The latest in the Bostik South Central Division
Last summer the fabric of non-league football change forever following a complicated restructure. Locally, the Isthmian League saw some of the biggest changes. A new division, the South Central, was created alongside the North and South East at Step Four. Four local sides, Cheshunt, Hertford Town, Waltham Abbey, and Ware, were moved from the North Division to the new league. They were also joined by Cheshunt’s ground-sharers FC Romania who came up from the Essex Senior League following the trickle down effect of a team moving levels in Yorkshire.
It’s been a pretty eventful season for all five sides as they’ve recalibrated their sat-navs from Essex and Suffolk to Middlesex, Bucks, and Berkshire. The new division has been a bit of a precession for Hayes & Yeading United who are currently 12 points clear at the top having scored an incredible 97 goals in 24 league games. A chance at promotion via the complicated play-offs that will come down to points per game is realistically the best our local sides can hope for, so let’s see how they’ve been getting on.
The Ambers have arguably been the most consistent of our local sides in the division this year. They’re currently the only one in the playoff positions and have been keeping pace with the rest of the chasing pack behind Hayes & Yeading all season. Cheshunt have been in great form over the past couple of months. They’ve only lost once since 24 November. This run has included a win over Ware and a draw with Hertford Town.
They’re only defeat, however, came in their last game against their tenants FC Romania. The Wolves overcame their landlords 3-2 in a topsy turvy game. The Ambers have a tough few games coming up as they face runaway leaders Hayes & Yeading in their next game and also welcome local rivals Waltham Abbey to Theobalds lane later this month. The result of that game could go a long way to deciding if one of our local clubs will make the playoffs.
The Abbots endured a tough season at Capershotts in the Bostik North last season. Things looked to be on the up in the summer though as Mark Stimson took over as manager. They started the season with seven league wins in eight games including victories over Cheshunt, Hertford, and Hayes & Yeading. Stimson’s name, however, soon caught the eye of Bostik Premier club AFC Hornchurch and he was tempted away from Waltham Abbey.
The new management team of Billy Holland and Michael Spencer struggled a little, to begin with as the Abbots went winless in November. They’ve managed to steady the ship, however, and Waltham Abbey are now just one place outside the playoff positions. Upcoming games against two sides above them, Bracknell Town and Cheshunt, could prove pivotal to the Abbots promotion hopes.
The Blues were another side that had an unhappy time in the Bostik North last season, finishing one place behind Waltham Abbey in 20th. They have also turned it around this season, however, under the management of Paul Halsey. Ware have only lost two games since a 3 November defeat to Hayes & Yeading, a run that includes victories over Waltham Abbey, local rivals Hertford and a stunning 7-2 win over promotion chasers Bracknell Town.
The Blues are currently three points behind Waltham Abbey and three places of the promotion spots. If their form continues until the spring they could well join the ranks of the playoff-chasing teams. Their immediate fixture list looks relatively promising but they face a tough run-in with games against Waltham Abbey and second place Marlow at the end of April.
Surprisingly, Hertford have struggled a little this season to replicate their comfortable mid-table finish in the Bostik North Division last season. They lost 3-0 to local rivals Ware last week during a period of upheaval for the club. Gavi Kelsey resigned as manager last week and was replaced by former Welwyn Garden City manager Adam Fisher who began the rebuilding process straight away making a whole squad’s worth of signings.
The Blues are currently in 16th place in the league but with a nine-point cushion over the relegation places. It will hopefully be enough of a gap to allow their new recruits time to settle and eventually lift them up the league. They’ve only won once since early December but have a couple of winnable games coming up if the squad can gel.
Promotion was somewhat of a surprise for the Wolves who finished third in the Essex Senior League last season. They’ve done well so far, keeping their heads above water. Last week’s win over Cheshunt surely being the highlight of a season where they’ve shown plenty of battling qualities.
They are currently in 17th place, behind Hertford Town on goal difference. Keeping the goals out has been a bit of a problem for the Wolves this season but their attractive style of play has won plenty of fans. FC Romania don’t have to play any of the promotion-chasing teams for the rest of this month, so have a chance to build on their win over the Ambers and lift themselves a few places up the table.
Local football headlines
Leyton Orient progressed to the next round of the FA Trophy after a 1-0 victory over Blyth Spartans last weekend. Dagenham & Redbridge were due to be in National League action but their visit to Maidenhead was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
Haringey Borough had an eventful week coming back from a goal down to beat Brightlingsea Regent at Coles Park on Monday night. Two days prior they’d been two goals up over Burgess Hill only to go 4-2 down and then pull it back to 4-4 late on. They’re now three points behind Dorking Wanderers at the top.
Bowers & Pitsea have maintained their stranglehold on the Bostik North Division. Romford and Barking both failed to score this week. The former lost 2-0 to Aveley on Monday while the latter drew 0-0 away at in-form Tilbury.
The Essex Senior League was heavily affected by the weather this week with only four games going ahead. Woodford Town got back to winning ways by beating Barkingside on Tuesday while Walthamstow had a man sent off as they lost 2-1 to fellow promotion chasers Hullbridge Sports.
Local football fixturesL
League fixture unless stated
Saturday 9 February
Hartlepool United v Leyton Orient
Wrexham v Dagenham & Redbridge
Carshalton Athletic v Haringey Borough
Enfield Town v Burgess Hill
Wingate & Finchley v Whitehawk
Coggeshall Town v Romford
Dereham Town v Barking
FC Romania v Bedfont Sports
Hayes & Yeading v Cheshunt
Hertford Town v Ashford Town
South Park v Ware
Waltham Abbey v Bracknell Town
Clapton v Woodford Town
Ilford v Sawbridgeworth Town
Redbridge v Hoddesdon Town
Sporting Bengal United v Tower Hamlets
St Margaretsbury v Leyton Athletic
Takeley v Enfield FC
Walthamstow v Stansted
West Essex v Barkingside
Tuesday 12 February
Enfield Town v Bishop’s Stortford – Velocity Trophy
Wednesday 6 February
Wingate & Finchley v Tonbridge Angels
Walthamstow v Enfield FC