Football Management & Technology

Saturday’s Match Preview – The Southern League


Date: Fri 14 Oct 2022

By Steve Whitney

Whilst there will be a lot of attention on the Fourth Qualifying Round of the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday, there are a number of important games in the Pitching In Southern Football League this weekend.

In the Premier Division Central, Leiston have the opportunity to move into third place when they travel to the Victoria Ground to take on Bromsgrove Sporting.

The Suffolk side went fourth after a good 3-0 win at Top Field against Hitchin Town on Monday night, while the Rouslers were beaten 1-0 at home by league leaders Tamworth 24 hours later.

Redditch United could also go third as they head to Hayden Road to take on second-from-bottom AFC Rushden & Diamonds.

Diamonds, who could have a new manager in place in time for Saturday’s kick-off, are playing their third successive home game and will be buoyed by Tuesday’s second win of the season against second-placed Nuneaton Borough.

They have lost one of their interim managers, Chris Willmott, who has left the club in the wake of Andy Burgess`s departure, leaving under-23 boss Richard Maxwell in charge.

Matt Clarke’s Reds are enjoying their best start to a campaign for some time and head to Rushden in fifth spot after sharing a 2-2 draw at third-placed Coalville Town on Tuesday.

Hednesford Town returned to the foot of the table after Diamonds` win and their 1-0 defeat at Basford United on the same evening, and Steve Burr’s side travel to an out-of-sorts Hitchin side on Saturday.

The Canaries, playing at home for the fourth time in a row, drew against St Ives Town on Monday, September 26th but before and since have lost five games all by a 3-0 scoreline!

Third-from-bottom Barwell, who have won just once in their last six league and cup matches, welcome Mickleover to the UK FLOORING DIRECT Stadium, with the visitors having lost their last two.

Stourbridge are fourth-from-bottom but have won their last two games, whilst visitors to the War Memorial Athletic Ground on Saturday, Stratford Town, have drawn one and lost four of their last five in league and cup.

Ilkeston Town are another team in need of points under new joint bosses Jamie Ward and Ben Turner as they head south to Garden Walk to take on Royston Town.

The Robins have lost their last three, including Tuesday’s game at Rushall Olympic when, at the same time, Steve Castle’s Crows were edging out Kings Langley 1-0 to move into 11th place in the table.

Rushall will look to move into the top five when they have another game at Dales Lane against a Bedford Town side who have dropped down the standings after seven league and cup games without a victory.

In the Premier Division South on Saturday, the top two are not in league action, so third-placed Chesham United and fourth-placed Hanwell Town, level on 20 points, have the chance to narrow the seven-point gap between them and leaders Weston-super-Mare.

Chesham head south to take on a Winchester City side who won through in the Isuzu FA Trophy last weekend and then neat Hartley Wintney on Tuesday night – that being just their second league win since coming up at the end of last season.

Chesham suffered a blow on Tuesday when they were beaten 2-1 at Harrow Borough – their first league defeat since August 16th.

Hanwell welcome a Gosport Borough side who are currently 11th in the table.

The Geordies edged a best-of-five-goal win at The Powerday Stadium against Hayes & Yeading United bon Tuesday, following up their Trophy success against Isthmian League Premier Division side Cray Wanderers last weekend.

For Gosport, Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat at Metropolitan Police was their third in a row and they have only won one in their previous eight in league and cup.

It will be a strange feeling in the away dressing room at Eynsham Park as the visiting Salisbury side will not have Steve Claridge at the helm for the first time since 2014 after his shock departure on Thursday, despite winning 4-2 at Tiverton Town 24 hours earlier.

Indeed, the Whites make their first visit to the Oxfordshire village in fifth spot, while the Millers are 18th after losing 2-0 at home to Merthyr Town on Tuesday night.

Poole Town will look to break into the top five when they welcome struggling Hartley Wintney to the BlackGold Stadium.

The sixth-placed Dolphins were held to a 2-2 midweek draw at home by Bracknell Town, while The Row were losing 2-1 at Winchester City on the same night – their third successive league defeat – having only recorded one win to date.

Plymouth Parkway have also only one league win to their name and sunk back to the foot of the table after Tuesday’s 4-0 drubbing at fellow strugglers Yate Town, for whom it was a first win since the opening day of the campaign.

Lee Hobbs` side seem to be reserving their best form for the cups and have a First Round Isuzu Trophy tie against Bristol Manor Farm to look forward to but need points in the league if they are to maintain their Step 3 status, starting with their visit to Harrow on Saturday.

Yate will look to back up that morale-boosting victory when they welcome Beaconsfield Town to the South West Interiors Stadium.

The Rams are currently 15th in the table and enjoyed a `double` over Hartley Wintney in both league and Trophy in their last two games.

Hayes & Yeading, last season’s play-off finalists, have struggled to find that sort of form this term to date and head south to the Avenue Stadium to take on Dorchester Town in 12th spot after that defeat at neighbours Hanwell in midweek.

The Magpies lost to second-placed Weston on the same evening and have won just one of their last seven games and are currently ninth, just a point in front of Paul Hughes` side.

Tiverton Town have Swindon Supermarine travelling down the M5 – both having lost in midweek.

Scott Rogers` side were beaten at the Ian Moorcroft Stadium by Salisbury in Steve Claridge’s last game in charge, while `Marine, who are eighth, suffered a 4-0 drubbing at Bolitho Park to a Truro City side who re-claimed top spot as a consequence.

There’s virtually a full fixture list in Division One Central on Saturday, with leaders Ware making the tricky trip to Creasey Park to take on AFC Dunstable.

Paul Halsey’s Ware side are currently three points clear at the top after they hammered bottom and win-less Barton Rovers 5-1 in midweek, while the OD’s may be down in eighth, but have played less games and have only lost once in the league to date.

Biggleswade FC slipped into second spot on Wednesday after their 1-0 success at FC Romania on Wednesday night and Dave Northfield and Mark Inskip’s men face Nicky Ironton’s Walthamstow at The Eyrie on Saturday.

Ironton is having to re-build Stow after John Mackie and Terry Spillane departed and then joined FC Romania and suffered a disappointing 4-0 home defeat to Hadley on Tuesday to leave them in tenth spot.

Kempston Rovers lost their unbeaten tag to a Kidlington side who overtook the Walnut Boys into third spot and Chris Nunn’s side will be keen to get back on track when they travel to The Meadow to take on an Aylesbury United side who are on a poor run of six successive defeats in all competitions.

Kidlington are at Yarnton Road where they welcome a Waltham Abbey side who have only won once in the league to date, that coming against leaders Ware back in August.

Berkhamsted occupy the other top five spot and they journey across to take on Harlow Town at The Pardus Wealth Stadium.

The Hawks are currently third-from-bottom with just one win in the league, although Danny Chapman’s side have fared well in the Isuzu FA Trophy and have a mouth-watering local derby against Isthmian League Premier Division neighbours Bishop’s Stortford in the First Round to look forward to on October 29th.

Until then, however, they need to pick up some more league points.

Barton Rovers and Cirencester Town both look to break their duck in the league on Saturday.

Rovers, who have drawn two of their seven league games, are at Sharpenhoe Road against Highworth Town, who only won for the first time themselves on Wednesday when beating Thame United 1-0 at the Save on Tyres Stadium.

Cirencester, who have surprised many by struggling since being switched divisions by the FA, are also at home with FC Romania being first-time visitors to the Corinium Stadium.

The day’s other games see Hadley at home to Didcot Town and Hertford Town in derby action at Hertingfordbury Park against Welwyn Garden City.

In Division One South, leaders Sholing, who lost for the first time in the league last weekend at Westbury United, will be desperate to return to winning ways when they host third-placed Frome Town in the game of the day at The Imperial Homes Stadium.

The Boatmen’s lead at the top is now only two points but Frome missed the chance to get closer to the leading pair when they dropped two home points to bottom-of-the-table Lymington Town in midweek – the Linnets’ first point on the campaign to date.

Exmouth Town have done exceptionally well since winning promotion from the Toolstation Western League at the end of last season and are second with just one loss to date.

Saturday sees them make the tricky journey down to the Hampshire coast to take on Lymington, who, as mentioned above, are still looking for a first three-point haul but will be buoyed by that point at Frome.

Hamworthy United, also newly promoted, are fourth but have lost manager Tim Sills to league rivals Wimborne Town this week, so it will be interesting to see how they react as they journey to another newcomer, Westbury, on Saturday.

Willand Rovers complete the top five after they won the Devon `derby` at Bideford AFC on Tuesday to leave their hosts still searching for a first win.

Rovers are at home to Wimborne, who are 12th and will have new boss Sills watching on.

Bideford, meanwhile, head up the motorway to Bishops Cleeve looking to break their duck but face a host who had a good 3-1 win at surprise strugglers Bristol Manor Farm in midweek – Cleeve’s third win in eight league games.

Farm, who many felt would feature at the top end of the table after finishing fifth in 2021/22, make the relatively short trip to the Causeway Ground to take on Cinderford Town also looking to take their first three-point haul.

The Foresters are currently 11th and drew 2-2 at Plain Ham against Larkhall Athletic on Wednesday night.

And the Larks are the other team in the division yet to find a win in 2022/23.

They are at sixth-placed Paulton Rovers on Saturday chasing that elusive victory – Rovers having had a good 3-2 success at Melksham Town in midweek.

AFC Totton, another side expected to do well this term, find themselves down in 16th spot but have only played five league games to date due to cup runs – they face Redditch United away in the First Round of the Trophy.

They welcome the team two places above them in the table, Slimbridge, to the Snows Stadium on Saturday.

Two league newcomers, Tavistock AFC and Bashley, meet down in Devon at Langsford Park – Bash having shared a 0-0 draw with AFC Totton on Tuesday in front of a terrific crowd of 590.

Evesham United, currently seventh, have the team immediately below them, Melksham, visiting, in the day’s other game.


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