Cheltenham League Round-up: Saturday 12th December

This season we have a weekly look at the Cheltenham League results and Rob Morrison has provided a round-up of all of the action of the penultimate gameweek of 2020.

It was a case of goals galore last weekend in Division One South with 39 in just 5 matches. The goal scoring tally was helped in no small part by the tie at KGV Shurdington as Dowty Dynamos beat their landlords Shurdington Rovers 9-6. The odds were stacked against the sides repeating their scoring feats this weekend however as they faced the top two teams.

Whaddon United’s 3-2 defeat of Lakeside last Saturday saw them move ahead of their visitors on goal difference with a game in hand. United were looking to maintain their place at the top against Dowty’s, a team who after a poor start have won their last three games.

Looking to put in another strong display, Dowty battled well on a sticky pitch but a goal in each half was enough to hand Whaddon all three points.

After losing out last weekend, Lakeside looked to bounce back when they hosted Shurdington who were no doubt smarting from being turned over by their lodgers last time out.

With an opportunity to move within touching distance of Lakeside, Rovers stunned their hosts with a 2-1 win to move within three points of their opponents. Perhaps more significantly the result saw Whaddon move three points clear with a game in hand on Lakeside.

Leckhampton Rovers are another side who will have taken heart from Lakeside’s defeat. Six point adrift of the second placed team they looked to stay in touch but faced a challenging tie against an AFC Renegades side who started the day with just a point less than their hosts.

It promised to be a close affair and so it proved, with AFC securing a 4-4 draw for the second consecutive game.

While a number of teams are jostling for position at the top end, there was a massive game at Whaddon Rec where the bottom two met. Goal difference separated Newton, in last place, and Brockworth Albion Reserves going into their game although their records were quite different. Newton won their opening game but have subsequently lost six on the bounce while Albion have yet to win, drawing three including, rather impressively ties against the top two.

In what could be a pivotal result and after 90 mins Albion had secured their first win. A 5-0 win saw them bag the three points and leave Newton rooted to the foot of the table.

Sitting just above these two were Fintan and Prestbury Rovers who went into their match having beaten Brockworth and Newton last weekend. Again this would be a big win for the teams looking to pull away from the bottom pack and it was Prestbury who claimed it, a single goal enough to give them maximum points and leave their opponents looking anxiously over their shoulders.

The highest ranked team with a 100 percent record, New Dales Vale, continued their fine start to the season, making it six out of six last Saturday. They looked to make it seven against Bredon Reserves, a side who topped the table in the early weeks following victories in their first three games but have subsequently lost the next three to slip down the table.

It was a big ask if Bredon were to get back to winning ways but they pulled off one of the shocks of the season as they beat their hosts 4-2 as Vale dropped points for the first time this season.

Three points and five goals last weekend will have buoyed a Bishops Cleeve Reserve side who have not hit their usually heights this campaign. They were hoping to build on their last game against second placed Hanley Swan.

With a draw and a defeat already against their name, Swan knew they could ill afford to drop more points if they wanted to keep the pressure on Dale at the top and a 4-0 win was made even sweeter when they saw the Vale result when they got off the pitch.

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Third placed Cheltenham Civil Service Reserves lost out to Cleeve last week and faced another challenging tie against Southside Star. Victory for Star would take them above their visitors and would two games in hand would put them in a great position.

For the second week running Service managed four goals and while the win proved elusive, it was enough to secure them a point and keep them in third.

With just four points separating second and seventh, Prestbury Rovers Reserves knew the importance of beating Smiths Barometrics Athletics Reserves if they wanted to stay in touch with the sides around them. A 2-0 defeat at the hands of Vale was no disgrace for Smiths but with just six points to their name it has been a challenging start to the season.

Once again there were plenty of goals for the spectators, with the teams scoring three a-piece to share the spoils.

With the grouping of teams at the top of the table, there is a real danger that the bottom sides could become part of a mini league. This weekend saw the bottom two meet as Pittville United looked to claim their first point of the season against a Welland Reserves side with a point to their name.

After 90 minutes the sides could not be separated, sharing the points following a 1-1 draw. While it is not the best United could have wished for it did hand them their first point of the season.

Cheltenham United made it eight wins from eight last weekend and sit five points clear at the top of Division Two. Making it to 2021 with a 100 percent record would be an impressive record and standing in their way this weekend were sixth placed New Dales Vale Reserves.

Sitting in mid table, Vale were closing points wise to the bottom club that their opponents and stopping United looked beyond them. Despite the odds, Vale were able to keep out the United strikers as the teams saw out a 0-0 draw to see the league’s other 100 percent record disappear.

The sides in second in third played out a draw last week and Tewkesbury Town Reserves, who lead the way on goal difference, looked to keep the pressure on the leaders when Cheltenham Civil Service III visited.

On paper it looked like a home win but like the leaders Town found they were unable to get the better of their opponents, a 1-1 draw meaning the points were shared.

Honeybourne United are neck and neck with Tewkesbury and like their near rivals looking at taking maximum points when they played Charlton Rovers Reserves. Although their opponents could move within three points of the second and third placed teams if they win their two games in hand, inconsistent results suggests this is not a foregone conclusion.

With the sides above them dropping points it promised to be a great opportunity for United to close the gap but, like the top two they were unable to take all three points as the teams drew 2 each.

Andoversford Reserves prop up the division but a game against Southside Star Reserves, two places and six points above them represented a real opportunity to add to their single point. For Star it was important to avoid defeat if they didn’t wanted to be dragged into a battle at the bottom.

The game saw five goals, three of which went to Southside to hand them the win and three big points.

Fintan Reserves slipped to defeat last weekend after leading for much of their game. With the possibility of ending the weekend at the foot of the table there was an even greater incentive for them to perform against 303 Squadron. Despite this they once against slipped to a 3-1 loss, kept off the foot of the table by Andoversford’s loss.

The final game in the division saw Falcons Reserves face Worcester City Royals. Falcon’s led the mid table group going into the weekend but with two games in hand and a four point gap it was a match Royals were looking to win.

While a top three finish looks unlikely it was an important game for both side and it was Worcester who edged it, winning 2-1 to move within a point of their hosts.

Kempsey Corinthians continue in pole position in Division Three and they went into their game against lowly Charlton Rovers III confident of staying there. With six defeats to their name already, it would have been a real shock if Rovers were to get anything out of the league leaders and so it proved as the leaders won 2-0.

Tewkesbury Athletic remain on Kempsey’s coat tails and, like last week, a early kick-off gave them an opportunity to take top spot before the leaders kicked-off. Standing in Athletics’ way were Woodmancote United, fresh from a 5-2 win over Bishops Cleeve Development which included a Mick Hackett brace.

Looking to build on their win United found Tewkesbury were not in a charitable mood as they won 4-1 to stay in the title hunt.

Despite last weekends defeat, it has already been a positive campaign for Cleeve and they looked to add another win to their record against new boys Abbeymead III, a side who have drawn one and lost their other four games. It looked a tough ask if Abbeymead were to get anything from the fixture and it was Cleeve who took all three points however the 1-0 win was much closer than many would have predicted.

A defeat and an abandoned game which saw both sides awarded no points has not been the start that AFC Cheltenham envisaged. Since their formation last season, AFC have proved to be one of the most ruthless sides when facing weaker opposition and their game against bottom club Fintan III had the potentially for them to improve their already impressive plus 33 goal difference.

With six defeats from their six games, it would probably rank as one of the results of the season if Fintan got anything from the game and at full-time AFC showed why as they hammered their hosts 13-1.

Newton Reserves were the other side that lost out in the abandoned game. Competing in their first season it has been a positive start from the Swindon Village based side, winning four of their six games. They travelled to Cheltenham Saracens III, a team who started the day level with them on points but having played two more games.

Saracens results this season have swayed from the sublime to the ridiculous and it while this was at either end of the spectrum it was Newton who came away victorious with a 3-1 win.

The final game in the division saw Winchcombe Town Reserves host AFC Renegades Reserves. With both teams nestled within a group of six clubs separated by just three points it looked like it could be a close affair however it was Winchcombe who brought their ‘A’ game, winning 4-0.

Cover photo courtesy of Rob Morrison