Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Thu 29 November 2007

SPAOTP's Road to Wembley: FA Cup 2nd Round Proper

We're back on the Road to Wembley today. "You're a bit early," we here you cry. "It's not Saturday yet."

Well no, but in the Second Round Proper of the FA Cup we're following non-league Horsham FC and tonight they're playing League 1 Swansea City, so we're bringing you all you need to know ahead of the game. Oh and in case you didn't know, this is the first time you'll be able to watch SPAOTP's adopted team live on TV as tonight's match is being shown on Sky Sports 1 here in the UK at 7.30pm GMT.

So to recap, the last round of the FA Cup (sponsored by E.ON) saw us following Maidenhead United as they travelled down to Horsham but yet again, we seem to have put a jinx on our team as they crashed 4-1 to the home side. It was therefore 'goodbye Maidenhead, hello Horsham' but shock horror - the Second Round draw saw one of our teams actually playing at home - and against one of the highest placed clubs in the round!

Yes, Horsham will play host to Swansea City this evening and it'll undoubtedly be a tough game, so let's get the low-down on The Hornets while we can, just in case anything unfortunate should happen...

Horsham FC has been in existence for a whopping 136 years. The 1920's and 1930's saw Horsham reach their first peak as they won the County League on several occasions but their first breakthrough into the First Round Proper of the FA Cup didn't come until the 1947-48 season.

In 1974, Horsham arrived in the Isthmian League where they currently reside (see our Football Pyramid for details) but by the end of the 1970's, The Hornets were battling to avoid bankruptcy. Relegation to the Isthmian League Second Division soon followed and the 1980's proved a difficult spell for them.

There then followed a gradual turn-around in their fortunes with the pinnacle of their achievements being promotion to the Isthmian League Premier Division in 2005-06. Last year they finished eighth in the league and they're currently seventh, so who knows - maybe promotion to the Conference South could be on the cards this season?

Their current form suggests Swansea might have a tough task on their hands this evening. Horsham have lost only two of their last eleven games in all competitions and a 1-0 win in the league last Saturday against Harrow Borough was the perfect way to prepare for a visit by The Swans in the Cup tonight.

Horsham's number 10, Carl Rook, is the man to keep an eye open for tonight. He's their top goalscorer so far this season in all competitions with 12 goals, but there's plenty more where that came from with Lewis Taylor, Simon Austin and Jacob Mingle all boasting six goals to their name too.

So can Manager John Maggs do the unthinkable and beat the might of Swansea City? They've been beaten by non-league opposition before as any fan of Nuneaton Borough or Bognor Regis Town will tell you. And given the fact that tickets for the tie sold out on Wednesday morning, I think it's fair to say the locals are more than optimistic it can happen.

Let's wish our team for the Second Round, Horsham FC, the best of luck for tonight and who knows - they might just face Manchester United in the next round...

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