John Gorman’s Weekly Preview

 

One League Cup tie this week and a virtually full League programme as we take our second step in to 2019 and embark on the second half of the season.

The League Cup tie is the second staging of the First Round fixture between AFC Stoneham and Hamworthy United, The first game was halted by a floodlight failure and attempts to re-schedule same have been hampered by the weather and Hamworthy’s progress in the FA Vase. The home side regained top spot in Division One last week when Hamworthy’s FA Vase run was ended and also held Sholing to a single goal in midweek in the Russell Cotes Cup so it should be a good contest with the winners travelling to Downton in Round Two.

Sholing still move remorselessly on in League and Vase and travel to Lymington who have won three of their last five while second place Portland make their longest of many long journeys for the season when they go to Tadley. The home side have lost their last two but Barlows Park is never an easy place to get a result and the Dorset side’s long unbeaten run could be at risk. Probably the game of the day in the Premier Division is at Five Heads Park where third place Horndean entertain fifth place AFC Portchester with the added attraction of it being a local derby. It will be three very hard won points for the winners should there be a positive outcome. One point and one place in the table separate Baffins Milton Rovers and Alresford with the latter having won four of their last five. Baffins in turn will be looking to put their Vase defeat behind them in what is bound to be a well contested ninety minutes, Bashley who have climbed the table on the strength of four wins in their last five matches, host near neighbours Christchurch with the visitors still looking for points on the fringe of the relegation area. Bemerton, having won four of their last five, have moved to relative safety and are level on points with visitors Fareham whose recent lack of results has seen them drop down the table. Shaftesbury, with just one win in eight, have fallen into the bottom four and will be looking to improve matters when Brockenhurst, only two points above them, travel to Dorset. Cowes are similarly badly in need of points when free scoring Bournemouth visit Westwood Park while the final game is a real six pointer as the bottom two meet at Charlton. Andover New Street have suffered five defeats in five matches whilst Team Solent, one place above them, came from behind to get three valuable points last Saturday. With five points separating the two the home side cannot really afford another loss.

Given their League Cup involvement AFC Stoneham could well lose their top spot in Division One with their three nearest challengers all playing at home. Amesbury face bottom Club Andover Town from a few miles down the A303 and to use a well worn cliché it could be the proverbial banana skin. Andover put up a very creditable performance at Stoneham last week and will be looking to build on same. Third place Hythe and Dibden will put their long unbeaten run on the line with sixth place Alton the visitors though the North Hampshire side still tend to struggle occasionally on the road. The fourth of the leading quartet, Romsey Town, welcome Fawley AFC to the Bypass Ground knowing they will be doughty opponents. US Portsmouth, still with games in hand on those above them, meet the much improved Follands at Burnaby Road, though like Alton, the visitors are much happier at home. Newport, who are unbeaten in four and scored eight last weekend, entertain Verwood who have not won in five while Petersfield will be looking to follow up last week’s win and Tuesday’s performance at Premier Division Christchurch when they make the cross country trip to the unpredictable Laverstock and Ford. In the lower reaches of the table New Milton still cannot turn their often attractive football in to results and face a Downton side playing well of late whilst Ringwood, who have greatly improved their position with three straight wins, meet a Whitchurch side no doubt still smarting from conceding eight last time out. Finally Totton and Eling, who are now just one place off the bottom after an awful run of results, will welcome East Cowes Vics, another side apt to find difficult away from home, but who took a point off Hythe and Dibden last week.

And importantly the weather looks set fair,