John Gorman’s Weekly Preview

After one Division One fixture on Friday evening the FA Vase gets the ball rolling (or floating perhaps given the weather) this week with three ties involving Sydenhams League Clubs. Unfortunately, as usual, there is a tie where two of our Clubs face each other with Hamworthy United travelling to Hamble Club. Neither side has recaptured last season’s form on a regular basis but the home side will fondly recall the progress made in the Competition last season. Baffins Milton Rovers face a possibly difficult task with a trip to Bradford on Avon to meet Bradford Town, currently eighth in the Western League Premier Division and a side with a good Cup pedigree. Bradford on Avon is virtually on the outskirts of Trowbridge and a win for Baffins is certainly not out of the question. The third tie sees Sholing at home to Pagham who are always there or thereabouts in the Southern Combination ( formerly the Sussex League) They are currently fourth in the table but adrift of the leaders and home advantage should serve Sholing well on the day.

With Sholing otherwise engaged a chance for those behind them in the League to narrow the gap. Second place Portland, who are unbeaten in their last nine matches of which seven have been won, travel to Fareham who have drawn their last two while Horndean will be looking to put last week’s defeat behind them when they welcome free scoring Bournemouth to Five Heads Park. Not an easy afternoon for either side. AFC Portchester, with three wins in the last four, travel to Bashley who have not won in five while there should be an interesting game at Tadley. Both sides have bounced back recently from poor results and will be looking to continue in the same vein. Shaftesbury and Brockenhurst are separated in the table by just one point and have not enjoyed the best of fortune of late and the same could be said of Christchurch and Cowes who meet at Hurn Bridge. Again there is one point between the two with both Clubs lower in the table than they would wish. So to the three teams at the bottom with Bemerton Heath, currently in last place, travelling to Alresford, whose victory last week was their first in four games. The remaining two Clubs, Andover New Street and Team Solent, meet at Charlton in what the Press would call a “six pointer” with the visitors having gained a very good three points a week ago.

The Friday night game sees Follands, who have lost five of their last six, entertain Whitchurch who have just one win in seven so three points would go down well for either side. Elsewhere in the Division on Saturday Stoneham, unbeaten and in third place, travel to US Portsmouth in what is probably the top match in the Division. Points are hard to take away from Burnaby Road and it should be a good ninety minutes. Leaders Amesbury, looking to return to the Premier Division at the first time of asking, travel to another of last season’s relegated Clubs, Newport, who tend to blow hot and cold, while second place Hythe and Dibden welcome near neighbours Fawley to Clayfields, Based on the table positions it should be a home win but it is the most local of local derbies. Romsey have the Saturday off and sixth place Verwood entertain a Downton side running in to form and who scored five goals on their travels last Saturday. The remaining games largely involve Clubs in need of points at the wrong end of the table. East Cowes Vics, who have lost their last four, face Ringwood, one place behind them, at Beatrice Avenue while Totton and Eling, who have dropped to seventeenth place, welcome the inconsistent Laverstock and Ford to Millers Park. New Milton could face a difficult afternoon at Alton who give little away on their own ground, while bottom placed Andover Town cross to Petersfield who have just one win in their last nine games.

There will be winners and losers in the above but sadly it is likely the biggest winner will be the weather.