FA Cup newcomers and reigning Leicestershire Women’s Senior League champions Cosby United Women will take on Lincoln Moorlands Railway in tie number 21 of the first qualifying round. Cosby won promotion to the East Midlands Regional League Division One South by taking 13 wins from 16 games at county league level last season, while Moorlands had a mid-table finish in Division One North of that league with six wins out of 16. Lincoln Moorlands Railway reached the third qualifying round of last year’s FA Cup, beating Dronfield Town in a penalty shoot-out in qualifying round two before falling 6-1 to Warrington Wolverines.
Loughborough Students had a season to forget last year, finishing dead last in Midlands Division One of the FA WPL and being eliminated from the FA Cup in their first match. They suffered the ignominy of being relegated to the East Midlands Regional League with a negative points total, taking 21 defeats and a draw from their 22 league matches and being hit with a two-point deduction, leaving them with a grand total of -1 points at the end of the campaign. They were knocked out of the cup by Leek Town, who at the time played two levels lower than the students in the pyramid. Mansfield had a much stronger season, finishing in third place in the East Midlands Regional League Premier Division and taking 14 wins from 20 games. They are returning to the FA Cup after a couple of years off, their last participation came in 2014/15 when they were knocked out in the first round proper by Radcliffe Olympic.
23. AFC Leicester (@AFCLeicester) v Leicester City Women Development
Tie number 23 sees a Leicester derby between AFC Leicester and Leicester City Women’s development team, as the top and bottom teams from last season’s East Midlands Regional League Division One South face off against each other. Bottom-placed AFC Leicester avoided the drop thanks to there being just nine teams in the division, meaning there was no relegation this year. Leicester City Women’s Development managed to win 15 out of 16 league games, earning them a second divisional title in as many seasons and promotion to the EMWRL Premier Division. The teams’ form in last season’s FA Cup reflected how things went in the league – AFC Leicester lost in qualifying round two to Market Warsop of the Nottinghamshire County League, while Leicester City WD made it all the way to the first round proper, beating Winterton Rangers, Bedworth United and Leek Town before being eliminated by Sheffield United. Both league meetings between the teams last year ended in 8-0 wins for Leicester City WD, so they can probably be considered strong favourites to progress on to the next round.
Rise Park and Teversal are both members of the East Midlands Women’s Regional Football League, Rise Park play in the Premier Division and Teversal in Division One North. Both sides were knocked out in the second qualifying round of last year’s FA Cup in wildly contrasting manners: after a goalless draw with Arnold Town, Rise Park narrowly missed out on progressing to the third qualifying round in a penalty shoot-out. Teversal on the other hand were on the receiving end of the joint-biggest winning margin in the entire tournament – their 16-0 defeat to Nettleham was matched only by Leyton Orient’s thrashing of Ascot United in the following round. Teversal also found the league tough going last season, failing to win a match all season, but there was no relegation from EMWRFL Division One North this year so they get another chance this season despite finishing bottom. Rise Park were mid-table finishers in the Premier Division, with 10 wins and a draw from 20 games putting them in sixth place out of 11 teams.
Market Warsop v Nettleham is a rematch of last season’s FA Women’s Cup Third Qualifying Round, when Nettleham just edged out their Nottinghamshire County League opponents 4-3. In the previous round Nettleham had beaten Teversal 16-0, which as mentioned above, was the joint biggest winning margin by any team in last season’s FA Cup, and they went on to lose to Guiseley Vixens in qualifying round four. Market Warsop’s cup run had begun with a 5-1 win over AFC Leicester in the second qualifying round, before being stopped by Nettleham. In the league, Market Warsop ended their Nottinghamshire County League campaign with 13 wins from 14 games, giving them the league title and promotion to the East Midlands Regional League, while Nettleham finished mid-table in the EMWRFL Premier Division.
Eastwood are newcomers to the FA Cup this season, but the most impressive thing about them is that they exist at all. Up until last season they were the development team of Notts County, and despite their parent club folding earlier in the year they still managed to complete the season and to re-form in the summer under a new name. Even with that massive upheaval they just managed to avoid relegation from the East Midlands League Premier Division, finishing in tenth place out of 11 with 7 points and a sizable goal difference of -100, one place below Arnold Town on 17 points. Their head-to-head record in the league last year saw a 3-0 win for Arnold Town and a 1-1 draw. Arnold Town reached the third qualifying round in last season’s FA Cup, and bizarrely both of their cup ties ended in penalty shoot-outs that finished 4-3. They beat Rise Park 4-3 on pens after a 0-0 draw in qualifying round two, then lost by the same score to Coventry Ladies Development after a 3-3 draw.
Tie 27 is an all-West Midlands Regional League affair, with both Leafield Athletic and Knowle playing in the Premier Division. Leafield’s last season was one of consolidation after having been relegated from the FA WPL in 2016. In the end they finished in fourth place in the WMRWFL Premier, winning eight of their 18 games, and taking a year off from FA Cup duties. Their last FA Cup campaign in 2015/16 saw them lose their only match 4-3 to The New Saints in the third qualifying round. Knowle finished last season five places below Leafield in the table in 9th place and were knocked out of the FA Cup in qualifying round two by Leek Town, but the big story of their year was the destruction of their clubhouse by Storm Doris in February which forced the club to relocate. There were plenty of goals flying in during the two league meetings between these sides last season. The first game between them back in October ended in a 4-4 draw, then Leafield won the return fixture 5-2 in January.
28. Leek Town v Solihull United
Leek Town finished in a respectable third place in their first season in the West Midlands Regional League Division One North, following on from their Staffordshire County League championship in 2016. Twelve wins from 20 games showed that they were more than able to cope with the step up in class, and they narrowly missed out on reaching the FA Cup competition proper too in what can be considered a successful season. Their cup run began with victories over Knowle and then-WPL side Loughborough Students, before coming to an end when they were beaten 2-1 after extra time by Leicester City Women’s development team. Solihull United weren’t in the FA Cup last year, and they finished a disappointing seventh place in Division One South of the WMRWFL thanks to a six-point deduction for failing to fulfill two fixtures. They can take some heart though from the fact that they would have finished as high as fourth in the table had they not had those points taken away.
29. Wyrley v Lye Town (@LadiesLye)
Wyrley and Lye Town only managed one win between them in last season’s FA Cup – Wyrley managed to beat Shrewsbury Town in the second qualifying round before losing to Radcliffe Olympic at the next stage, and Lye lost in qualifying round two to Burton Albion. Both teams performed much better in the league however, with Lye ending the season in third place in the West Midlands Regional League Premier Division and Wyrley managing a second-place finish in Division One North, despite a three-point deduction.
Reigning West Midlands Regional League Division One North champions Stockingford AA Pavilion visit Division One South runners-up Redditch United in tie number 30. Stockingford won a remarkable 18 out of 20 games on their way to taking the divisional title, undefeated, by a whopping 19-point margin, while Redditch missed out on the top spot (and promotion to the Premier Division) by just 5 points. In last year’s FA Cup, Stockingford AA Pavilion were defeated 2-1 in the second qualifying round by Stourbridge. Redditch are making their FA Cup debut this season.