Victory for Lydney Town on Monday night in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division not only confirmed the Gloucestershire sides survival at step five but also ensured the divisions current bottom four couldn’t escape.
That means Highmoor Ibis, Fairford Town, Woodley United and Burnham are all ‘officially’ relegated – but as we all know well by now, the trap door to the first division is more of a sieve than a well.
In the 2016/17 season only Henley Town were properly relegated by virtue of finishing bottom – the Premier Division then was only 18 teams and the other relegation candidates Burnham were reprieved by the voluntary demotion of Ardley United.
The previous season it was Tuffley Rovers who were reprieved, they finished fourth bottom but Milton United, Abingdon United and Wokingham & Emmbrook all went down.
The bottom four will now spend their remaining fixtures jostling for position with Woodley United being placed in the crazy situation of having to play three times in five days by the Hellenic League despite the Football Association allowing the season to be extended.
While technically the Kestrels might already be relegated, as shown above the higher you finish in the bottom four the more likely you are to earn a reprieve. In contrast, Highmoor and Fairford both have one game left while Burnham have two.
Added in to the mix is the restructuring at step 3 and 4 above the Hellenic League which we already know will allow two clubs to take promotion – Bracknell Town will hope to join Thatcham Town shortly.
There are a number of clubs at step four either merging or voluntarily dropping down that we know about – Ossett Town and Albion (merger), Thurrock (folding), Shortwood United (voluntary relegation) which will create space to fill while a lot will depend on the clubs coming from step 6.
Currently it looks like for the first time in ages that four clubs can be promoted from the two Division Ones. Bicester Town and Virginia Water should be able to make the jump from Division One East while Ardley United and Shrivenham should both be eligible in the West.
Main image: Woodley United’s Mitch Cooper by Neil Graham.