John Gorman’s Weekly Preview

The last Saturday of the Year and a full programme in the Premier Division but a slightly reduced number of games in Division One.

The latter starts with a fixture on Friday evening when Follands, who have been steadily collecting points at home of late, entertain a Downton side whose defeat at home to Romsey last week ended a winning run that they will be keen to commence again. Staying with the Division none of the four leading sides are in action so a chance for US Portsmouth, who have games in hand on all the sides above them in the table, to narrow the gap. They make the short journey up the A3 to face a Petersfield side that has slipped down the table in recent weeks with only one win in their last twelve matches. New Milton, who lost at home last week following two welcome victories, journey to Laverstock and Ford who are probably not as high in the table as they would wish but give little away on their own ground. The remaining three fixtures fall in to the local derby category with Totton and Eling, who gained a welcome point last week after a run of defeats, journeying down the A326 to Fawley who have won wo of their last four games. Verwood, still in seventh place despite a disappointing run of results, entertain a Ringwood side greatly in need of a change of fortune and points but the main game of the day in the Division, if not in the League, is at Whippingham where East Cowes Vics face Newport. This is the first time the two Clubs have met in a League fixture at Beatrice Avenue since 1989/90 when the visitors scored the only goal in a game that even the long serving Darren Dyer may find difficulty in recalling. In the meeting between the two Clubs at St. Georges Park earlier in the season it finished all square so all to play for – especially local bragging rights. Hopefully there will be a good attendance.

On to the Premier Division, taking a back seat for a change, and regardless of Saturday’s result Sholing will top the table as 2018 becomes 2019 as they put their unbeaten record on the line at home to last season’s Division One Champions Christchurch, who have taken time to adapt to the higher level. Second place Portland have their shortest journey of the season as they venture along the coast to Hamworthy where their long unbeaten run will be tested by a home side who have improved of late and have an FA Vase tie on the horizon. Horndean, who suffered a home defeat by Hamworthy last time out, will not have an easy afternoon at Hamble Club while Bournemouth, who have won four of their last six, entertain a Team Solent side who scored five away from home last week – and still lost. AFC Portchester, still on the fringe of the promotion race, host Alresford who have won three of their last four while Baffins Milton Rovers – three wins in five – cross the Solent to meet a Cowes side looking to add to their win last Saturday, their first in five matches. One of the local derbies takes place at Brockenhurst where Lymington are the visitors. The latter have shown the better form of late but local derbies often make no allowance for form or past results. Fareham. with just one win in nine, welcome Bashley to Cams Alders with the Forest side having won their last three and scored six last time out. At the lower end of the table Shaftesbury, who have slipped to eighteenth place after a poor run, face Tadley Calleva who have won three of their last five and added a couple of shrewd signings to their ranks while Andover New Street make the short trip to Bemerton Heath. The home side’s recent run that had taken them up the table was halted last week by Alresford while New Street, to put it simply – and easier said than done – badly need points.

On the corresponding Saturday last year there were seven games in the Premier Division and three in Division One which collectively produced forty two goals – an average of over four a game.

More of the same will be welcome.