Following the 7-2 win over Helston Athletic in the Third Qualifying Round, The Seagulls made it to the Fourth Qualifying Round of the FA Cup for the fifth time in nine seasons, dating back to 2014.
That year, Weston reached the Fourth Qualifying Round and a 2-1 victory at Witham Town saw The Seagulls go on to host Doncaster Rovers in the First Round Proper, and this tie with the South Yorkshire side is memorable for many Weston supporters of all ages. As usual, Weston started in the Second Qualifying Round that season due to their National League South status and won 3-0 at home to Banbury United before a 4-1 success at Flackwell Heath in the Third Qualifying Round.
In the Banbury game, Jake Harris scored a brace either side of a goal from Corey Williams. In the next round, Ryan Bath scored twice at Flackwell Heath and he was joined on the scoresheet that day by Tom Jordan and Sam Teale.
In the final qualifying game at Witham, Mickey Bell’s Seagulls side emerged victorious in an extremely closely-fought game. Witham had taken an early lead, but Weston equalised through Clayton Fortune before a comical own goal put Weston ahead. The home side then missed a late penalty when the ball cannoned away off the top of Luke Purnell’s crossbar. The penalty was awarded after Jacob Cane was penalised for an excellent (but illegal) save with his hands on the goal-line. Cane was sent for an early bath but Weston held on to spark jubilant celebrations amongst the players and fans at the final whistle, as The Seagulls booked themselves a place in the First Round Proper for the first time since November 8, 2003.
That day, Billy Clark scored the only goal in our 1-0 victory at Farnborough, before eventually losing at Northampton Town in the Second Round Proper.
In the 2015-16 season, The Seagulls had found their way past Hook Norton in the Second Qualifying Round and then Wingate & Finchley in the Third Qualifying Round. Ryan Northmore’s Weston side avoided potential banana skins in both games as Bradley Ash scored a brace in the Wingate game, either side of a wonderful goal from Jake Mawford. Sadly, Weston’s dream of reaching the ‘proper’ stages of the competition were scuppered after a 2-1 defeat at St Albans City, in what proved to be yet another away game in that season’s competition.
Weston’s next appearance at the fourth qualifying stage proved to be a memorable encounter at the Woodspring Stadium on October 20, 2018. Considering the time of year, it was a glorious, warm and sunny afternoon here in North Somerset as we took on fellow National League South side, Bath City.
A large crowd arrived here in BS24, with many expecting a Romans victory considering Weston’s and Bath’s league positions at the time. Gethyn Hill’s early tap-in and the heroics of Purnell between the sticks produced something of a cup shock in front of joyous scenes at the end, and saw The Seagulls make the First Round Proper, where we eventually lost to Wrexham after a gallant display.
The last time Weston reached the final stage before the First Round Proper was two years ago, in the 2020-21 season. After victories over Cowes Sports, Swindon Supermarine and Larkhall Athletic, Weston were handed an extremely tough draw away to National League side, Eastleigh. A good away following of supporters would have been guaranteed but, sadly, the game was played behind closed doors due to the pandemic. On the day, Chris Knowles scored a late consolation in a 3-1 defeat.
Weston will now head to Barnet this Saturday, backed by a big following from the Seagull Army, in their latest Fourth Qualifying Round tie.