John Gorman’s weekend preview – November 3rd

The weekend starts on Friday this week as we move in to November with a Division One fixture at Amesbury where Downton are the visitors. Amesbury are in second place in the table with just one defeat to their name so far whilst Downton’s form is a little up and down – they conceded six at Stoneham last week – but this almost ranks as a local derby and upsets are not unknown in such matches.

November also brings with it the Second Round of the FA Vase with nine of our Clubs still in contention and with one tie featuring two Sydenhams League Clubs we are assured od representation in Round Three – though we hope there will be more than one club carrying the league banner forward. The all Wessex Tie sees Baffins Milton Rovers hosting Bournemouth and with both sides enjoying good seasons to date it is a very difficult game to call. In the other seven ties the League has four Clubs drawn at home and three away and we will start with those playing on home soil.

Brockenhurst, who ended a losing run in the League in midweek, face Western League Bradford Town who are fifth in the Premier Division and have a good Vase pedigree while Hamworthy United will welcome Falmouth Town to the County Ground. The Hammers have not found last season’s form this time round whilst their Cornish opponents, who face a hefty journey, are second in the South West Peninsula League. The Western League provide the opposition for Newport as Cribbs, who are based close to the M5 near Bristol, make the long trip to the Island. Newport seemingly always find the Vase to their liking and should hopefully progress. Lastly Sholing, carrying all before them in the League, meet Malmesbury Victoria who were moved from the Western league to the Hellenic League in the FA’s close season re-shuffle and, playing in Division One West, are one level below their hosts.

Of the three Clubs playing away Horndean probably have the shortest journey but the hardest task as they head for Chertsey who currently top the Combined Counties Premier Division and defeated Tadley in an earlier round. But the Deans are currently Sholing’s nearest challengers in the League and won at near rivals AFC Portchester in midweek. Hamble Club, who had such a good run in the Competition last season – the first time they had entered – go to Almondsbury which is adjacent to the M4/M5 junction. Like Malmesbury they are in the Hellenic league Division One West so a level below their opponents. Alresford drew the short straw as far as travel is concerned with a trip to Bodmin Town, another Club from the South West Peninsula League. They defeated AFC Stoneham in the last Round and have a good Cup record on their own Ground but Alresford have shown signs of finding their goalscoring touch in recent games.

With the Premier Division fixtures reduced in number because of the Vase a chance for AFC Portchester and Portland to improve their placings in the top six. Portchester will be looking to get back to winning ways, having lost their last two, against a Bemerton side struggling near the bottom of the table while Andover New Street, one off the bottom and a good win in midweek under their belts, travel to Portland who have scored six in both their last two matches. Shaftesbury, a good result at Hamworthy on Tuesday, entertain a Fareham side in need of a change of fortune and that description certainly also applies to Lymington Town. The New Forest Club have lost their last six and entertain a Tadley side who will be smarting from their home defeat in midweek. Bashley will hope to have resolved apparent defensive frailties – they have conceded six in each of their last two matches – when Cowes Sports, in need of a win themselves, come calling and Christchurch will seek to build on four points from their last six when Team Solent – unlucky in some eyes not to get something against Sholing on Monday – visit Hurn Bridge.

With second placed Amesbury playing on Friday there are eight Division One fixtures on Saturday and Hythe and Dibden and AFC Stoneham, first and third in the table respectively, are both away from home. Hythe make the short trip to Fawley AFC for one of the most local of local derbies, while Stoneham head down the A31 to Verwood. Despite their respective league positions Hythe will face a tough afternoon while Stoneham meet a Verwood side that has blown hot and cold all season. Romsey, with fourteen goals to their credit in their last two matches, entertain Laverstock and Ford who ran Amesbury close last week, while US Portsmouth, who have won four in their last five, host New Milton who need to halt a losing run that has seen them drop down the table.

East Cowes Vics after two wins on home soil cross to Follands and two Clubs separated by a point, Whitchurch and Petersfield, meet at Long Meadow with both overdue a win. Alton, with only one loss in six, will welcome Totton and Eling who conceded five in midweek and after three straight defeats have dropped to fifteenth spot. Finally another crunch match at the lower end of the table with Andover Town, who climbed off the bottom last week, travelling to Ringwood, who now occupy last place. Andover with three wins in succession seem to have found a more settled line-up while their hosts desperately need a win after a string of poor results. All to play for there.

Good luck to all our Clubs in the Vase.