BAA face Paget in FA Cup quarter-finals
At least one First Division team will reach the semi-finals of this season’s FA Cup, after promotion-chasing teams BAA and Paget Lions were drawn against each other yesterday.
Four First Division teams are in the last eight for the first time after beating Premier Division opposition at the weekend. BAA and Paget, the top two teams in the First Division, will clash in a night game on Saturday, February 17 at Goose Gosling Field, while the other two First Division sides, Southampton Rangers and St George’s, face tougher home matches against North Village and Robin Hood on the Sunday.
In the only all-Premier Division tie, Dandy Town will play host to holders PHC Zebras at St John’s Field.
“I didn’t have a preference; whoever they put in front of us we’ll do the best we can and try to get the best outcome,” said Michael Trott, the PHC president. “We can’t take anyone lightly; yes the season has been going fairly well for us, however on the day you still have to show up and play. We’ll stick to the process, prepare accordingly and go from there.”
PHC edged Dandy Town 1-0 when the teams met in the league back in October and indications it could be close again with Town starting to hit form.
“Dandy Town have pedigree, have won cups recently and they are somebody you don’t take for granted,” Trott said.
Another First Division team will be hoping to pull off an upset, though Robin Hood, winners of the cup in 2016, and North Village, last season’s beaten finalists and nine-time winners of the FA Cup, will be strong favourites when they travel to Wellington and Southampton Ovals respectively.
“Our Premier Division teams are afforded the opportunity to play in the Dudley Eve Trophy in preseason which gives them an advantage over First Division teams, whereby in October or November when the [FA Cup] preliminary round matches are played, they are probably a bit more seasoned,” explained Shannon Burgess, chairman of the Competitions Committee.
“What we saw on Sunday is that the First Division teams are now in midseason and have had time to gel. When they’ve had the opportunity to play against Premier Division teams, they’ve actually held their own. I believe this is perhaps the first time we’ve gotten to the quarter-final stage of the FA Cup and we have four lower division teams in the group of eight.
“It’s a very intriguing draw indeed and to help you with the suspense we’ve had a lot of e-mail, phone calls and WhatsApp messages asking when the draw is taking place. I had a piece of correspondence back in September which was centred around the preliminary rounds whereby why no Premier Division teams are entered.
“Only Corona and First Division are pitted against each other in the preliminary round and the question was whether in a country of this size this was the correct format. Perhaps we will give the lower teams a better advantage if they [Premier sides] are put in from the get-go, but I don’t believe that to be the case.”
St George’s were shock winners over Somerset Trojans on Saturday night in their first Cup win over the West Enders in Somerset since 1986-87, when they beat them in the semi-final of the Friendship Trophy. They also claimed a Premier Division scalp last season when they knocked out Boulevard in the first round.
Boulevard fell to a First Division side again this year, going down to BAA in one of the upsets, while Rangers beat Devonshire Cougars, winners of the cup three times in four seasons between 2009-10 and 2012-13, on kicks from the penalty spot.
There was some confusion when the match went into penalty kicks instead of a replay after still being deadlocked after extra time. Burgess admitted that with limited night fields available, only two at present, it does create a challenge.
“My committee is charged with revising ad revamping when necessary and last summer we looked at the FA Cup competition and looked at the benefit, or not, for having replays in the FA Cup,” Burgess said. “Over the 90 minutes, a team playing away from home is able to force a replay, with the benefit of playing that replay at home.
“Unfortunately, the way our league is scheduled there are no available Sundays to host replays. And unless you have a night field, you don’t have the benefit of playing that replay at home.
“So, we won’t be putting an extra game on the schedule when we have limited night venues, limited officials and for little benefit. During the summer, we restructured the competition and all rounds will go into extra time and penalties.
“There will be no replays. That was pitched to the clubs at the AGM in September.”
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