Sunday's FA Cup opponents Cray Valley Paper Mills (CVPM) will arrive at The Valley having made a seventeen game unbeaten start to the season in the Isthmian League (South East), the FA Trophy and the FA Cup.
The Isthmian League (South East) is two levels below The Nationwide League South in which Welling and Dartford compete. Such has been CVPM's cup success that they have only played five league games so far and are sitting in tenth place with eleven points. They have five games in hand on the top two so even a couple of wins in those games would elevate them to second place, although Ramsgate (fifteen points from six games) might have a thing or two to say about that.
To reach this stage of the FA Cup they have played eight games - seeing off Lordswood, Northwood, Uxbridge, Carshalton and Enfield Town to earn the dream tie at The Valley. It hasn't been plain sailing - they needed replays against Lordswood, Northwood and Carshalton and, in their 5-2 victory over Enfield they had to come from 0-1 and 1-2 down.
Many eyes on Sunday will be on Kyrell Lisbie but not just because of the family connection. He has scored thirteen goals in seventeen games since signing from Welling this summer. It is his second spell with the club as he joined them in 2020 as a sixteen year old and came on as a substitute for his father on two occasions. He isn't The Millers' only goal threat. Freddie Parker who joined this summer (previously Sevenoaks Town) has ten goals already alongside Adam Coombes with nine.
This isn't CVPM's first appearance in the FA Cup First Round Proper. In 2020 a 3-2 victory at National League side Maidenhead United in the Fourth Round Qualifying saw them drawn away to Havant & Waterlooville where they were narrowly beaten 1-0. Their other great recent achievement was reaching the final of the FA Vase in 2017. With Kevin Lisbie in the team they took Chertsey Town to extra time before succumbing 1-3 in front of a crowd of 42,000.
For a full history of the club:
It will be interesting to see who Michael Appleton selects for this fixture. We assume that a number of regular starters will be getting a rest or sitting on the bench and only used if needed. Our under 18s did beat CPVM 3-2 in a pre season friendly and, while we don't draw too many conclusions from friendlies, a Charlton team with a few fringe players should not really have too many problems seeing off a club playing five levels below them.