We take a look at who has had a good week and a bad week in Berkshire non-league football.
Wokingham & Emmbrook
The Sumas have started the season in fine fashion and are sitting at the top of the Hellenic Division One East table with 4 wins from 4 and a goal difference of +14. Two of those wins came this week with a 2-0 home win over Thame Rangers on Saturday following a 4-0 victory at Holyport on Tuesday. Striker Jake White already has 9 goals from his 5 games and with 4 teams going up this season they will be one of the early favourites for promotion. Risborough Rangers were most people’s favourites for the title, but Wokingham will provide strong competition.
Sam Barratt free kicks
Maidenhead fans would have been delighted to see the return of crowd favourite Sam Barratt this summer after he was released by Southend United. The 25-year old is fondly remembered for his performances during the Magpies promotion season and the following year in the National League when he scored Maidenhead’s first-ever goal at that level.
If his performances in pre-season are anything to go by, he will be pleasing the crowd at York Road once again this year. He has played two games and scored two free-kicks. Last week’s effort against Hampton & Richmond Borough was followed by the only goal in Saturday’s win against Braintree
High scoring Berkshire ladies
The Thames Valley Counties Women’s Football League may only be a few games old, but some teams have taken no time at all to hit their stride. In Division One Tilehurst Panthers Women’s Development made it two wins from two with a 7-1 victory over Wokingham & Emmbrook Ladies, and in Division Three East, two Berkshire sides won big, with Ascot United Ladies Reserves beating Hillingdon Abbots Ladies 9-0 and Slough Town FC Ladies recording a 10-1 win on the road at Bessingby Park Rangers Women. Goals galore!
Windsor’s goal scorers
Windsor had started their season with one win from four games in all competitions, scoring four goals in the process. Three of those goals came from new signing Bill Montague, which lead some (this reporter) to suggest on East Meets West, a show about all things Hellenic League, that other players would have to chip in with goals if the Royalists were to have a good season. Cut to a week later, Windsor have scored four more goals across two games, and although they only picked up 3 points, they had three new goalscorers, with Horscroft, McNamara and Coles getting their first of the season to go with another from Montague. Someone at Windsor must be listening to the show!
Bracknell’s first half against Uxbridge
At half time in their game against Uxbridge on Saturday, Bracknell were having a good week. A tricky Tuesday night trip to Kent to face Ashford United in the FA Cup had been navigated with style and they had brought that form into the game at the Honeycroft. The Robins were two up with goals from Seb Bowerman and Caden Genovesi and it could have been more. Bowerman and Soares were a constant threat from out wide, Herbert was adding industry in midfield and Coles and Grant were looking dangerous up front. In a halftime chat with top photographer Neil Graham we were speculating that the game could finish 3, 4 or 5-0. They were well on top.
Bracknell’s second half against Uxbridge
I’m not quite sure what went wrong. In the second half Bracknell lacked the urgency they had in the first. The Robins still carried a threat through Bowerman in particular but Mark Scott in the Bracknell goal had already produced a couple of fine saves and seen another effort come back off the post before Uxbridge scored two goals in the last 12 minutes to rescue a point that had looked highly unlikely at halftime. Late on Bobby Wilkinson’s side had chances to take all three points but it wasn’t to be, and the manager will look at the result as two points dropped.
Fans of National League sides
With most leagues in the country having already kicked off, fans of National League clubs were already in an odd position before this week’s announcements. It was hoped that the delayed start to the season would allow time for the Government to run pilot sporting events with spectators meaning the National League, National League North and National League South would be able to start their season next weekend with at least some fans in attendance. The pausing of those pilots means that is not going to happen, and while the National League is conversing with the Government in order to try and secure some financial assistance for the clubs, fans have no date for when they will be back in the stadiums.
Going into the last week Virginia Water had two wins from two and were only off the top of the table on goal difference. Fast forward a week and two defeats in their last two games will have given them a wake-up. A narrow defeat at table-toppers Flackwell Heath on Tuesday was not exactly a disaster but a 2-0 reverse on Saturday at Ardley United, who were yet to pick up a point was a bit more disappointing. Overall the Waters will be happy with their start but a midweek game against landlords Windsor and games coming up against Burnham and Westfields points to a tough run of fixtures.
Ascot are an unpredictable team. Last season they were in pole position for promotion before the impromptu finish and they currently sit on top of the table having chalked up big wins against Molesey (7-1), Colliers Wood United (5-2) and Frimley Green (6-0). So all systems go for another title challenge? Not completely. The Yellamen have 4 wins and 2 defeats from their 6 league games so far with one of those defeats coming at the hands of Camberley Town who have not taken any other points in the league so far.
The other consistency busting defeat came at on Saturday, a 3-0 loss to Hanworth Villa who now sit two points behind them with two games in hand. Many predicted Ascot to win the division this season and gain promotion as a result; they may well still achieve that prize but from what we have seen so far, they may not have things all their own way. The full report is on the Ascot website here.
Wokingham & Emmbrook Ladies
I wrote about the high scoring Berkshire sides in the ‘Good’ section, but someone must be on the other end of those score lines and unfortunately, it was the Sumas who suffered the wrath of Tilehurst Panthers Ladies. Wokingham will have the chance to make amends when they travel to Wargrave Ladies next weekend.