Handsworth FC eye FA Cup upset against Sheffield rivals Stocksbridge Park Steels

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The FA Cup draw has thrown up more than its fair share of tasty ties over the years, not least the 1993 semi-final between Sheffield’s two biggest clubs.

And Saturday will see another two teams from the city go head to head for a place in the first qualifying round of the world’s oldest football competition.

Handsworth FC of the Northern Counties East League Premier Division have been drawn at home against Stocksbridge Park Steels (3pm kick-off), who play one division higher in the Northern Premier League Division One East.

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Up for the Cup: Handsworth FC vice chairman Steve Holmes.Up for the Cup: Handsworth FC vice chairman Steve Holmes.
Up for the Cup: Handsworth FC vice chairman Steve Holmes.

"It’s a massive game for us,” said Steve Holmes, vice chairman of underdogs Handsworth.

"I’m pretty certain if you went one to 16 in the squads our lads would be saying: ‘yeah, we fancy this’. We have had a good start to the season.

"We really have got a talented forward line for our level of football. I’m pretty certain Stocksbridge would be looking at our lads thinking they wouldn’t mind them in their squad.”

Steve hopes the tie will attract a crowd of up to 400, with £1,444 in prize money available to the winners, while the losers will receive £481.

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And this weekend’s clash has all the ingredients for an upset.

Steels boss Chris Hilton has never won an FA Cup game in his eight years at the club and is sweating on the fitness of last season’s top-scorer Luke Mangham, among others.

The management teams of both sides are also “intrinsically linked” as Stocksbridge coach Ryan Laight works at Handsworth alongside their assistant manager Aiden Spowage delivering the club’s education programme.

“If we win it could be brilliant for us,” Steve added.

"The FA Cup rounds are so, so important for every single one of us non-league clubs just for surviving each year.

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"Every game is difficult because our league is the lowest-ranked to enter so every team you are playing is above you.”

Ninth-tier Handsworth have already won one match to reach the preliminary round. They overcame AFC Mansfield 2-0 in front of 168 fans on Saturday, 7 August.

Stocksbridge vice-chairman, Roger Gissing, said: "The manager watched them in the last round and thought they were pretty average but you never know in football.

"We actually played them a few years back and they tonked us 4-1. It’s early season, anything can happen early on.

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"It’s who turns up on the day and how fit they are. We have got a couple of lads that are struggling. It just seems to be one injury after another at the minute.”

Stocksbridge should have former Sheffield United youngster Nathaniel Crofts available for selection against Handsworth.

The winger joined the club this summer after taking part in the men’s soccer program at the University of Virgina, where he played alongside ex-Barnsley loanee Daryl Dike.

Meanwhile, Sheffield FC, the world’s oldest football club, are preparing to welcome TV crews to their FA Cup match against Sherwood Colliery at the Home of Football Ground on Saturday.

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The game will kick off at 12.30pm and will be broadcast live on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport online and via the Red Button.

No fewer than 729 teams have entered the FA Cup this year, 637 of them at the qualifying stage, which began on 6 August with the first of the competition’s 13 rounds.

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