John Gorman’s Weekly Preview

 With no FA Vase distractions – though three victories last week were very welcome – we are back to the League this Saturday and the probability that some, if not most, of what follows will be rendered meaningless by the weather.

A full Programme in the Premier Division and the latest Club to challenge leaders Sholing’s one hundred per cent record will be Fareham Town on their visit to the Universal Stadium. The “Creeksiders” have taken five points from their last nine but consistency is not their strongest point. Second place Portland United, unbeaten in nine with seven victories, welcome Christchurch to The Grove with the visitors slowly beginning to climb the table while Horndean, in third place, who have perhaps suffered as much as any from the weather of late, cross the Solent to Cowes who themselves are in need of points. AFC Portchester, with three wins in their last five head the pursuing pack and face a visit from Tadley whose game last week was called off under slightly contentious circumstances. Two sides who enjoyed success in the Vase, Baffins Milton Rovers and Hamworthy United, meet in Portsmouth while Hamble Club will have to put their FA Vase disappointment behind them when they cross Southampton to meet the rapidly improving Team Solent. Old rivals Brockenhurst and Bashley, both of whom have been out of the points recently, clash at the home of the “Badgers”, and two more sides in a similar position, Alresford and Shaftesbury, meet at Arlebury Park where the points would be greatly welcomed by either side. At the bottom of the table Team Solent have already been mentioned and Bemerton Heath, with six points from their last nine, welcome Lymington, who suffered with Tadley last week, to Western Way. The final game in the Division is possibly the first ever League meeting at Victoria Park between Bournemouth and Andover New Street. The visitors often look a better side than their League position implies but Bournemouth do seem to know how to score goals.

AFC Stoneham’s defeat of Romsey Town in midweek has greatly tightened things at the top of the Division One table with Amesbury Town leading Stoneham and Hythe and Dibden by two points, both the latter Clubs having played a game less. Amesbury, currently enjoying a run of eight straight wins, welcome Petersfield Town, who do not always travel well, to Wiltshire and Stoneham head up the A34 to Whitchurch who acquitted themselves very well in the reverse fixture a couple of weeks ago. Hythe and Dibden are on home soil with Totton and Eling making the short trip to Clayfields on the back of six straight defeats. Two Clubs on level points, Verwood and Alton, meet at Potterne Park with the home side hopefully having put their midweek problems behind them and the recently free scoring Downton entertain East Cowes Vics who will be looking to build on last week’s victory. The remaining games in some way affect either the top or bottom of the table or both starting with Ringwood’s trip to Fawley. Both have only one win in their last four matches and will be seeking improvement. Follands – in between the previous two as far as the table is concerned – will be hoping their reasonable home form will gain them something from the visit of Newport, who should surely be higher in the table, and New Milton, who ended a long losing run with a well deserved win at Alton a week, ago test their no doubt new found resolve with the visit of fifth place US Portsmouth. That just leaves bottom placed Andover Town who will not be relishing their trip to Romsey despite the latter’s defeat in midweek. Andover have already visited the Bypass Ground twice in Cup Competitions this season and conceded five on both occasions. Third time lucky?

One game outside the League Programme with Laverstock anf Ford travelling to Cricklade Town for a 2.00 kick off in the Wiltshire Senior Cup. Their hosts are sixth in the Wiltshire Senior League while Cricklade itself is between Swindon and Cirencester.

One can but hope the rain gods are inactive this week but sadly the forecast suggests otherwise.