FANS feeling a little nervous about Sunday’s game against Stockport County may find some solace in the fact Wanderers boast an excellent record against non-league clubs in the FA Cup.

Since the turn of the last century, Bolton have lost just one of 18 meetings with sides based outside the Football League – and that was 110 years ago!

Stockport were only relegated from the 92 in 2011, falling to the sixth tier of English football a couple of years later. But with fresh investment and a new manager in Dave Challinor, the Hatters are hoping to return to the EFL in the near future.

Before the restructure of the FA Cup the modern format, in which clubs from the top two divisions begin in the third round and most non-league clubs would have to qualify for the ‘proper’ rounds, Wanderers actually fell foul to a couple of non-Football League sides.

In 1888/89 they became the first English side to be knocked out by a non-English non-league team as they lost 4-0 to Irish outfit Linfield Athletic as a First Division Club.

And the following season they were beaten again by non-league opponents, this time in the form of The Wednesday. Incredibly, this happened at the semi-final stage.

It happened again in 1911, when Chesterfield beat the Whites 2-0 at Burnden Park, a decade before they became one of the founder members of the Division Three North.

The FA Cup got a shake-up in 1925/26, which meant there were more hurdles to jump for teams lower down the emerging ‘pyramid’ and it took on roughly the same structure which is followed to this very day.

Since the turn of the last century Wanderers have faced non-league opposition in the FA Cup on 18 occasions – they slugged it out against Bangor in the snow at Burnden, faced Rossendale United at Bury’s Gigg Lane in the second round and Wakefield-Emley in Huddersfield but emerged unscathed.

They have also been taken to a replay five times, the most recent being in 2016 when National League Eastleigh took Neil Lennon’s side to a replay on a muddy Silverlake Stadium.

Here we take a look at some of the classic non-league tangles from the archives where it got a little too close for comfort.

November 13, 1993: Wanderers 3 Gretna 2

Owen Coyle saved Wanderers’ blushes and spared his side a verbal bashing from an irate Bruce Rioch.

The Northern League side, then playing south of the border in England, chose to switch the game to Burnden Park for more gate receipts but very nearly ruined one of Bolton’s most famous FA Cup campaigns before it even began.

Derek Townsley put Gretna ahead before John McGinlay pulled one back from the penalty spot. Mark Dobie then restored the Scottish club’s lead, prompting a fiery rebuke from Rioch at the interval.

"Bruce certainly didn't mince his words at half-time,” recalled Owen Coyle, whose two second-half goals eventually saw the Whites home safely. “We were looking at being on the wrong end of one of the biggest shocks in FA Cup history. We had been used to being the giant-killers ourselves and it was a horrible feeling to suddenly be experiencing the other side of it.

"We were one very relieved team in the dressing room after the game. I don't know if we were complacent that day, but Gretna played brilliantly and we were in trouble and certainly pushed the panic button.

“As it turned out, we went on to have another brilliant run in the FA Cup that season which just shows you the fine line there is between success and failure in cup football.”

Wanderers, who a year earlier had defeated holders Liverpool, went on to beat Arsenal and Everton in two more memorable White Hot nights before losing to Oldham Athletic in the sixth round.

The Bolton News:

January 6, 2001: Wanderers 2 Yeovil Town 1

Half of Somerset seemed to follow the Glovers to the Reebok a year before they finally gained entry to the Football League. And the travelling contingent watched in shock as Warren Patmore gave them a lead midway through the first half.

John O’Kane scrambled an equaliser just before the break but Yeovil keeper Tony Pennock was proving tough to beat and it wasn’t until Michael Ricketts came off the bench for Dean Holdsworth late in the second half that Sam Allardyce’s side finally added a second.

Wanderers lost in the fifth round that season, beaten comfortably by Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park after a replay.

The Bolton News:

January 8, 2011: Wanderers 2 York City 0

If it wasn’t for Adam Bogdan’s heroics against the Minstermen, Wanderers may have never got to Wembley in 2011.

Roared on by 4,900 travelling fans the Conference club made all the running and Neil Barrett saw one close range effort stopped brilliantly on the line by Bogdan in the second half.

As a replay loomed Kevin Davies stepped up to smash home Martin Petrov’s cross. Johan Elmander quickly added a second to book a fourth round tie with Wigan.

Victories over Fulham and Birmingham followed that… but all traces of the semi-final against Stoke City seem to have been erased from our records!

January 30, 1954: Headington United 2 Wanderers 4

Now known as Oxford United, Headington packed 16,000 fans into their snow covered Manor Ground to welcome a Wanderers side that had reached the previous year’s final.

In conditions that would make a modern day player blush, Nat Lofthouse gave Wanderers the lead, soon doubled from long range by Ray Parry.

Willie Moir made it three but Headington mounted a comeback, putting pressure on Stan Hanson’s goal before finally getting themselves back into the game.

The non-leaguers, then only five years into existence, did get another goal but not before Dennis Stevens had made passage into the fifth round safe with Wanderers’ fourth.

November 14, 1992: Wanderers 2 Sutton Coldfield Town 1

Even the Wanderers fans gave a standing ovation to Beazer Homes League side Sutton as they walked off the pitch at Burnden Park.

As Barry “Crazy Legs” Cowdrill played his former club, the Whites looked to have passage to the second round sorted as Andy Walker made a goal for David Reeves in the first half, before Reeves repaid the favour midway through the second half.

The Midlanders rode their luck, relying heavily on keeper Dale Belford, but a mix-up between Jason Lydiate and Keith Branagan gifted a goal to Andy Dale and set up a grandstand finale.

Royals fans will feel they should have had a replay as a mistake from Mark Winstanley allowed Bob Whittingham to nip in and curl a shot past Branagan for what they thought was the equaliser. The linesman disagreed and the goal was chalked out for offside.

After beating Rochdale in the next round, the White Hot era really kicked off with a memorable triumph against Liverpool at Anfield.

November 17, 1990: Witton Albion 1 Wanderers 2

The Match of the Day cameras were poised for an upset as Phil Neal’s side travelled to Cheshire and they nearly got one.

Floodlights at Wincham Park were a little on the dull side, so the match was brought forward by an hour. And the early start seemed to catch Wanderers on the hop as Karl Thomas raced through the middle of the defence to open the scoring.

Thankfully for the Whites, they quickly recovered their poise and goals from Julian Darby and Paul Comstive booked a place in round two.

After coming out on top of a seven-goal thriller against Chesterfield, Wanderers again took on non-league opposition in the third round.

Tony Philliskirk’s goal was enough to see off Barrow and book a meeting with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

January 4, 1964: Bath City 1 Wanderers 1

Southern League side Bath had already beaten non-league giants Yeovil and Wimbledon to reach round three and proved tough opponents at Twerton Park.

With a quarter of an hour left the home side took the lead through Ken Owens. Wanderers would be heading for relegation from the top flight that season but managed to draw level with just three minutes to go with a goal from Franny Lee.

The replay was won 3-0 in front of 27,000 at Burnden, with Gordon Taylor, Lee and Wyn Davies on the scoresheet. The Whites failed at the second attempt against Preston in the next round.

The Bolton News:

January 9, 2016: Eastleigh 1 Wanderers 1

Kick-off was in doubt right up to the warm-up at the Silverlake Stadium after heavy downpours had made the pitch a boggy nightmare for Neil Lennon’s side.

Dorian Dervite set the nerves jangling when he turned Jai Reason’s cross past his own keeper to give the National League side a lead they held until the 87th minute, when Darren Pratley plundered an equaliser from close range.

More than 1,000 travelling fans went home relieved, if not happy, and there were more problems to come at the Macron as Eastleigh fought to go in at half time at 2-2.

Joe Partington had put the non-league men into the lead 11 minutes in, but soon after Gary Madine and Dean Moxey had got Bolton into the lead Kaid Mohamed grabbed an equaliser in stoppage time.

Once again it was Pratley who came up with the goods when it mattered, adding a winning goal just before the hour mark.

He would score again in the fourth round – but it was not enough to stop Wanderers losing 2-1 against Leeds United in what would be a wretched campaign.

  • FA Cup facts taken from FA Cup 150 by Phil Annets, available on Amazon and all good bookshops now.