We are still in the dark regarding the FA Trophy, but after a little digging I have unearthed the reason for the uncertainty. The situation isn’t quite as straightforward as you might think.
Many people have made reference to Droylsden being thrown out of the FA Cup for fielding an illegible player, namely Sean Newton (if you’d read my book, you’d know that). I’m led to believe that Shaw Lane played a player who was meant to be suspended in their tie with Nantwich, an issue that on the face of it could lead to their expulsion from the competition.
It isn’t as straight forward as that though. I’m told that the player in question had signed for Shaw Lane this season, and there was some issue with the spelling of his first name when he was registered with the FA. I’m still not aware of the player, but a source has told me his name could be spelt in two ways leading the FA to initially believe he was okay to play in the 4th Qualifying tie with Nantwich.
It does leave who is to blame open to debate. Perhaps the player should have realised he was banned, but the club may not have been aware. It is also possible that the FA have registered the player incorrectly and therefore the club and player are not at fault at all.
It does mean that the situation is taking some time to resolve, but the ambiguous nature of the problem leaves the potential verdict wide open. I can see four courses of action which I will outline below.
The most likely outcome in my eyes is a replay between Shaw Lane and Nantwich. It does seem that blame could be placed in more than one place, and the FA will want to be as reasonable as possible. This isn’t the big competition so the situation isn’t in the media spotlight, and for that fact they can be more lenient towards Shaw Lane.
The second most likely outcome is that Shaw Lane are disqualified from the competition and we are forced to travel to Nantwich instead. This wouldn’t be ideal for City though, Danny and Nicky have already done their homework on Shaw Lane and would have to do it all over again for new opposition.
The final two (less likely) outcomes are that Shaw Lane are completely cleared of any wrongdoing, or that Lincoln are given a bye to the next round. Both are possible outcomes, but if the verdict was likely to fully exonerate the Ducks then I don’t think the game on Sunday would have been postponed. I’m also sure if there is a disqualification then Nantwich are going to want to be allowed a crack at the high-flying Imps.
The important question from the Imps perspective is the timescale of a resolution. A free weekend is not ideal when you’re on the sort of confident, winning run that we are on. Having despatched League One Oldham on Monday it would have been great to have another game this weekend to continue the motion of the Lincoln Loco. With two games coming up in four days (against Tranmere 17th, then Solihull on 20th) it might begin to fill out a little too much for our squad to cope with.
Any replay between Shaw Lane and Nantwich would probably take place on Tuesday 13th December, meaning that a second postponement of the Solihull Moors game is likely on December 20th in order for us to face the winners. That would give us a comfortable six days over Christmas to prepare for the Guiseley double header.
I suspect it is highly unlikely we’ll be asked to play either side next week ahead of the Tranmere game, and I think it would be grossly unfair coming in to the festive period if the FA ruled Nantwich as our opponents and set December 13th as a date. It wouldn’t leave our meticulous coaches any time to prepare for the game, and it would mean a gruelling three games in eight days after eight days without a match.
We’re hoping for a verdict today, so by the time you read this after getting in from work, it may be a pointless blog. I thought I’d tell you that at the end of the article though, not the start.