John Gorman’s Weekend Preview

The Second Qualifying Round of the FA Vase dominates this week’s fixtures with sixteen ties featuring Clubs from the Sydenhams Football League (Wessex) that can be split in to four “groups” – all Wessex ties, Western League opposition, Hellenic League opposition and Combined Counties League opposition. In the first category there are six games – thankfully not as many as in the FA Cup – with something of a local derby leading the way as Christchurch travel to Bournemouth Poppies. The latter have made the better start to the season but Cup matches can be great levellers. A few miles down the road Hamworthy United, who were knocked out of the FA Cup in midweek, entertain First Division Fawley AFC and still geographically in that part of the World Verwood will welcome Alresford to Potterne Park with both the Division One sides looking to advance and cause an upset. In an all Premier Division clash Andover New Street travel to Shaftesbury with the Dorset Club having won the League meeting between the two Clubs last month and there is an all First Division tie at Millers Park. Totton and Eling have made a slow start to the season but visitors East Cowes Vics are better at home so it is anyone’s game. The final all Wessex tie sees US Portsmouth entertain Brockenhurst and it could well be a difficult afternoon for the Premier Division side. Four ties involving the Hellenic League – two home and two away. AFC Stoneham host Binfield from near Wokingham, who Horndean defeated in the FA Cup, while Baffins Milton Rovers will surely start favourites against New College Swindon who have lost all four games to date in the Hellenic League Division One West. The two Clubs on the road are Bashley and Alton. Bashley, enjoying a successful season, go to Premier Division Royal Wootton Bassett while Alton have a shorter journey to Abingdon United. Royal Wootton Bassett are Premier Division mid-table while Abingdon United, a Southern League side not too many years ago, currently top Division One East. Four matches also – less than usual – against Western League Clubs with home advantage to three of our sides. The only one forced to travel are Bemerton Heath Harlequins who go to Almondsbury to meet Roman Glass St. George who won at Stockbridge in the last round. Fareham entertain Division One side Corsham Town, one nil winners over Laverstock and Ford in the last round, while Westbury who won at Cowes a fortnight ago now travel to Petersfield. The fourth Western League side involved, and only Corsham play in Division One, is Bristol based Cadbury Heath who will be heading to New Milton. Matches against Western League sides are always close affairs and it would be difficult to predict those who will feature in next Monday’s draw. Finally two games against sides from the Combined Counties League and Tadley look to have a tough task with the visit of Chertsey Town to Barlows Park as their visitors have a one hundred per cent record to date in the Premier Division. Lymington become the third Wessex League side to meet Eversley and California in Cup Competitions so far this season with Andover New Street being successful and Downton losing by a single goal. Lymington will be away from home but their hosts play at the next level down and Lymington should add a Vase win to their FA Cup triumphs to date this season.
These ties obviously greatly reduce the number of League fixtures and there is only one in the Premier Division. AFC Portchester, who found their shooting boots with a vengeance last week entertain Cowes with just one point separating the two sides in the table. Four games in Division One with Andover Town hosting Amesbury who have won their last four League matches. Andover’s fortunes have to change at some stage but this Saturday could be another difficult afternoon. Follands, in a similar position to Andover, are at home to Ringwood who have just one win to date while Romsey and Downton, just two points apart, meet at the Bypass Ground. The best of the four games could well be at Laverstock and Ford where the high scoring home side meet the equally high scoring Hythe and Dibden who have made such an impressive start to the season. Three League Cup matches complete the day with Division One sides Newport and Whitchurch meeting in a First Round clash while Second Round ties see Hamble Club travel to Horndean and Portland head up the A31 to Team Solent.
Football for everybody – or nearly everybody – on the day.