North Leigh’s ‘Road to Wembley’ gets underway this weekend in a very tough tie against Hanwell Town in the preliminary round of the FA Cup. The visitors will look to continue winning ways after a great start to the league season has put them top of the Isthmian South Central Division with a 100% win record. The Miller’s season-opening has also been fairly successful after a 3-1 victory against Dunstable and 3-2 derby defeat against Thame United has left them 8th.
After a record FA Cup 4th qualifying round appearance in the 2016/17 season, North Leigh disappointed last season under then-manager John Brough. Perhaps unlucky in their selected opponents, the Millers were knocked out in the 1st qualifying round replay away to Biggleswade Town. A 2-2 draw at Eynsham Park gave Biggleswade a second chance who went on to win 3-2 at the Carlsberg Stadium.
Hanwell Town managed one step further last year with comfortable wins against Longlevens and Brightsea Regent early in the competition. They were then knocked out in the 2nd qualifying round replay with a 5-0 loss at the Queen Elizabeth II Stadium. Their record FA Cup performance also came in recent history with a 3rd qualifying round appearance in 2015.
Despite a difficult season with a relegation battle and 18th placed finish, managers Chris Moore & Wayne Carter have turned The Geordies’ fate around as they now lye in 1st place after a 2-0 and 3-1 win so far. With more goals scored, North Leigh are no pushovers but their defensive record is minor cause for concern conceding 4 goals and yet to keep a clean sheet.
Whatever the outcome, the match is sure to be a thriller and these goalscoring giants face up against each other in the heart of West Oxfordshire at Eynsham Park.