop’s Stortford in the second qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup at the Goldstar Ground today.

It is the second time the club have reached this stage, where a win would take them into unknown territory with the big boys of non-league.

They reached the same stage in 2010, holding Southern League North side Greenford to a draw away before losing the replay 3-0 at home.

At the time Greenford were the highest-placed opposition the Seasiders had played in competitive football but this match sees them go head-to-head with a side three leagues higher, who have an excellent pedigree in the competition.

The Bishops have taken on Football League opponents on half a dozen occasions, reaching the third round proper in 1983 when they travelled to Ayresome Park, the then home of Middlesbrough, and holding the Division Two side (Championship) to a 2-2 draw before losing the replay 2-1.

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While there is the cup fever feeling within the club, the Seasiders are hoping for a big turn out from the town to support the side and act as the 12th man for what will no doubt be a very tough afternoon for them.

Having already picked up almost £6,500 in prize money from the earlier rounds and £4,500 on offer to the winners of this game, it would be a windfall for the club in a season that sees their resources fully stretched with the cost of building the new pitchside clubhouse and changing rooms.

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While the Seasiders have had a free week, the visitors dropped into the National League South relegation zone on Tuesday when they lost to Ebbsfleet, who host AFC Sudbury tomorrow, but manager Kevin O’Donnell dismisses their current league standing and form. He says they are still a very good side, and he knows his team will have to be at their very, very best if they are to compete with them.

The Seasiders are expected to lose and, as such, have no pressure on them, while Bishop’s Stortford will not want to exit the competition at what is the first stage for them against a side three levels below them.

The club have kept their standard gate prices of £6 adults and £3 concessions, feeling home supporters should be encouraged rather than penalised – it’s a price that will suit the visiting supporters who normally pay £13 entry for their home games.

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