Having reached the halfway stage of this season’s Bracknell Sunday League campaign we take a look at who’s in the running for League and Cup honours as well as sharing our “festive crackers” for 2018.
Reigning Champions FC Fernhill will be favourites to retain the Premier Division title though will face a stiff challenge from last season’s runners-up Crowthorne Inn and promoted Raglan.
Fernhill currently occupy 2nd position and just one point behind leaders Crowthorne Inn whilst Raglan occupy 3rd position, level on points with Fernhill who have played two games less.
Much was anticipated of Athletico Forest following their switch from the Reading League and have gradually found their feet and, after a slow start, have started to string some results together. Both they, and 2016-17 Champions Finchampstead Athletic (currently 4th), may have a big say in the outcome.
Looking at the Division 1 table it would not be hard to think that the race to the finish over the next 4 months will be between current leaders Loveman United, 2nd placed Finchampstead Athletic Reserves and 3rd placed Wokingham & Emmbrook TMW. Loveman hold the nap hand having played 3 and 2 fewer games than their closest challengers.
Just one point separates the top 3 but Loveman have much the better goal difference. Teams currently occupying 4th and 5th positions, AFC Crowthorne Stiffs and Berks County, will look for more consistency to stay in contention.
Sandhurst FFC have led Division 2 for much of the season but have Moore Close Manor close on their shirt-tails looking to pounce on the slightest slip-up from the leaders. The gap is just 3 points but Sandhurst have played one game less. The two are scheduled to meet the second weekend in January for the first of this season’s big showdowns between the two.
Promoted and last season’s Division 3 Champions Woodley Saints, who currently occupy 6th position but have played 5 games less than Sandhurst due to their extended run in both County and League Cup’s, will have a big say in the title race.
Current leaders of Division 3 Bearwood Wanderers will be favourites to lift that title. Their lead over 2nd placed Bracknell Cavaliers is 6 points whilst 3rd placed a trail by 7 points.
Could this be the season that Crownwood Dukes, who have bravely battled through recent seasons in the lower echelons of each of the Divisions in which they have played, to just miss out on promotion last season, finally lift the Division 4 title?
Dukes lead the table at halfway mark 2 points clear of 2nd placed FC Harmanswater who have played 3 games more. Bracknell Cavaliers Reserves in 3rd could, with a run of form, challenge strongly in the second half of the season but will have to make 5 points up on the leaders.
Four Bracknell Sunday League teams will go into the New Year to resume their battles in their respective County Cup competitions.
Loveman United have reached the quarter final stage of the Berks & Bucks Junior Cup whilst Woodley Saints have reached the same stage of the Berks & Bucks Junior Trophy. Bearwood Wanderers will play their 3rd round tie whilst Winnersh Town play their 4th round (last 16) tie on 6th January, also in the Trophy.
The League’s Advantage Printroom Senior and Junior Cups have both reached semi-final stage, to be played in March. In the Senior Cup holders FC Fernhill will be favourites to beat Wokingham & Emmbrook TMW whilst the other will be a much more evenly contested tie between Athletico Forest and Finchampstead Athletic.
In the Junior Cup last season’s finalists Woodley Saints will be slight favourites to beat Silver Birch Dynamoes whilst the other sees Sandhurst FFC take on Winnersh Rangers (all of Division 2).
Football in Bracknell’s Christmas Crackers:
FC Fernhill – Treble winners in 2017-18 (Premier Division Champions, League Senior Cup winners and Aldershot Cup winners), ended the year having not lost a league fixture (spanning the end of last and the first half of this season, of course!)
Raglan – Winners of the Berks & Bucks Junior Cup and Division 1 Champions in 2017-18, making a strong return to the Premier Division (currently occupy 3rd position).
Loveman United – In only their second season together narrowly missed out on promotion last season and look strong contenders to lift the Division 1 title this season. Berks & Bucks Junior Cup quarter finalists, will take on Maidenhead Cosmos on 20th January.
Running Horse – Having won only one league game as Berkshire United last season, a change of name and the introduction of some new players has seen a turnaround in form this season. Running Horse occupy 4th position in Division 3 following their 4 wins and 3 draws to date
Woodley Saints – New to the league last season finished as Division 3 Champions and League Junior Cup finalists, have set their sights this season on Division 2 honours as well as both League Junior Cup and County Junior Trophy.
Bracknell Titans – for gamely battling on as the League’s basement team, still seeking their first league point of the season
Bearwood Wanderers and Sandhurst FFC – Along with FC Fernhill, the League’s only unbeaten teams in league competition this season so far
Braybrooke Athletic – The League’s highest scoring team so far this season with 41 goals (an average of 4.1 goals per game).
Football in Bracknell would like to wish all Bracknell Sunday League teams and readers of these regular Sunday League features our very best of season’s greetings and a prosperous 2019.