John Gorman’s Weekend Preview

It is FA Cup week again and congratulations to the seven Sydenhams Wessex League Clubs who have reached the First Qualifying Round where the standard of the opposition tends to be stronger than in the two previous rounds. There is one all-Wessex tie, which on one hand is disappointing but on the other hand ensures League representation in the next round, and that is at Sholing where Hamworthy United are the visitors. Sholing have been largely carrying all before them so far this season but the Dorset side will provide a stern test. In Division One AFC Stoneham have a record to date that matches Sholing but they face a step up in opposition with the visit of Cirencester Town who are fifth in the Southern League South One, the same level as the likes of Winchester and AFC Totton. Lymington, on paper, probably have the easiest tie of the Wessex Clubs with the visit of Hellenic League Lydney Town but in reality there are no easy ties and the Gloucestershire side will perhaps be looking at things in the same light. Bemerton, after their superb midweek win over FA Vase holders Thatcham Town, now head west to Taunton who are one level again above the already mentioned Cirencester. The draw has also not been unduly kind to the remaining Clubs though Shaftesbury, after lengthy away trips in the previous rounds, at least have a home tie. The visit of Poole Town should attract a healthy attendance at Coppice Street for what is probably the biggest game in the Town for many years. Lastly Horndean not only have higher opposition but face a 250 mile round trip to the Eastern tip of Kent and Margate who are currently mid table in the Ryman or Isthmian League Premier Division.
The Cup reduces the Premier Division to just five matches with the pick of them probably at Bashley where Baffins Milton Rovers are the visitors. The New Forest side are fourth in the albeit fledgling table but achieved a superb result in the Vase last week whilst their Portsmouth based visitors continue to gather plaudits for their football. Two sides with just one League win apiece, Alresford and Fareham, meet at Arlebury with both having recorded good Vase results seven days previously and Cowes will be hoping to continue their impressive start to the season when Portland make the long journey to the Island and Westwood Park. Two of last season’s promoted sides, Tadley Calleva and Christchurch, meet at Barlows Park with the Clubs having suffered different fortunes thus far. Tadley have nine points from twelve while Christchurch are finding it harder to adapt to the higher level with four defeats to date. The final game sees a meeting between two sides who will not look back kindly on last Saturday. AFC Portchester departed the Vase at the first stage after an astonishing six goal defeat at Bashley whilst Andover New Street lost their goalkeeper to serious injury when going down five nil at Horndean in the league.
Seven games in Division One and Verwood will be looking to maintain first place when they visit Amesbury for what could be an interesting encounter. It will be a difficult afternoon for all at Downton where the home side, trying to recover from the sudden passing of Club Stalwart Ian Drinkwater, face a Whitchurch side who have won their last three in the League. Fawley and Petersfield meet on the Waterside with the home side having scored five last time out whilst their visitors conceded five in midweek. Two Clubs just two places apart in the League meet when Romsey travel to New Milton whilst Ringwood and Totton and Eling are separated by just one point and meet at Long Lane. Both Andover Town and Follands are still seeking their first points and both have potentially difficult matches. Andover, who have scored seven goals in their last two games and lost them both, entertain relegated Newport while Follands travel to Hythe and Dibden to meet the Division’s highest scorers. Two games in the League Cup complete the day with Alton crossing the Solent to meet East Cowes Vics ,who are unbeaten at home to date, whilst US Portsmouth travel to the free scoring Laverstock and Ford for an interesting looking tie.
Good luck to all especially those involved in the FA Cup.