FA Vase Preview
The draw for the first round proper of the FA Vase, released on Monday lunchtime, features just one all Western League clash, as Street go to Willand Rovers, having already succumbed at Silver Street, 2-0 just over a month ago writes Kerry Miller.
With prize money at stake and both teams in the mix for the league championship, it is undoubtedly the tie of the round in the west.
At the opposite end of the league’s catchment area, Malmesbury Vics have yet to discover when their abandoned tie at London Lions on Saturday will be rescheduled. A horrible injury to Sam Parker, who broke a kneecap when cashing into some pitch side barriers, caused the early finish and a headache, as Lions are an all-Jewish club and the holiest day in their calendar, Yom Kippur, starts on Friday and ends on Saturday night, meaning a return to Arkley Lane Barnet will not happen on Saturday.
The winners will entertain one of England’s oldest and most famous amateur teams, Clapton FC, who play at the Old Spotted Dog ground and who in recent years have acquired a support known as the Clapton Ultras, so if Vics do get through they have a noisy afternoon ahead of them.
Odd Down will be watching Wednesday’s tie between Tavistock and Camelford closely as the winners of that Devon/Cornwall derby have the trip to the Lew Hill Memorial ground to look forward to.
Tavistock should be too good for their SW Peninsula League colleagues, as they are reigning champions and are well known up country, having beaten Shepton Mallet twice and Keynsham Town in FA ties recently, before beating Southern League Taunton Town in an FA Cup replay at Wordsworth Drive this month.
Wellington have a home draw with Wessex League Downton, who they have played in this competition before, although the Wiltshire club have dropped down a division since and are tenth in Division One, with four wins from seven games.
Westbury United also have Wessex League opposition with the visit of US Portsmouth to Meadow Lane. United Services no longer consist of servicemen only and play at the imposing Victory Stadium, in Portsmouth. They are sixth in the same division as Downton and with an identical record.
Cadbury Heath have a trip to Oxfordshire to take on relegated Wantage Town, who are now in the Hellenic League Premier Division having gone down from the Southern League alongside Bridgwater Town last May. Wantage play at Alfredian Park, an attractive set up in a pleasant area where Heath will be looking to bounce back from their heart-breaking late FA Cup exit at home to Bridport last Wednesday.
Radstock Town go to pastures new at the same time as they travel to Portsmouth to take on the impressively named Baffins Milton Rovers. Rovers are a young club, having come into being when two prominent Sunday clubs in Portsmouth, joined forces and moved to Saturdays. They have a new ground, named the Kendall Stadium, overlooking Langstone Harbour and have won four of ten Wessex League Premier Division games leaving them seventh.
Making the reverse journey are another Wessex club, Alton, who ply their trade in Division One. The complex history of football in Alton would take an age but the current club moved to Anstey Park and merged with a youth club, when their brewery owned ground was taken from them after many years of wrangling. They travel to Hengrove Athletic, who are mid-table in the Premier Division after a steady start for a match which is hard to call. Alton hammered Amesbury Town for seven on Saturday so know where the goal is.
Finally, Bridgwater Town will have expected to have a better draw after their stunning win in Cornwall last Saturday, but they are on the road again to travel to Wessex Premier Bashley.
The Hampshire side have had a torrid time of late with rumours of mergers, relegations and ground loss, but they are still in their scrapping seemingly not that far away from some of their heady days with three Wessex titles and an FA Vase semi-final defeat to Emley. The Robins can beat anyone on their day and another winning cheque is not out of the question.