Harborough Town FC V Chelmsford City FC
The Isuzu FA Trophy second round proper
The Harborough Town Community Football Ground, Saturday 18th November 2023, 3:00pm kick-off.
Chelmsford City begin their 2023/24 FA Trophy campaign with a trip to Leicestershire to face Harborough Town FC.
Saturday’s game promises to be a competitive affair, as both sides head into the match looking to keep their impressive recent unbeaten records still intact.
Harborough, based in the outskirts of the market town Market Harborough, are enjoying their best ever run in the competition and enter Saturday’s game nine games unbeaten in the league. The Clarets will seek to prevent the Bees from going ten matches without defeat, by extending their own unbeaten run to eight games in all competitions.
Northern Premier League Midlands Division side Harborough Town are currently experiencing a memorable season in both the FA Trophy and in the league. The Bees stung Lye Town, Hinckley Leicester Road, and Biggleswade Town in the first, second and third qualifying rounds of the FA Trophy this season. Harborough then overcame Northern Premier League West Division side Avro in the first-round proper of the competition, setting up this weekend’s clash.
Mitch Austin’s side have done well to balance their successful FA Trophy campaign alongside their league season so far. A 6-0 away win to Gresley Rovers on Tuesday night helped the club climb to the top of the Northern Premier League Midlands Division table, as Harborough vie for their second promotion in three seasons.
First established as Harborough Juniors in 1975, Harborough Town FC came to fruition in 2007 following a merger between Harborough Town Juniors, Harborough Spencers and Harborough Minis. In 2021/22, the club was promoted to the Northern Premier League Midlands Division after winning the United Counties League Premier Division South.
Following this promotion, The Bees finished in a comfortable 8th place in their first campaign in the Northern Premier League Midlands Division. They also competed in the FA Trophy for the first time last season, reaching the third qualifying round of the competition, meaning they have already bettered their performance from last season this time around.
Mitch Austin has strengthened his squad in the build-up to this weekend’s game by recently completing the additions of Joel Catra and Jordan Crawford. Attacking midfielder Catra had been playing for Ashby Ivanhoe this season, but has returned to The Harborough Town Community Football Ground after spending the previous two seasons with the Bees. Midfielder Crawford has joined the Bees on loan from National League North club Brackley, and adds some higher-level experience to Austin’s side, having previously played in the second tier of Non-League Football.
Most recent meeting:
Saturday’s game will mark the first ever meeting between the Clarets and Harborough.
This weekend’s match will be City’s first FA Trophy tie since our trip to York at the beginning of 2023. Last season, Simpson’s side defeated Redditch United and National League side Wealdstone in the second and third round of the competition respectively, setting up another tie against National League opponents in York City in the fourth round.
Eduino Vaz’s powerful cross-turned-shot in the 36th minute cancelled out Olly Dyson’s backpost header, forcing a penalty shootout to determine the winner at the LNER Stadium. After York keeper Ethan Ross saved the Clarets’ second spot kick of the shootout taken by Simeon Jackson, the hosts maintained their 100% record from all five penalties, winning the shootout 5-4.
FA Trophy rules:
The Clarets and the 23 other National League South clubs enter the competition in the Second Round proper, alongside the 24 National League North teams. National League clubs will enter the hat when the draw is made for the Third Round proper.
As Clarets fans will know following last year’s tie against York City, if the scores remain level after 90 minutes then FA Trophy ties go straight to penalties with no extra-time played.
Robbie Simpson is allowed to name a maximum of 7 players on the bench in the FA Trophy.
Jazzi Barnum-Bobb is unavailable this weekend following his international call-up for St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Clarets return to league action a little over 48 hours after visiting Harborough, when Maidstone visit the Melbourne Community Stadium on Monday 20th November.
Therefore, with the busy schedule continuing, Robbie Simpson may look to use Saturday’s cup clash as an opportunity to rotate his squad.
Matchday ticket prices at The Harborough Town Community Football Ground are as follows:
· Adults – £10
· Concessions (65+) – £5
· U16s – £2
Clarets fans making the journey from Chelmsford should know that it takes around 2 hours to travel by car from the Melbourne Community Stadium to The Harborough Town Community Football Ground.
The Chelmsford City Supporters Club coach will depart Melbourne Park at 11:00. At the time of writing, you can still book a place on the coach by contacting @CCSC_Coach on X.
How to follow the game:
Radio Clarets will be providing live audio commentary of Saturday’s proceedings at The Harborough Town Community Football Ground.
Clarets fans can find pre-match coverage of Saturday’s game, and live updates of proceedings in Leicestershire by following the club’s X (formerly Twitter) page: @OfficialClarets and Instagram page: chelmsfordcityfc.
Post-match reactions will be found on the club’s website, official social media channels and on ClaretsTV.
Words by Jake Dixon.