Solihull Moors continue to impress me with each week that passes, and tonight they sit just 90 minutes away from a potential dream tie in the third round with League One Blackpool the visitors to Damson Park.
A year ago, this would have been a compete mismatch with Moors seemingly doomed for relegation from the National League. But their resurgence has been one of the great stories of Non-League football as they fought off relegation and have mounted a charge up the National League table this term.
Now we are talking about a potential upset in the FA Cup against the Tangerines, and Moors’ form has not gone unnoticed with the visitors set to field close to their strongest line-up knowing how tough the clash will be.
While it can be argued Moors don’t hold out for signing box-office players – with a remit based on collective hard work rather than individual skill – manager Tim Flowers has plenty of experience in his ranks with players capable of stepping up for the big occasion.
Front man Kwame Thomas played for Blackpool in the FA Cup in 2015, and Darren Carter has bags of experience playing in the Premier League with Birmingham and West Bromwich Albion.
On paper it looks tough and it will be, but Moors could be taking this to a replay.
Ten Non-League teams left in the FA Cup but, unlike last season, at least this year we are guaranteed representation when the big guns come in for round three.
That is thanks to Barnet’s dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over League One Bristol Rovers a fortnight ago which earned John Still’s men a home tie with National League North side Stockport County on Saturday.
Form, of course, goes out of the window when it comes to the FA Cup, but wily campaigner Still will rightly be concerned by a recent slump which has seen the Bees lose each their last four games in the National League.
Stockport, in stark contrast, have lost just once in their last 13 matches in all competitions – a run which saw them produce a huge cup upset in toppling League Two Yeovil Town in the last round.
With home advantage, you’d expect higher-ranked Barnet to finish the job, but County are steeped in history and have all the hallmarks of a side who can compound their hosts’ misery and keep the Non-League flag flying.
Scarborough Athletic have really been able to harness the momentum of last season’s promotion to top the Evo-Stik NPL Premier at this early stage.
Boss Steve Kittrick knows how to get out of this level having done it with Guiseley – a club he was close to taking into Non-League’s top flight – and they have the players to go again.
In hometown boy Michael Coulson, they boast an attacker who was only recently playing in the League and has ten goals this season. Along with the James Walshaw, the division’s top scorer with 13, they are a potent attacking force.
This weekend’s opponents Basford United also won promotion last season. The Nottingham-based club have been on a rapid rise in recent years and have big plans for the future.
Manager Martin Carruthers also has a 13-goal scorer to call on, Nathan Watson, and striker Liam Hearn hit 47 goals in all competitions last season.
They come into the game a point outside the play-offs in sixth position – and hoping to show why they are the NPL Premier’s top scorers.