Weekend Preview – Saturday 02/12/17

The first Saturday in December and the FA Vase is on the menu with eight of our Clubs still involved. Unfortunately six of them have been drawn together in three ties – though that does ensure three in the next round – with only two facing “foreign” opposition. Taking the all-Wessex ties first there should be a big crowd at Sholing where Blackfield and Langley are the visitors in a tie that pitches the second and third placed teams in the Premier Division and which is really too difficult to call. Two sides who have not enjoyed the best of results of late, Hamble Club and Horndean, meet at the Hamble Community Centre where one goal either way could determine the outcome whilst there is a Division One versus Premier Division clash at Hurn Bridge. Christchurch are second in the League and have won ten of their last eleven games whilst visitors Newport (IOW) are in the bottom three in the Premier Division, but their results in Cup Competitions this season have been of the highest order so it could be another tight affair. The remaining two teams involved, Team Solent and Baffins Milton Rovers, both have to travel. Team Solent head for Wiltshire and Bradford on Avon, near Trowbridge, where Bradford Town currently lie third in the Western League Premier Division with 34 points from 15 games. Baffins Milton Rovers head in totally the opposite direction to Horley which is on the Surrey/West Sussex border and just four miles from Gatwick Airport. The local side are sixth in the Combined Counties League with 31 points from 19 matches.

The top game in the Premier Division is at the Portway where runaway leaders Andover Town face Hamworthy United who have re-discovered their early season form of late, though they will have to put the midweek result in the Dorset Senior Cup out of their minds. With the fixtures truncated by the Vase the next highest Club position wise in the League in action are Lymington Town who, in sixth place, are on the edge of the promotion race. They make the relatively short journey to Bashley who have won their last three matches and reached the Final of the Bournemouth Senior Cup. AFC Portchester, who have won four of the last five, make possibly their first ever League visit to Shaftesbury who have taken just two points from the last twelve. The rapidly improving Bemerton Heath Harlequins who are unbeaten in their last six cross the Solent to meet a Cowes Sports side who do not always get the results their form deserves whilst two sides with identical recent records – one win in six – Fareham Town and Alresford Town meet at Cams Alders. Lastly two games that affect the bottom of the table. Amesbury Town will be looking to build on last week’s win when the sometimes inconsistent Portland United come visiting whilst bottom of the table Petersfield Town entertain Bournemouth. The home side have lost their last seven whilst Bournemouth’s wins seem to come in groups – and they have lost their last three!

Neither leaders Andover New Street or second place Christchurch are in Division One action so a chance for those in pursuit to close the gap. Third place Romsey Town, who have won four of their last five, entertain bottom Club Folland Sports who have lost their last five whilst there is a good game in prospect at AFC Stoneham. Five wins in six have taken the home side to fifth in the table, one place behind visitors Tadley Calleva, whose form has suffered a little wobble of late. Laverstock and Ford, in sixth place but without a win in five, entertain a Whitchurch United side that has moved clear of the “relegation zone”. New Milton Town, who have steadily climbed the table in recent weeks travel to Downton whilst Ringwood Town, who rediscovered their shooting boots last week, host Totton and Eling who have lost their last four games. East Cowes Victoria, enjoying a run of form that has seen them unbeaten in their last five games welcome Fawley AFC to Beatrice Avenue and three points will be eagerly sought in the remaining game when Verwood Town meet Hythe and Dibden  – with both sides only having won twice in their last eleven matches.

Three sides guaranteed a place in the next round of the Vase – five would be nice!