On the Trophy trail again

By Ian Townsend

We’re back on the road to Wembley this weekend. Here’s our preview of all the action.

Aveley made it all the way to the Quarter Finals of the competition last season before defeat at Notts County, so know only too well what Trophy glory looks like. They’ve been in inconsistent form over the last few weeks, with two wins and three defeats from their last five matches, and face a side from Step Three- Pitching In Southern Premier South’s Beaconsfield Town- but they slayed many giants last season, and this giant haven’t won a single match in any competition so far this campaign.

Margate have the worst strike rate in our top flight, and they may need to find their shooting boots on Sunday as they travel to high-flying Pitching In Southern Central Division One side Aylesbury United. The Ducks have lost only one league match this season and have been particularly impressive at home. They defeated Tilbury on penalties in the last round.

Barking have suddenly found form, winning their last two matches- indeed, winning three of four in all competitions- and defeating the leaders, Waltham Abbey, in midweek. Visitors Sittingbourne knocked out East Grinstead Town in the last round and then fell to narrow defeat in the league against Whyteleafe last Saturday, but Brickies fans would undoubtedly argue that due to a disputed penalty in that one they wuz robbed!

Another side in good form, Heybridge Swifts, travel to Biggleswade Town on the back of three wins on the bounce. Their hosts are sixteenth in the Pitching In Southern Premier Central, and apart from a rather remarkable seven-four win over Leiston a month ago haven’t been particularly remarkable during the rest of the campaign.

Bishop's Stortford entertained the nation with some televised cup heroics on Monday, and are still unbeaten in all competitions this season. The Blues host another set of Blues, Brentwood Town, who they played as recently as October 3rd in the FA Cup. On that occasion the Stortford boys won one-nil, but that was one of only two matches Town have lost this season so they will be no pushovers.

Bognor Regis Town host what looks to be a rather tasty tie as Tooting and Mitcham United come to call. The Rocks have a one hundred percent home record, whilst the South Central Terrors have won seven of their last eight and three in a row.

We’ve an Essex derby as Bowers & Pitsea host Hornchurch. Bowers haven’t had a game of any sort for three weeks so predicting form is rather difficult, but the Urchins have been in fine fettle during that same time period, with three wins and a draw from their last four- and in another of those quirks that come our way from time to time they knocked Bowers out of the FA Cup at the Len Salmon five weeks ago, winning three-nil.

Bracknell Town have been unbeatable in the league and have lost only once all season in all competitions, whilst Pitching In Southern South Division One side Cinderford Town arrive having only won one of their last six. Postponed- covid issues at Cinderford.

Burgess Hill Town have had a dreadful last seven days, losing three-nil at home to Ramsgate before being hit for five at Whyteleafe in midweek. They host Harrow Borough, our former favourites who currently sit sixteenth in Pitching In Southern Premier South. Borough seem to have turned the corner of late, unbeaten in three, and will pose a stern test.

Whyteleafe will be buoyant after that five goal win on Tuesday night, and won’t be afraid of travelling to another Southern Premier South side, Chesham United. Their hosts are sixth in their division, but are finding goals hard to come by- they’ve scored only six all season in all competitions, and none of those at home.

North Division Coggeshall Town bring Premier Division Wingate & Finchley to Essex, the visitors in fine form after three wins from four whilst the Seed Growers still search for consistency- but they are three matches unbeaten, even if they did only yield two goals.

Corinthian-Casuals welcome another of our former favourites, as Hendon head to King George’s Field. Casuals have had an up and down sort of season so far, whilst the Greens sit in seventh in Pitching In Southern Premier South and look a good bet for a playoff push.

East Thurrock United host Cheshunt in an all-Premier clash, the Rocks looking for revenge after their visitors defeated them one-nil in the first game of the season; whilst Enfield Town put their one hundred percent home record to the test as they welcome South East Ramsgate to the QEII Stadium. The Rams have two away wins from three so far this season.

Faversham Town put their unbeaten league record to one side as they host Premier Division Haringey Borough. The Lilywhites walloped Hertford Town in the last round, whilst Borough, after a steady start in the League, have lost twice on the road during the last seven days so will not want that to become a habit.

Felixstowe & Walton United have had a fabulous start to the season, losing only one- and walloped Westfield five-nil in the last round. They bring Metropolitan Police to the seaside, the boys in blue currently ninth and struggling for consistency, with two wins and three defeats from their five matches this month.
Nobody will want to play Hastings United at the moment, and the side with that task as they visit the South East Division leaders are Ashford Town, who have had a good start to their South Central season but saw their five match unbeaten run come to an end against Chertsey Town in midweek.

Herne Bay, who have had a hit and miss sort of season so far, travel to Hitchin Town. Their Step Three hosts are in tenth place in Pitching In Southern Premier Central, and are also searching for consistency at present.

Horsham are back in their Camping World Community Stadium, where they host Pitching In Southern Division One Central side Welwyn Garden City. The visitors came to Sussex for the last round, too, demolishing Haywards Heath Town by four goals to one, and are unbeaten in five matches. Horsham are still searching for consistency, but have scored nine goals in their last two home matches so are fast turning their stadium into a fortress.

Brightlingsea Regent, the last side to lose at Horsham, travel to face Kings Langley of Pitching In Southern Premier Central. Kings are the draw specialists in their division, drawing five of their eight matches so far. Undefeated in all competitions since the opening day- with the exception of a shootout loss against Barking- they’ll be no pushovers for Regent, who will want to get back to winning ways after defeat to Folkestone Invicta last weekend.

Leatherhead and Potters Bar Town already know each other well as they meet at Fetcham Grove. Two points and three places separate them in the league, and they’ll meet again at the end of November so one of them will go into that match with a psychological advantage- as someone needs to win this one, even if on penalties. Neither have hit any kind of a rhythm this season, both impressive and awful in places.

League leaders Worthing travel to face former Isthmian favourites Leiston, their hosts bottom of Pitching In Southern Premier Central without a league win this season, and conceding an average of three goals a game. For some reason they been an entirely different prospect in cup matches, however, getting as far as the final qualifying round of the FA Cup before losing narrowly to Barnet, so their chances may depend on whether Leiston Jekyll turns up, or his alter-ego Leiston Hyde.

Lewes are another Sussex club with a long trip in prospect, as they travel to face another former Isthmian favourite, Lowestoft Town. The Trawlerboys are league rivals of Leiston, although have six more league points, but they don’t have a win in their last four. The Rooks, in contrast, are unbeaten in four so shouldn’t be short on confidence.

Maldon & Tiptree welcome Premier Division Kingstonian, and given their form won’t be at all worried at facing a higher-ranked side- they defeated those for fun last season and have already knocked two out of cup competitions this time around. The K’s will not be downhearted by reputation, however, as they have a squad that, if it could find some consistency, would surely be challenging at the top end of the Pitching In Isthmian Premier. A record of four wins and four defeats from eight matches perhaps demonstrates why consistency is still being sought.

Marlow, who scored four goals in midweek and have only two defeats from open play so far this season, host Berkhamsted- another side who are in good form and have only one league defeat. Their visitors have won their last four, including victory over Isthmian South Central Marlow in the last round of this competition, and will pose a stern test.

Merstham will be desperate for a victory as they host Carshalton Athletic- particularly after their humbling at Cray in midweek. The Moatsiders have picked up only one point from their last five league matches and departed the FA Cup at first time of asking, but will be buoyed by this fact- their opponents have been superb at home but a different side on their travels, losing their last three away matches. The Robins did, however, defeat their hosts at the very same stage of the Trophy last season.

Dereham Town travel to Mickleover Sports. Their Derbyshire opponents are in the Pitching In Northern Premier, where they sit in third place, and they are unbeaten in open play (they lost a penalty shootout against St Albans City) in eight matches, with Stuart Beavon and Declan Bacon (we hoped he’d be called Biffa, but were sadly disappointed) scoring for fun. The Magpies have lost only one of their last six, however, and should be confident.

Three Bridges travel to face Needham Market. The Marketmen have had a fabulous start to the Pitching In Southern Premier Central season, sitting in second place and still unbeaten, but Bridges also travel in good form, having won three of their last four and hammered Phoenix Sports six-nil last Saturday.

Hythe Town travel to Royston Town, who sit in eighth place in Pitching In Southern Premier Central. Royston’s only defeat from their last seven matches came against Bishop’s Stortford in the FA Cup, and they won’t want to slip up against another Isthmian side this weekend- whilst the Cannons saw a four match unbeaten run come to an end as they lost at Haywards Heath last time out, but so long as they’ve got over the covid issues which got in the way of their midweek match should be raring to go.

Uxbridge host a local derby, as Hayes & Yeading United come to call. The Red Army have not been given much to shout about so far this season, but their team have performed better against the fancied sides, as Waltham Abbey and Ware have discovered recently, so perhaps they may want to ask their visitors to temporarily change their names to Wayes and Weading United?

Hayes have had trouble turning one point into three this season, drawing four of their seven league matches, but are currently eight matches unbeaten- a run which included that five-nil cup hammering of Bognor Regis Town at the start of the month. Uxbridge will hope their visitors are more focused on their impending FA Cup match with Carlisle United.

Folkestone Invicta travel from Kent to Surrey as they visit Walton Casuals. Casuals sit in midtable in the Pitching In Southern Premier South, and in midweek got back to form after two matches where they conceded five goals by walloping Met Police three-nil. Invicta have had a hit and miss sort of season so far, but also got back to winning ways at Brightlingsea Regent in their last match.

Whitehawk have not had the start to the season they would have hoped for, winning only one league match so far. You’d expect them to improve their form in the near future, but their visitors this weekend will prove daunting opponents, as Cray Wanderers hit Merstham for six in midweek and will arrive at the seaside bursting with confidence.

Where next?

Sparks borrow a Mackerel Man South Park bring in Worthing defender
Gulls on the telly! Canvey FA Cup tie live on the BBC web service

The Pitching In Isthmian Football League newsletter

Keep up-to-date with our exclusive email newsletters.