Eastwood Community bowed out as the final Step 7 side, despite me trying to ignore extra-time and crediting them with a splendid 1-1 draw at Desborough Town. Once again, apologies to Ar Tarn and Eastwood for that shoddy piece of work. Lesson learned. Don't try to rush out pieces when time is severely limited (hence starting to put this one together in early December). Desborough Town, therefore, remain the Base of the Pyramid adopted club going into Round 4.
There are three Step 6 sides left in the hat and all three were drawn away from home, Wolverhampton Sporting Community at Cogenhoe, Hinckley make the long trip to Marske United and Norwich CBS visit Bell Close to play Leighton Town.
Let's take a look at each team in a little more detail.
Newcastle Benfield. As far as their FA Vase pedigree goes Benfield, under any of the current or previous incarnations, can boast a single Quarter-Final appearance as their best performance. This came in the 2013-14 season when, after seeing off Spennymoor Town in Round 5, they eventually succumbed to Leicestershire outfit St Andrews by a goal to nil. Their current season league form is indifferent. Sitting just below halfway, they are clear of the relegation pack but way too far back to realistically make any kind of push for promotion.
They will be pleased with their home draw but, on the minus side, they do have to face last season's beaten semi-finalists, Coleshill Town.
Coleshill Town. The Colemen are very well placed in the Midland Premier League and could well be far more interested in a promotion push than another FA Vase run. However they came so close to a Wembley appearance last season, losing out to South Shields in the Semi-Final, that the lure of the arch could be too much to resist. It's a long trip up to Newcastle and they wlll be well aware that The Lions disposed of 2014 champions North Shields in Round Three.
Wisbech Town. The Fenmen have a pretty decent Vase pedigree, reaching the Semi-Final twice in the 80's. In the 84-5 season they went out to eventual winners Halesowen Town. The following season they went down 5-3 on aggregate to Southall, after drawing 2-2 in the first leg. Southall went on to lose to Halesowen in the final. More recently they reached the Quarter-Final in the 2013-14 competition before going out, again to eventual winners, 1-0 to Sholing.
Bromsgrove Sporting. This is only the fifth season that Sporting have been in existence, after emerging from the ashes of Bromsgrove Rovers. As a Step 6 side they reached the Semi-Final last season, putting up a great display before going out 2-1 on aggregate to Cleethorpes Town. They are well placed in the Midland Premier and in a position to mount a second consecutive promotion push. Formidable home form has been the rock of their season so far, so being drawn away from The Victoria Ground could pose a problem.
Cogenhoe United. The Cooks have made four Fourth Round appearances in the Vase. The first time was only their third assault on the competition in the 1993-94 season. They took the scalp of Evesham United (after a replay) and Northampton Spence, amongst others, before bowing out to Oadby Town. Most recently, in 2008-09, they made Round 4 again before going down 2-1 to Bitton. It's not been the best of league campaigns so far, although they are well clear of danger. Maybe the Vase could provide a welcome spark to the season?
Wolverhampton Sporting Community. Last season's First Round achievement has been eclipsed by this journey to the Third Round. A 3-1 defeat at Hinckley marked the end of the road last season. This time, as one of only there Step 6 sides left, Wolves face a tought task at Step 5 Cogenhoe. Promotion from the West Midlands Regional Premier may be the main goal of the season and, at the time of writing, they are certainly in a very good position, sitting in second place behind Tividale but with games in hand.
Markse United. Two losing Quarter-Final appearances are the best runs that The Seasiders have had in the Vase. Just past the turn of the century they were beaten by Bedlington Terriers after a replay. In the 2008-09 season they went down 5-2 at Glossop. The last three league campaigns have been very successful for Marske and this season they are once again well in contention. They'll probably fancy their chances in the Vase this season, especially with a home tie against a Step 6 side to come.
Hinckley AFC. The current incarnation of Hinckley AFC has officially only been in existence for three full seasons. Last term as their best run in the Vase, a resounding 5-0 win over Berkhamsted being the highlight as they progressed to Round 5 before bowing out to Buckland Athletic at home. In the league they are still well in contention near the top of a very tightly congested Midland League Division One. It's a long trip North to Marske but, having already seen off Step 5 teams in the last two rounds, they won't be short on confidence.
1874 Northwich. Another side that hasn't been around for too long, 1874 have still managed to make a reasonable impression in the Vase. In four attempts they have managed Round Two in the past two seasons and, in 2014-15, they got to the Third Round before going out 3-0 to Glossop North End. In terms of current league standing, 1874 are below the halfway point in the North-West Counties Premier and still need a few more points on the board to avoid a worrying end of season run-in.
Stockton Town. Last season saw Stockton's best ever run in the Vase when they reached Round 2 before going down 1-0 to Ryhope Colliery Welfare. After promotion to Step 5 last season, they have already established a respectable mid-table position and should be free to enjoy a Vase run without any league worries. A home draw against a fellow Northern League side who are only five points ahead in the league could be the impetus they need to progress.
West Auckland Town. Could this be the season for the Vase bridesmaids? West have reached the final twice in fairly recent history, losing 2-0 to Dunston UTS in the 2011-12 final and then going down 1-0 to Sholing in the 2013-14 campaign. Very safe in the league but, in all honesty, too far back to make a title bid, they could have the freedom to push on in the Vase if they can overcome a tricky visit to Stockton.
Desborough Town. The BotP adopted team for this round. Ar Tarn have have two consecutive 4th Rounds under their belt, 2003-04 and 04-05. However, their best effort came in the 1979-80 season where the reached Round 5 before bowing out 3-0 to Stamford. League form has dropped off in recent weeks but they did enough earlier in the season to ensure that they won't have any relegation worries. A home draw in Round 4 could well be a deciding factor in their progress.
Stourport Swifts. The heyday of Swifts came just after the turn of the century. The 2000-01 season saw them win the Midland Alliance, albeit on goal difference, and reach Round 5 of the FA Vase, where they eventually lost 5-1 to Tooting & Mitcham. A visit to Waterworks Field is not going to be an easy prospect for Swifts. However, five of their seven league victories this season have come away from Walshes Meadow.
Melksham Town. There have been two 4th Round appearances for Town in recent seasons. A 3-1 defeat to Bradford Town saw them exit in the 2014-15 season. Last season they went out at the same stage after a 5-2 replay defeat to Bristol Manor Farm. Getting a home draw could be a massive boost for Town, having not lost at The Oakfield Stadium in any competition since September.
Crowborough Athletic. The Crows had a superb run to the Fifth Round last season before losing 6-3 to Coleshill Town. This matched their previous best effort from the 2007-08 season, when they went out to Kirkham & Wesham (now AFC Fylde) by a 2-0 scoreline. Crowborough are currently in second place in the Southern Counties East and well in contention for a title push. A visit to Melksham is not easy for any team at the moment and The Crows will need to be on top form to progress.
Westfields. Two Fourth Round ventures represent Westfields best runs in the Vase. In the 1986-87 season they went down 3-2 to Vauxhall Motors (Luton) and, more recently, they were beaten 3-0 by Morpeth Town in the 2013-14 campaign. With a home tie against newly promoted Hamble Club, Westfields will fancy their chances of progressing to the Fifth Round for the first time in their history.
Hamble Club. A first FA Vase adventure for The Monks but it could already be seen as a success, having already put out four fellow Wessex Premier outfits to get this far. They face a tough draw away at Westfields, who have lost just once in their last thirteen in all competitions.
Blackfield & Langley. The Watersiders are busy chasing down Andover Town at the top of the Wessex Premier, but are also in the midst of equalling their best ever Vase run. They have reached Round Four twice before, losing 3-2 to Bemerton Heath in 2012-13 and 3-0 to Larkhall Athletic the following season. Having only lost once at home this season, the draw could prove to be favourable for them.
Bracknell Town. The Robins reached Round 5 twice in the 1970's and 80's but have not make much of an impression in recent years. This season is the first time they have progressed past Qualifying for 5 years. Defeat to leaders Highworth on the last Saturday of the year, may well have placed more focus on the Vase for the Robins. The draw may be a disadvantage to Bracknell however, with all three of their league defeats coming away from Larges Lane.
Leighton Town. The Reds reached Round 5 in the 2003-04 season, going out 3-1 to Andover Town. Having spent the majority of the time since that run in Step 4, they only came back to the Vase after relegation two seasons ago. Although they have a couple of league games in hand, the thirteen point gap up to Berkhamsted may be just too much. So, a good run in the Vase may prove to be their best chance of glory, especially with one of the remaining Step 6 sides to come next.
Norwich CBS. CBS gained promotion into the Eastern Counties League last season and are more than holding their own in Step 6. They don't have too much in the way of FA Vase history, although they did reach the First Round in the 1977-78 season, as Norwich Union, before going out 2-0 to Histon. As with the other two Step 6 clubs, they have been drawn away from home.
Newport (IW). The Port have got as far as Round Five on three occasions, consecutive appearance in the 1991-92 and 92-93 seasons and a 2012-13 run that saw them eventually go out 2-1 to Ascot United after a replay. Currently sitting third from bottom, they may have more pressing matters than the FA Vase to deal with, espcially as they have played three more games than second-bottom Amesbury.
Bradford Town. The Bobcats only made their first Vase appearance in the 2009-10 season. However, in the short time, they have managed to reach the Fifth Round once (2014-15) and the Fourth Round twice, in 2015-16 and last season. Bradford have the opposite problem to their island opponents. They sit third in the Wessex Premier, nine points off leaders Street, but almost certainly still with their eyes on the title run-in.
Eastbourne Town. Eastbourne reached Round 4 last season before going out to Crowborough Athletic. They have managed Round 5 once, back in the 1975-76 season, when they were beaten 1-0 by Barton Rovers. Town a currently second in what is shaping up to be a titanic battle at the top of the Southern Combination Premier, with just six points separating the top seven clubs. Interestingly, the home draw may not be to their advantage as their league record on the road is much better than at home.
Windsor. Since their reformation in 2011 Windsor have only made it as far as Round 2. However, as Windsor & Eton they made a Semi-Final appearance in the 1980-81 season going out 2-1 on aggregate to eventual winners, Whichkam. Mid-table in the Hellenic Premier, they are way off the title pace but comfortably clear of the bottom third. Maybe a Vase run could be the tonic required to pep up their season?
Horley Town. This season has seen Horley surpass their best FA Vase run, a Round Three 3-1 defeat to Greenwich Borough. Currently sitting seventh in the league, Horley have no real opportunity of making a bid for the top but are also in absolutely no danger at the other end. This will allow them a certain amount of freedom to give the FA Vase a real shot.
Chichester City. Two previous Fourth Round appearances represent The Lilywhites best FA Vase achievements. In the 1995-96 campaign they went down 3-1 to Thamesmead Town at home. Last year they fell to Buckland Athletic, again losing 3-1 and, again, at home. City, like Eastbourne Town, are one of the teams involved in the Southern Combination Premier title race. They'll be wary of a trip to Horley, especially as four of their five league defeats have come on their travels.
Tring Athletic. Tring have made the Third Round on three previous occasions but last season saw them reach the Fourth Round for the first time in their history, going out 1-0 to Sporting Khalsa. Athletic may well be looking more closely at the league than the Vase. Since Sun Sports dropped out they find themselves rock-bottom but they do have games in hand on all of the teams above them. However, a home tie may well provide the impetus they need to lift their season.
Hullbridge Sports. The Bridge have made it to this stage on three previous occasions, consecutive appearances between the 2013-14 and 2015-15 seasons. On each occasion they fell away from home 1-3 to Sholing, 0-3 to Flackwell Heath and 2-4 to Berkhamsted. Like their opponents, Tring, Sports will probably have league matters to the forefront of their minds. Currently sitting second from bottom but they have seen some encouraging results in recent weeks.
Thatcham Town. The mid to late Eighties were The Kingfisher's most productive FA Vase years. In the 1985-86 season they progressed to Round 5 before going down 3-2 to Camberley Town. In the 1988-89 campaign they managed one better, going down 2-0 to Hungerford Town in the Quarter-Final. At the time of writing, Thatcham are the closest team to league leaders Highworth Town but are still eight points adrift, albeit with a game in hand. Unbeaten in any competition since October, they will be full of confidence.
Biggleswade. Last season was Biggleswade's first venture into the FA Vase, ending at the Second Round with a 5-3 defeat to Peterborough Sports. It's already been a very good first season at Step 5 for Biggleswade. They are well-placed in sixth spot, probably too far back to have a go at a second consecutive promotion, but still four points clear of local rivals United. They face a very tough task as high-flying Hellenic League Premier side Thatcham Town.
Note: League positions and points may have changed slightly since this piece was written.
Club websites, league websites, FA Full-Time (old version, of course) and, the rather excellent Football Club History Database