NonLeagueReview, Reviews…..The FA Trophy

This weekend sees Gosport Borough v Cambridge United in the final of the FA Trophy at Wembley stadium. We’re going to take a look back at this years competition and how both teams reached the final.

The competition started back in October last year with Horsham v Chipstead getting us underway in a Friday night preliminary round game, with Horsham running out 4-1 winners. Cambridge didn’t enter until the First round proper on November the 30th whereas Gosport entered a round earlier on November 16th in the Third Qualifying round.

Third Qualifying Round
Gosport get underway with a 3-0 win at home to Dorchester Town, with a 1-0 lead going into the final few minutes, two late goals secure a first round proper tie against Concord Rangers.

First Round
The first round proper is where the Conference Premier teams enter the competition. Gosport see off fellow Conference South side Concorde Rangers with a 1-0 win at home. While Cambridge start their road to Wembley with an all Conference Premier tie away at Salisbury City

Second Round
Cambridge see off plucky Calor Premier side St Albans City 2-1 with a last-minute winner from on loan debutant Aaron Pierre. Gosport get a fantastic result with a penalty shoot out win at High Flying Conference premier side Nuneaton Town, Both games ending goalless before Gosport won 4-3 on penalties.

Third Round
Gosport had Jamie Brown to thank as he scored the only goal in a 1-0 win that saw off Calor Prem side Hungerford Town, but arguably the tie of the round was Cambridge against Luton, First v Second from the Conference Premier. Cambridge came from two goals down to earn a replay at Kenilworth Road, where Ashley Chambers scored the only goal of the game as Cambridge made it to round 4.

Fourth Round
Without doubt Gosport pulled off result of the round in round 4, a 2-1 win away at title chasing North Ferriby from the Conference North was enough to send them in to the semi finals and award them with a 2 legged tie against local neighbours Havant & Waterlooville. Cambridge struggled through, but a single goal from Luke Berry gave them a 1-0 win at Conference South title hopefuls Eastleigh.

Semi Finals
The two-legged semi final draw made for interesting reading.
Cambridge United v Grimsby Town
Havant & Waterlooville v Gosport Borough
The two Conference premier teams were drawn together so it meant we’d have a team from step 6 in the Final.

The first leg of Cambridge v Grimsby was a 2-1 victory for the U’s with Grimsby pulling a last minute goal back to make the second leg more interesting. Havant and Gosport had to wait an extra 2 days to get their first leg tie underway after a waterlogged pitch forced the postponement of the original Saturday tie. Tim Sills got the opening goal for Gosport before Ciardini pulled one back and levelled things up at 1-1.

With both games finely poised, the second legs made for interesting games. An early Cambridge goal made things difficult for Grimsby, and although they pulled one back to level up the second leg 1-1 it wasn’t enough to prevent Cambridge reaching Wembley with a 3-2 agg victory. Two goals from Tim Sills ensured Gosport made the final as Havant went down 2-0. Despite playing the last half an hour with ten men, Alex Pike’s men held on for their first Wembley final with a 3-1 agg victory.

Cambridge will go in to the final as massive favourites, theres 40 places between the teams in the league pyramid and although they have games in hand Gosport are languishing near the bottom of the Conference South. But as the old cliche goes, anything can happen in football and especially in a cup final at Wembley. Just ask Manchester City fans about last seasons FA Cup.

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