John Gorman’s Weekly Preview

A full League programme this Saturday providing the weather is in agreement = and there is probably a big “if” in relation to that statement – and some interesting games in prospect in both Divisions. It is not “crunch” time yet but we are in to the second half of the season, the tables are beginning to take shape and for one or two Clubs points are beginning to look a premium.

Top of the Bill in the Premier Division is the meeting between the unbeaten to date runaway leaders Sholing and third place Portland. The visitors will be looking to bounce back after two successive defeats at home but Sholing on their own ground are a very difficult proposition. Second place Horndean are also at home with Shaftesbury the visitors and whilst “The Deans” will be favourites both they and Shaftesbury will be aware of the latter’s win in midweek. Fourth place Bournemouth face a local derby at Christchurch who are much improved of late whilst strangely, on the day, the next four sides in the table do battle amongst themselves. Baffins Milton Rovers, with perhaps too many draws of late, entertain a Hamworthy side who have won five of their last six while one point separates Bashley and Alresford who meet in the Forest. Both have enjoyed winning runs of late so perhaps something has to give. Two more games in the Forest with Lymington and Brockenhurst both at home. Lymington welcome Hamble Club who, like themselves, probably wish for a little more consistency while “The Badgers host an AFC Portchester side who have slipped down the table of late. Team Solent, still in the relegation area despite recent improved results meet Tadley who are finding goals a little difficult to come by while Bemerton, one place below the Students and having lost their last four matches, travel to Fareham who gained a valuable point in midweek. If Sholng against Portland is the main match the game between Cowes Sports and Andover New Street can claim to run it close as regards the bottom of the table. Cowes have shown some improvement under John McKie’s management while New Street tend to struggle away from home. Three points could mean an awful lot to either side in the long term.

Three of the top four sides in Division One are away from home with two travelling across to the island. Leaders Amesbury go to Newport, whose improved form over recent matches must make them rue their poor start to the season, while AFC Stoneham, who have suffered a little more than most from the recent weather, are at East Cowes Vics with the Beatrice Road side having a good home record of late. Hythe and Dibden take their long unbeaten run to Verwood whose performances are difficult to predict, even probably by themselves, and the only one of the leading four at home are Romsey Town who have a “banana skin” game with visitors New Milton who are still finding points difficult to come by. US Portsmouth, striving to catch the leading quartet, have a game similar to Romsey in that on paper, unbeaten in their last six matches, they should be too strong at home for a struggling Totton and Eling side. Downton, whose midweek result took them in to sixth place and was their third win in a row, journey to Alton who have lost their last three while just two points separate Ringwood and Fawley in the table. The two sides meet at the former’s ground with Ringwood’s recent winning run halted by Downton in midweek. Laverstock and Ford and Whitchurch clash for the second time in as many weeks with Whitchurch having won the first encounter at Longmeadow and followed that by winning at Fawley and the Division is completed by Follands visit to bottom Club Andover Town. The Hamble side have enjoyed something of a renaissance this season after a barren spell but still occasionally struggle on their travels.

We have to hope that all the games will be played!