Last year at this stage, totally against my better judgement, I decided to have a go at predicting the outcome of all eight games. By some miracle, I managed to get them all correct. Of course, it was more luck than anything else which I am sure will be proven this year when I get them all wrong. However, its all a bit of fun, so let's take a bash at it.
BotP, of course, uses a combination of scientifically proven methods (the BotP FA Vase Index) - No, honest it is science - alongside various other much more random facts to decide which way the ties might go. For instance, what if matches were influenced by the population count of the team's village/town/city, you may ask? Well, ask no more because here at BotP we do the investigations for you (well, we look at Wikipedia anyway).
However, here at BotP we prefer to use just plain old football intuition. So, without further ado lets take a look at the games and make a prediction for each one, starting with a few facts and figures about the draw.
- Windsor and West Auckland share the least number of games played, three each. Oddly both teams have been drawn away from home at every stage so far and both are away again in Round 5.
- Irlam are the only team to have been drawn at home in every game so far and, as luck would have it, they are at home again in Round 5.
- West Auckland are the lowest scorers remaining with just 4 in their three games. However, they are also the only team that have yet to concede a goal in the competition.
- Chertsey Town are now the leading scorers in the competition with 23 in their 6 games.
- For value for money watch Deeping Rangers who have seen a total of 27 goals in their 6 games, 22 for and 5 against, at an average of 4.5 per game.
- Histon will be pleased that their tie with Northwich Victoria is a home game because The Vics have yet to concede a Vase goal on their home patch. The Stutes will be hoping to get the job done without a replay.
- Sholing, who have played two at home and two away, are yet to concede a goal on their travels.
Population says: Irlam
BotP Pick - Chertsey Town
Cray Valley (PM) v Abbey Rangers. The Fifth Round is very much uncharted territory for both of these sides. Rangers have a slight edge on experience with a Third Round appearance in their history books as opposed to Cray's best being the Second Round. Both are just bubbling under the main promotion challengers in their respective leagues, but won't consider themselves out of contention completely. Home advantage could well be the deciding factor in a tie that is very difficult to call.
Population says: Cray Valley PM
BotP Pick - Cray Valley PM
Histon v Northwich Victoria. Two sides who, in the not too distant past, plied their trade at a much higher level. In fact, ten seasons ago this was a Step 1 fixture in the old Football Conference. Histon finished third that season but Northwich went down, starting what was a steady decade of decline, mirrored two seasons later by The Stutes. Both are now in Step 5 but are pushing to get themselves back up the pyramid. Botp thinks that the Cambridgeshire outfit will have just a little too much for Vics.
Population says: Northwich Victoria
BotP Pick - Histon
Sholing v Sporting Khalsa. The Boatmen are, of course, the only side left in the competition who have previously won the FA Vase, beating West Auckland Town in the 2013-14 Final. They are also having a superb league season and are firm favourites for promotion back to Step 4. Khalsa, who went down to Godmanchester Rovers in the previous round, find themselves reprieved after Goddy were found to have played an illegible player. They have Vase pedigree in the form of a Quarter-Final appearance two years ago but may find a trip to the South coast a step too far this season.
Population says: Sportign Khalsa
BotP Pick - Sholing
Hebburn Town v West Auckland Town. This promises to be an incredibly tight encounter. The teams are side by side in the Northern League table, Hebburn currently a couple of points to the good. However, West Auckland certainly have the FA Vase pedigree of the two with a pair of Final appearances to their name compared with Hebburn who have only made Round Two previously. West Auckland don't score many but they have a very tight defence that is yet to concede in the Vase. This may be the difference between the teams in the end.
Population says: Hebburn Town
BotP Pick - West Auckland Town
Biggleswade v Windsor. Biggleswade are probably the most in-form side left in the competition. They are currently second in the SSML Premier but have four games in hand on the leaders and are just three points adrift. Windsor, however, are made of stern stuff when it comes to the Vase this season. Thee away ties, three wins including an impressive 4-1 at AFC Uckfield Town in the last round. Despite that though, Biggleswade may just have enough to progress, especially with home advantage.
Population says: Windsor
BotP Pick - Biggleswade
Willand Rovers v Deeping Rangers. This could be the pick of the round in my opinion. BotP had the pleasure of being at Deeping's win over Eastwood in the last round. They are a very strong, solid side who showed their Step 5 credentials in an impressive second half performance. However, it is a very long trip to Devon and they have to face a Willand side who lead their table, are high on confidence and are banging in goals left, right and centre at the moment. They have scored 32 goals in their last 6 league outings, conceding just twice. For that reason alone, they might have too much fire-power for Rangers.
Population says: Deeping Rangers
BotP Pick - Willand Rovers
Canterbury City v Leicester Nirvana. Leicester have been re-instated to the competition after their Round Four conquerors, Coventry United, were found to have played an illegible player. Neither of these sides is setting their league alight this season and its fair to say that promotion is out of the question for both teams. With that in mind, it makes this game all that more important to both teams. It's an extremely difficult tie to call but it may well be that home advantage swings the tie.
Population says: Leicester Nirvana
BotP Pick - Canterbury City
The winners of each tie will receive £2,250 whist the losers will take home £750.
Good luck to all sixteen teams. Wembley is getting ever closer!!