Let’s have a closer look at the Bostik North Divsion…
At about 8.30pm on Wednesday, five minutes before half time, it looked as though Aveley were going to lose ground on league leaders Bowers & Pitsea. Grays Athletic had gone 3-1 up in the Parkside, landlords versus tenants, derby. The Millers, however, pulled a goal back a few minutes later, then scored two unanswered goals in the second half to complete a memorable come back and a 4-3 win. It meant they moved up to second, four points behind Bowers with a game in hand.
The next team to visit Parkside will be Bowers & Pitsea as the top two go head-to-head this weekend. It’s the first game in a series of fixtures between the current top three sides in what is shaping up to be a four-team battle at the top of the Bostik North Division. If like me, you’re a fan of the Bostik North there is no better time to get down to a game. Here’s a look at how the top four have been getting on this season:
Bowers & Pitsea – the leaders
Bowers have been the team to beat for the majority of the season. They’re unbeaten at home, have the best defence (only 16 conceded in 22 games), and are the equal top scorers in the Bostik North. Bowers got out of the traps quickly and were unbeaten in all comps going into the second month of the season. Their first test was the visit of Aveley. It was a thrilling 3-3 draw. They then had a minor slump as cup games came thick and fast. Bowers recovered, however, and remained unbeaten in the league until 17 November when they lost to Brentwood. Their only other league loss was to Heybridge at the turn of the year, but they’ve maintained their position at the front of the pack.
Aveley – the chasers
The Millers have been on Bowers’ tail all season. Their first step towards a title challenge was the summer transfer coup of Andrew Freeman from Concorde Rangers. He’s starred in Aveley’s attack and helped them match Bowers’ goal tally of 46, with one fewer game played. Just like their rivals, they are also unbeaten at home. The Millers lost twice in the league in September, but then went unbeaten until 15 December when they lost to in-form local rivals, Tilbury. They’ve conceded 13 more goals than Bowers so far but have shown they have the knack of beating their top four rivals.
How have the top four faired against each other?
|Bowers & Pitsea||3||0||2||1||2|
|Maldon & Tiptree||4||1||2||1||5|
Remaining top four fixtures:
26 Jan – Aveley v Bowers & Pitsea
9 Feb – Aveley v Maldon & Tiptree
16 Feb – Maldon & Tiptree v Bowers & Pitsea
13 Apr – Heybridge Swifts v Aveley
20 Apr – Bowers & Pitsea v Heybridge Swifts
Maldon & Tiptree – the outsiders
The Jammers may not have been as fancied as the other three sides this season despite consistent performances in the Bostik North over recent years. They have, however, won plenty of admirers on their travels. They boast the league’s only unbeaten away record. They’ve only conceded 11 times on the road. Home form has been a little more inconsistent, however, as they’ve lost on four occasions on home turf. The Jammers have only lost once in the league since mid-October, and they have scored 11 goals in three games already this year.
Heybridge Swifts – the favourites
The Swifts were my, and many people’s, tip for the title this year, but they started poorly. Manager Jody Brown resigned in September as they experienced a hangover from last season’s cup successes and playing approximately 756 games. Julian Dicks came in and Heybridge haven’t looked back. Dicks’ side have only lost twice in the league since he took over although they did lose their last outing to Soham Town Rangers. Swifts don’t play another top four side until April, so they’re in a great spot to take advantage in the next few weeks as the sides above them potentially drop points against each other.
The rest of the Bostik North
Coggeshall United are currently in promotion no man’s land as they occupy the final play-off place. They are five points behind the Swifts and five points behind AFC Sudbury. You also wouldn’t bet against sides like Canvey Island, Grays Athletic, and the rapidly improving Tilbury putting runs together to challenge the promotion places but the top four have been relatively stable for a few weeks now. Local football favourites Barking are holding their own in midtable with the equal third best defence in the league while Romford are currently in the bottom two.
Local football headlines
Haringey Borough struck late to stay top of the Bostik Premier Division. Dorking Wanderers won in midweek to keep the pressure on the leaders in what is now looking like it could quickly become a two horse race.
Cheshunt drew away with Bracknell Town in the Bostik South Central to remain in the playoff positions. Waltham Abbey arrested their recent slide with a 2-1 home win against Egham Town, they’re now just one place outside the playoff spots.
Barkingside drew with top of the table Stansted in the Essex Senior League while Walthamstow got back to winning ways and Redbridge continue to improve.
Orient stay top of the National League albeit just on goal difference after they lost away at Ebbsfleet. Solihull Moors are now level on points with them. Dagenham & Redbridge won again, away at struggling Maidstone.
Local football fixtures
League fixture unless stated
Friday 25 January
Woodford Town v Sporting Bengal United
Saturday 26 January
Dagenham & Redbridge v Aldershot Town
Leyton Orient v Maidstone United
Tonbridge Angels v Haringey Borough
Wingate & Finchley v Brightlingsea Regent
Worthing v Enfield
Romford v Bury Town
Witham Town v Barking
Cheshunt v Molesey
Chipstead v FC Romania
Egham Town v Ware
Uxbridge v Waltham Abbey
Barkingside v Sawbridgeworth Town
Clapton v Takeley
Saffron Walden Town v Leyton Athletic
Southend Manor v Ilford
Tower Hamlets v Hullbridge Sports
Walthamstow v Redbridge
West Essex v Enfield FC
Monday 28 January
Barkingside v Redbridge
Tuesday 29 January
Aveley v Barking
Enfield FC v Saffron Walden Town
Wednesday 30 January
Romford v Bowers & Pitsea
Walthamstow v Stanway Rovers