Can the Mackerel Men, the Robins and the Millers hit the heights?

By Ian Townsend

We could have new leaders in three of our four Divisions by full time tonight. Here's our preview of an exciting evening in prospect.

Pitching In Isthmian Premier

Worthing were our title-favourites before the season started, and tonight they could go top of the table, as they play their game in hand over current leaders Enfield Town when welcoming Merstham to the Crucial Environmental Stadium.

Home fans will be hoping that tonight’s match is less stressful that their five-four win over Lewes on Saturday, but will be full of confidence after watching their team win six of their last seven matches- the other was a draw. The visitors, however, won’t be short of confidence either. The Moatsiders are on their best run in rather a long time, indeed since their Playoff Final season of 2018-19, with three wins in a row and an average of four goals scored in each of them.

Worthing have won six of the last eight meetings between the sides, the sole exception being that Playoff season for Merstham, when they did the double over the Mackerel Men.

Sixth hosts fourth at Nyewood Lane, as Bognor Regis Town welcome Folkestone Invicta to the Sussex seaside. Invicta are our only unbeaten side in the Premier Division, and have won each of their last two league matches five-one; whilst the Rocks haven’t lost a league match since Saturday 28th August, and would undoubtedly be much higher than sixth if they hadn’t drawn more than any other club- indeed half of their matches so far have ended level.

The Rocks won both of their 2019-20 encounters, coming from behind to win their last meeting back in January 2020. A win for either side would see them climb to third.

Eighth place Margate welcome a shellshocked East Thurrock United to Hartsdown Park. A victory for the Blues will see them crash into the top five, whilst the Essex Rocks have fallen to third bottom following their eight goal thrashing at the hands of Enfield Town on Saturday. The visitors might take some consolation when considering that Margate’s recent record has a W-L-W-L-W-L-W look about it, and will want that sequence to continue, but perhaps less consolation from the fact that they themselves have lost four in a row and conceded seventeen goals in the process.

Margate have won only one of the last five encounters between the two sides, that victory coming two years ago this month.

Corinthian-Casuals welcome Bishop’s Stortford to Tolworth. Casuals finally got back to League action at the weekend after their cup heroics, and it was a happy return, as they defeated Hornchurch. The visiting Blues are undefeated in four, winning two and drawing two of those, and a win could see them climb into the top five depending on other results. The last three meetings between the two have seen a win each and a draw, but the last meeting between the two went the way of tonight’s hosts, back in November 2019.

Pitching In Isthmian North Division

We’ve only one match in the North Division tonight, and it sees Tilbury- with a new signing about to be announced- travel to Stowmarket Town.

Town have only one defeat in their last six league matches and are having a decent start to their first Pitching In Isthmian season, unbeaten at home. The visitors were highly-fancied before the start of the season but haven’t yet got going, with only two wins from nine and four defeats from their last four in all competitions. They’ll hope that their new arrival will help kick-start their season- we know who it is, and he should certainly be an asset!

Pitching In Isthmian South Central

Bracknell Town will go top of the table with just one point this evening, but they’d struggle to find a bigger challenge as they travel to face previously unbeaten Chertsey Town.

The Curfews start the night in eighth place, ten points behind the Robins, but they do have three games in hand following their cup heroics. The visitors have won five of their last six- their only defeat coming against Marlow- whilst the hosts have played only one league match in six weeks due to cup and trophy commitments, and won that at Ashford Town on Saturday.

The last three meetings between the two have seen a win each, and a draw.

Ashford Town will hope to bounce back from that defeat as they host Binfield- who were also losing, in their case to Bedfont Sports. The Tangerines start the night in seventeenth, the visitors in sixth- and the Moles will step back into the top five with a win or a draw, whilst the hosts would go twelfth with victory.

That defeat for the Moles was their first in seven matches, whilst the Tangerines have lost their last five in all competitions and have only one win in eight.

Pitching In Isthmian South East

Ten of our twenty sides are in action in the South East Division tonight, and we start our preview with the side in second place, Cray Valley PM, who would go top with victory over Hythe Town.

The Millers are two points behind leaders Haywards Heath Town, and got back to winning ways in style on Saturday, walloping six goals past Sittingbourne at Woodstock Park. The Cannons, in eleventh, also saw their last win come against the Brickies- but that was back on September 14th.

Ashford United will be hoping for a Millers slip up, as they are three points behind in third- but they’ll need to be at their very best to bridge that gap, as they travel to face title-favourites Hastings United. The Nuts and Bolts lost at the Pilot Field as recently as October 9th, when they departed the FA Trophy, but have won both league matches since then without conceding a goal; however the hosts have won their last five league matches and indeed have nine wins from ten in all competitions, the only defeat coming against National League opposition. Hastings are nine points off top spot with three games in hand, and will hit the top five with victory.

Herne Bay, in fourth, are on their way to East Grinstead Town. Bay are six points off the top with two games in hand, and will want to make this one count- and will move up a place if they win and Ashford United don’t. They’ve won their last three league matches- and indeed seven of their last eight in all competitions. The Wasps, in sixteenth, have gone five matches in all competitions without a win.

This match was previously played on 2nd October, when it was abandoned at half time without a goal.

Corinthian, up to ninth after three wins in a row, host Whitehawk, who must wish that every match was a cup match as they’ve been rather woeful in the league and the opposite in knock out competitions. The side in green and white have been impressive in wins over VCD Athletic, Lancing and Ramsgate, whilst the Hawks languish in eighteenth having won only two of their nine league matches this season, and have only scored one goal in their last three matches- in victory over East Grinstead Town earlier this month. In contrast, they’ve scored fourteen in their last four Cup and Trophy matches. Perhaps one of the Hawks Ultras should wave a tinfoil FA Cup instead of their keys tonight and see what happens!

Finally, fourteenth hosts thirteenth as Faversham Town travel to Lancing. The home side have seen their form slip a little in recent weeks, with only a draw to show from their last three in all competitions; whilst the travelling Lilywhites have only one defeat from four in all competitions, that coming against VCD Athletic in the FA Trophy. Only goal difference separates them at start of play, but the visitors have played two games fewer.

Worthing Image: Marcus Hoare.

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