John Gorman’s Weekly Preview

The FA Vase is back on the agenda this week with eleven ties involving Clubs from the Sydenhams Football League (Wessex). The draw in the Vase is seemingly not so strictly regionalised as the FA Cup so there are only two all-Wessex ties but the downside is that there are one or two lengthy journeys. In the two ties mentioned Bashley entertain Baffins Milton Rovers – the Forest side won the League encounter earlier in the season – whilst Hamworthy United travel to Shaftesbury. Two games difficult to call. The South Peninsula league provide the opposition in three ties. AFC Stoneham travel to eighth place Bodmin Town while Sholing make the long haul to Torpoint Athletic who are sixteenth in the table. Bournemouth are home to mid table Newquay and given the geographical location of their visitors will surely be anxious to avoid a replay. Slightly nearer home the Western League will welcome two of our Clubs. Totton and Eling journey to the Tourist world of Cheddar, currently flying high in the Premier Division, while Brockenhurst go to Bristol based Longwell Green Sports who defeated Team Solent at Test Park in an earlier round. Alresford meet Hellenic League Abingdon United at Arlebury and should be too strong for the visitors who did however defeat Alton in the last round. The remaining three ties involve opposition largely to the east of our area. Horndean go to Combined Counties Club Eversley and California who are frequent opponents for Wessex League Clubs in numerous Cup Competitions, but are a level below the “Deans”, and another Combined Counties Club, Badshot Lea, who groundshare at Camberley Town are at the Portway against Andover Town. Lastly Fareham Town face a trip largely in to the unknown when they visit AFC Croydon Athletic who are at present seventh in the Southern Counties East Premier which is on the same level as our own Premier Division.

The Vase has reduced the Premier League programme to just three fixtures with none of the top Clubs involved. Lymington, after two defeats, will be looking to get back on track against Team Solent who badly need an upturn in fortunes while Christchurch welcome Hamble Club to Hurn Bridge, two sides yet to find their true form. Andover New Street, who finally broke the duck last Saturday, will be looking for win number two when Cowes come to Foxcotte Park, with the Islanders, apart from one evening at Cams Alders, not faring too well on the road.

In Division One Hythe and Dibden, who retained their place at the top of the table by beating Downton in midweek, meet Laverstock and Ford at Claypits with the Wiltshire side always doughty opposition while Amesbuty, still only one defeat, cross the Solent to East Cowes Vics who collected a very impressive point at Stoneham on Tuesday. US Portsmouth, with three straight wins behind them, will be looking to make it four when Fawley AFC, in need of points, travel to Burnaby Road and there should be a close encounter at Romsey where the home side meet Verwood with the Clubs at present fifth and sixth in the table. Alton, with three wins and sixteen goals in their last three matches, make the cross country trip to Downton, who conceded five in midweek, while Whitchurch go to Petersfield for the first time for a number of seasons with both sides looking to end small losing runs. Newport, who climbed five places in the table after their Wednesday night victory at Fawley, entertain Ringwood who still have only one win to their name, and in the final game Follands, after a win last Saturday and a heavy defeat on Tuesday, host New Milton who have lost their last four.

Two Cup games to complete the day. In the League Cup Tadley meet Portland at Barlows Park seven days after the two sides shared the points in a League encounter at the Grove, and Bemerton face Wiltshire League opposition in the Wiltshire Senior Cup with a visit to Purton which is not a million miles from Royal Wootton Bassett.

Good luck to all our teams in the Vase.