Hawks and Gosport Borough both drawn away in second qualifying round of the FA Cup
Hawks will face lower division opposition in the FA Cup for the fifth time in six rounds.
Today’s second qualifying round tie gave Paul Doswell’s men a trip to either Beaconsfield Town or Walton & Hersham on Saturday, September 18.
Walton, who play at the same level as the Wessex League Premier Division, claimed a superb 2-2 draw at two divisions higher Beaconsfield at the weekend.
Beaconsfield are divisional rivals of Gosport Borough in the Southern League Premier South - one tier lower than Hawks.
Walton and Beaconsfield replay tomorrow night for the right to host Hawks, who last season reached the second round proper for only the second time in their history.
En route, they only played one club from the same level as themselves - Bath City - and were drawn against lower tier opposition in the other four rounds.
Hawks beat Horsham (one tier lower), Chatham (three tiers lower) and Cray Valley Paper Mills (two tiers lower) before a last-minute extra-time loss at two divisions lower Marine.
Back in the 1970s, Walton & Hersham were renowned cup performers - beating Brian Clough’s Brighton 4-0 (in a replay at the Goldstone Ground!) and Exeter City in FA Cup ties and only losing 1-0 to Malcolm Allison’s Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Under the management of Allan Batsford, the Swans also won the FA Amateur Cup in 1973 – beating Sutton United 1-0 in front of over 40,000 at Wembley. They didn’t concede a single goal in the tournament that season.
Seven members of that Walton side later moved with Batsford to play for Wimbledon, helping the club to the Southern League title and winning promotion to the Football League in 1977.
More recently, Walton & Hersham have fallen on hard times - slipping into the 10th tier of the pyramid, the Combined Counties League Division 1.
Promoted as part of the FA’s restructuring, they have won their first three Combined Counties League Premier South games this season as well as winning through two rounds of the FA Cup.
Beaconsfield struggled during the two pandemic-wrecked campaigns, but started this season with two away wins - at Dorchester and Kings Langley.
They lost their next two heavily - 5-1 at Tiverton and 4-0 at Merthyr - before a 2-0 home loss to table-topping Hayes & Yeading.
Gosport’s reward for their dramatic 2-1 win against Plymouth Parkway at the weekend is a second qualifying round trip to Yate Town.
That will mean a second game against Yate in eight days, as the two clubs meet at Privett Park in a league game this Saturday.
The Gloucestershire club have begun their league campaign well, with two wins, two draws and a loss - and the defeat was against Hayes & Yeading.
They also won 3-1 at divisional rivals Dorchester in the FA Cup last Saturday, striker Olly Mehew - once on Blackburn and Bristol Rovers’ books - netting twice.
Chichester City have been drawn at home to National League South high-fliers Maidstone United.
Ex-Hawks winger Roarie Deacon was among the scores for the Stones as they won 3-1 at Oxford City last weekend to stay second behind Dartford.
Chi, of course, hit the national headlines in 2019/20 when they reached the second round proper.
There are two Wessex League clubs left in the draw.
Shaftesbury will host Hawks’ league rivals Bath City if they can beat higher tier Highworth in a replay tomorrow, while Hamworthy United will travel to Cirencester if they can beat two leagues higher Merthyr in another replay the same evening.
Each club who wins their second qualifying round tie will bank £3,375 with the losers collecting £1,125.