It’s the big one!

By Ian Townsend

We’ve a titanic top two clash as Worthing host Folkestone Invicta. Can the visitors cut the Mackerel Men’s lead to two points- or will Worthing be eight points clear at full time? Here’s our Premier preview.

The unthinkable happened last weekend. After four months unbeaten, Worthing went and lost a league match as Cray Wanderers came, saw and conquered! Could Folkestone Invicta cut the gap at the top? In a word, no- they were also falling to home defeat, as Carshalton Athletic left Kent with the points.

On Saturday the two meet at the Crucial Environmental Stadium. Worthing- who also lost in the Velocity Trophy in midweek- will hope to bounce back, and will know that victory will put them eight points clear of their closest rivals. Invicta, however, will be aware that if they can win the gap will be cut to two points, and give them real hope of overhauling the Mackerel Men to take the title. A big crowd is expected, and no matter what Storm Dennis dumps on us Worthing’s 3G pitch should mean that the game is on! When the two met on opening day Invicta ran out two-nil winners.

Cray Wanderers, who climbed to third with that win last weekend, are nine points behind the leaders. They host Kingstonian, who only have one defeat in ten but who are having their promotion charge held up because they’ve drawn five of them, and have fallen thirteen points off the playoff places with only three matches in hand over the side in fifth place.

Hornchurch, in fourth, are ten points off the pace- and now only have one match in hand after taking only one point from their last six, that point coming in a goalless draw at Lewes on Wednesday evening. The Urchins host Merstham, who have improved markedly in recent weeks and are unbeaten in four matches- a run which has seen them climb to nineteenth. When the two met on the opening day the Urchins won 2-1, but the Moatsiders look considerably stronger now.

Fifth place Carshalton Athletic host Potters Bar Town. The Robins will be buoyant after that win in Kent last weekend, whilst the Scholars defeated Hornchurch last time out so won’t be short on confidence themselves.

Horsham have slipped out of the top five due to some indifferent form, but looked anything but downhearted when walloping Burgess Hill Town five-nil in the Velocity Trophy on Wednesday. They’ll be hoping that victory over their Sussex neighbours along with their victory over Haringey Borough last weekend means their fortunes have turned once more, and they travel up the A24 to Leatherhead in positive mood. The Tanners, five points behind the Hornets, are unbeaten in five- but they’ve drawn three of them, and will need to start turning draws into victories if they want to challenge for a top five spot.

Enfield Town, in seventh, host Lewes. The Rooks are far better on the road than at home, and will be hoping to impress their new manager Hugo Langton. The Towners have been inconsistent of late, having won-lost-won-lost-won their last five matches. When the two met on the opening day at the Dripping pan the match ended in a draw, but both sides will be hoping for more than that; Enfield to close the gap on the top five, the Rooks to extend the gap between themselves and trouble.

Bognor Regis Town host Bishop’s Stortford, so long as Nyewood Lane has been repaired after the damage caused by Storm Ciara and doesn’t take any more punishment from Storm Dennis. The Rocks are six points off a playoff spot and struggling with injuries, whilst the Blues have slipped alarmingly off the pace with only one win from their last ten and defeat in six of their last nine.

East Thurrock United, who are nine points off the playoff places but have as many as three matches in hand over the sides above them, travel to face a resurgent Cheshunt. The Ambers swept aside Worthing in the Velocity Trophy in midweek and walloped six past Lewes last weekend, so will be looking to avenge their opening day defeat.

Margate, those perennial surprises from the Kent coast, travel to the Essex coast to face bottom side Brightlingsea Regent. You never quite know what you’re going to get from either side; Regent have taken seven points from their last thirty, Gate have managed only two more, and neither side have a win from their last three matches. A positive result is particularly important to the hosts, for whom three points could move them up as many as three places.

Second bottom Wingate & Finchley host Bowers & Pitsea in a battle of the ampersands. The Blues are in their best form of the season, winning their last two and unbeaten in three. Bowers have only one defeat in five and won against Haringey Borough in midweek, so both sides should be confident. The last match between the two ended in a one-all draw.

Finally, Corinthian-Casuals host Haringey Borough. Casuals positive recent form has seen them climb to twentieth, and they’ll hope for a further victory with only three defeats from their last ten matches. Borough, in contrast, have only two points from their last fifteen and their fans will be desperate to see an improvement- whilst pleased that they’re still eleven points ahead of the bottom three.

Where next?

Swifts and Jammers fight for supremacy Heybridge Swifts host our game of the day, as Tilbury come to call. whilst Romford could even get off the bottom this weekend. It's our preview of all of the North Division action.
Positivity- the Jack Hutchinson story Elsa Jones, a young volunteer at Hanwell Town and member of the Middlesex FA Youth Council, introduces you to Jack- a player who won't be kept down.

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