FA Vase takes centre stage on a busy weekend of non-league football

The last time a team from the South West tasted FA Vase glory was over 10 years ago when Dave Leonard led Truro City to cup success, as they defeated AFC Totten 3-1 at Wembley.

This weekend, the competition moves into the 3rd round, with a strong South West contingent left in the draw. South West Peninsula outfit AFC St Austell reached the semi final back in 2015, defeat against Glossop North End would be the clubs best run in the competition. This year they have the chance to go one better. Manager Damon Mulready has already secured a big scalp in this years cup run as they defeated newly promoted Plymouth Parkway of the Toolstation Western League, 6-1. The Lillywhites now face another Western League opponent as they travel to Bristol to play 15th place Cadbury Heath.

The South West Peninsula V Western League theme continues for the remaining local clubs. Matt Cusack has already guided Saltash United to their best ever run in the competition this season and will hope to keep it going this weekend. The Ashes were handed home advantage when the draw was made, meaning mid-table Cribbs of the Western League would would travel to Kimberley Stadium. Tony Beecham’s side are currently enjoying their best run of the season, culmanating in a fine 1-1 draw away to league leaders Bridgewater last Friday evening. Cusack’s Ashes have already seen off Western League high flyers Westbury United at Kimberley in the last round and will hope for the same outcome in what should prove a fascinating encounter across the Tamar.

The sleeping giants of the Peninsula league Bodmin Town who dominated the division between 2007-13, winning it four times, are slowly trying to regain the momentum that has deserted the club in the past few years. Darren Gilbert is slowly starting to piece together a team that can challenge on all fronts, one key piece arrived in the shape of prolific striker Glynn Hobbs who has been top of the Peninsula goalscoring charts on numerous occasions. The Priory Park outfit have blown hot and cold in the past few outings, as first they produced the result of the season when they dismantled title favourites Tavistock 7-2, only to be taken apart in the league cup when they visited Poltair Park as St Austell put them to the sword five times. The club face a huge test as they look to progress to the next round of the Vase when they make the trip to Western League title chasers Willand Rovers. Willand have enjoyed a fine start to the season and sit in third place, three points off league leaders Bridgewater Town but with two games in hand. Darren Gilbert men will have to pull off the shock of the round to progress but the beauty of the cup always throws up shock results. With Glynn Hobbs back in goalscoring form, the black & ambers could be the side producing that shock.

With cup fever grabbing the non-league headlines ahead of this weekends fixtures, some important games are being played out across the leagues. It’s the battle of the Towns in the South West Peninsula Premier League, as fouth placed Exmouth entertain fifth placed Falmouth. The king George V ground will play out the game of the day in the league, as Exmouth will look to build on there excellent 4-3 victory away at Camelford last time out.

Elsewhere in the division, Tavistock will look to build on last weekends victory over Godolphin Athletic, their first win in four games as they look to rediscover the form which made them title favourites at the start of the season. The Lambs entertain Steve Massey’s Helston Athletic who will look to take advantage of Stuart Henderson’s side stuttering form of late.

Camelford will hope to return to winning ways at home after Reg Hambley’s side narrowly lost 4-3 to Exmouth followed by a 4-2 defeat to Elburton Villa on home soil in their previous fixture. Dean Cardew takes his Torpoint Athletic side to Trefrew Park hoping to inflict a third successive home defeat to Town, as his side hope to get back to winning ways after last weekends 2-1 defeat at Helston. The basement team of the league, Sticker will have a chance to add to their points tally of four, as player-manager Andy Avery side entertain relegation rivals Ivybridge Town. Towns manager Darren Stewart side have only picked up three points in their last five league games, three of those games being against the top three clubs, Plymouth Argyle Reserves, Saltash United and Tavistock. They did pick up three points against St Austell in that time proving Stewart’s side can compete with the big boys of the division. The Erme Valley outfit will go into the bottom of the table clash as favourites as they look to come away from Burngullow Park with all three points.

Plymouth Parkways first season in the Western League is back on track after a turbulent October. The Yellows return to Bolitho Park after last weekends excellent 3-2 victory away at Brislington which made it five wins on the bounce. Ray Johnston brings his Bristol based Hallen side to Plymouth hoping to stop Parkways perfect November. Hallen have only lost one of their last four league games and will hope to continue their recent good form against Lee Hobbs’ promotion chasing side.

The Western League will also offer good value for local football fans in the South West with some interesting fixtures this weekend. A mid-table clash throws up 11th placed Bridport tackle 10th placed Buckland Athletic at St Marys Field. Second from bottom Hengrove Athletic have a daunting task as they travel to the Hand Stadium to face 6th placed Clevedon who themselves will be looking to get back to winning ways after a home defeat to Wellington last time out. Top of the table Bridgewater Town travel to Oaklands Park as they face 17th place Roman Glass St George who are currently on a five game losing streak. Will it also be Shortwood United’s time to break their losing streak and taste all three points for the first time this season? If they do, it will prove the result of the division as they make the trip to the Recreation Ground to face Dan Langdon’s fourth placed Bitton. Like Parkway, Bitton are enjoying a superb November winning four out of four and scoring 17 goals in the process. If Jason Scrivens could pick a place not to take his Shortwood side he might have chosen the Recreation Ground.

It’s a weekend filled with possible upsets amongst FA Vase fixtures and league fixtures. You can join in the fun of the weekend non-league football build up as myself and Jack Horswell will host our weekly #LocalFootballRadio show. This week we have on FA Vase winner Stewart Yetton on the show to talk about Truro’s success in 2007. Saltash United’s assistant manager Dane Bunney joins us in the studio and their FA Vase opponents Cribbs manager, Tony Beecham will also be joining in. A fun show ahead and a great weekend of non-league football to look forward to, as clubs will look to keep their FA Vase dream alive and take a step further to playing at the home of football… Wembley Stadium.

The Local Football Radio show is today between 1pm – 2pm. Hit the link to listen in