Back in July our man Ryan Butler cast his eye ahead on our local sides ahead of the opening weekend in the Hellenic Premier. With four of the six now at least half way into their league campaign, let’s take a look at how Ryan’s predictions have gone.
What Ryan Said: I think Cleeve are rightly being touted as the team to watch and beat this season. There are a number of clubs that pop up in almost everyone’s top six prediction and Cleeve are one of them. However, I have seen sides struggle to adapt to leagues and with strong sides everywhere you turn it could be a wake up call early on. Final position = 4th.
Current Position: 5th
Most Notable Result(s): Brimscombe & Thrupp 0-2 Bishops Cleeve (7th August); Brackley Town Saints 0-2 Bishops Cleeve (8th December)
Stand-out player(s): Brad Martin, Elliot Kennedy, Jack Watts, Adam Mace
In Summary: The Mitres started well, with 7 points from their opening 3 games but then a run of 3 defeats in a row saw question marks thrown at Stephen Cleal’s men. An unbeaten run of seven followed with October being a very productive month for the club. The way they are playing now tells you that they will still have a say on the title and promotion in the division.
For me, the wins at Brimscombe at the start of the season and their 2-0 win this weekend at table toppers Brackley Town Saints show the steel of the side and that they can produce on the big occasion. Their forward line of Martin, Kennedy and Watts have been exceptional and Adam Mace has shown his class with goals from defence.
Brimscombe & Thrupp
What Ryan said: Just like Bishops Cleeve, Brimscombe & Thrupp are one of the sides that appears on everybody’s list for top 6 this season, they appear in a lot of people’s top 4 list but for me I’m going for it. They are in my top 1 list. Sam Prior is building something special down at the Meadow. Final Position = 1st.
Current Position: 3rd
Most Notable Result(s): Bishops Cleeve 0-1 Brimscombe & Thrupp (21st August); Ascot United 1-3 (22nd September)
Stand-out player(s): Sam Blackie, Harrison Reeves, Ash Caldwell, Ash Gale
In Summary: Sam Prior’s men have been outstanding. They won only one of their opening four games before going to Kayte Lane and netting a later winner against Bishops Cleeve. Since that win they have lost 2 of their last 15 league games, losing 3-2 at home to Brackley Town Saints and 4-2 away to Ardley United. What has been impressive is the Lilywhites’ away record during that time, picking up wins at Fairford and Longlevens locally and claiming wins at Shrivenham, Reading City, Ascot United and Abingdon United.
The wins against Bishops Cleeve and Ascot United are the two notable results for me. The win at Kayte Lane set the foundations and the win at Ascot could be crucial as Ascot will be up there come the end of the season. In terms of players look to Sam Blackie and Ash Caldwell who have 24 goals between them, the impressive Harrison Reeves and keeper Ash Gale who has made over 20 appearances in all competitions.
What Ryan Said: A lot of people almost forgot about Fairford’s initial struggle at the start of last season, but that helps them going into this new season. They have the chance to prove some of the doubters wrong and I can see them finishing further up the table. Jody Bevan and Jamie Reid have a chance to lay down a marker early on. Final Position = 12th
Current Position: 9th
Most Notable Result(s): Abingdon United 2-3 Fairford Town (22nd September); Ardley United 4-5 Fairford Town (6th October); Bishops Cleeve 0-3 Fairford Town (17th November)
Stand-out player(s): Jonathan Thomas, Robbie James, Dan Bailey
In Summary: Superb. Honestly, the job that Jody Bevan’s men both on and off the field have done is outstanding so far. After getting only 1 point from their opening 7 league games they now find themselves in the top half of the table, with more wins than they managed in the whole of the 2017/18 season. They have been competitive and resilient and have proved a lot of the doubters wrong. The influence of Lee Randall in the changing room has been incredible to see.
Fairford have too many notable results to choose from but three stand out for me. The win at Abingdon was their first of the season and was vital. The win a couple of weeks later against Ardley was one of those impossible games you get. 3-1 down at half time and to win 5-4 shows just what this side is made of. The win at Bishops Cleeve is one of the results of the season. Jon Thomas has scored the goals whilst Dan Bailey has been a near ever-present. Robbie James has been crucial for Bevan’s men.
What Ryan Said: Longlevens recorded their highest ever finish at Hellenic League level last season finishing 9th. I think they can go one better and another decent cup run will see it be a massive season for the men from Saw Mills. Final Position = 8th.
Current Position: 19th
Most Notable Result(s): Longlevens 1-0 Bishops Cleeve (27th August); Longlevens 1-0 Ascot United (8th September)
Stand-out players: James Campbell, Logan Roach, Harry Emmett
In Summary: Where do I start? Longlevens were 2-0 up against Flackwell Heath on the opening day and two late goals saw two points dropped and really, Longlevens simply haven’t recovered. They currently find themselves bottom of the league and even though performances have been there, they haven’t been consistent enough to replicate last season’s fine form. Losing manager Mark Moore in October on medical grounds has had a major impact anyway you look at it. The side have a big 2019 ahead of them.
In terms of results the two 1-0 wins at home to Bishops Cleeve & Ascot United showed that they can defend, that they can grind out a win in an important game and can be a cohesive unit. Unfortunately opponents haven’t had to do an awful lot to score against Longlevens. Personnel wise James Campbell has been a revelation at times and youngsters Logan Roach and Harry Emmett are growing into their roles by the game.
What Ryan Said: Lydney’s biggest problem will be the size of their squad. If they are able to utilize what they can they will cause teams trouble. Ideally they could do without a bad winter, after last season saw a number of postponements leading to Lydney playing two games in two days. A silly situation for any club to find themselves. Final Position = 15th.
Current Position: 8th
Most Notable Result(s): Longlevens 2-3 Lydney Town (8th August); Lydney Town 1-0 Wantage Town (15th September)
Stand-out player(s): Lewis Thompson, Ross Gabriel, Liam Sheppard, Matthew Board
In Summary: Just like Fairford it’s been a sensational start to the season for Lydney. Mark Lee’s men suffered a postponement on the opening weekend so their first game was the win at Longlevens. From there they keep surprising everyone. Further wins against Wantage, Flackwell Heath and Fairford have seen Lydney continue to turn heads as they sit in the top 10, somewhere they have now been for a while.
Results wise the wins at Longlevens and the home win against Wantage Town are the two results that are the most important. A local derby is always big but it was even more so considering it was their season opener. The win against Wantage speaks for itself. Player wise you have to look at Lewis Thompson who is the top scorer, Ross Gabriel who has scored some very important goals and duo Liam Sheppard and Matthew Board who have started 19 and 18 games in all competitions.
What Ryan Said: Tuffley Rovers finished 10th last season after a strong end to the season. This season I would anticipate them to start slow and gain momentum during the campaign. Not that it is a negative thing but it’s because their pre-season has been less than ideal. Tuffley lost a few players to injury early on in pre-season and they were all defenders. It has caused Rovers to not be able to get a settled back line and thus makes them vulnerable. Final Position = 14th.
Current Position: 18th
Most Notable Result(s): Longlevens 1-3 Tuffley Rovers (5th September); Tuffley Rovers 6-1 Virginia Water (6th October)
Stand-out player(s): Joel White, Sam Hill, Jack Phillips, Mark Pritchett
In Summary: At the start of the season I thought Tuffley could struggle. Simply because they had lost a lot of experience in the summer. Early into the campaign they were to lose Shayne Anson to Evesham United and the wins weren’t coming as easy as their performances warranted. A big win against Longlevens injected a bit of confidence into the side but a real lack of killer instinct has cost Tuffley points so far this term.
Other than the win at Longlevens, Severn Sport were there to see Tuffley shake their home monkey off their backs by sticking 6 past a Virginia Water side that has taken points off nearly every one of our local sides. Still though, the lack of killer instinct is still there. Shayne Bradley is back and they brought in Henry Birkett and Lee Smith to add experience to a young side but their best signing Jack Phillips has been incredible. Sam Hill and Mark Pritchett have done a job all over for the side whilst captain Joel White has grown into the role very well.
We will be keeping an eye on all six of our local sides in the Hellenic Premier here at Severn Sport as the season goes into it’s second half.