Hammer Time

Westbury United 1 – 4 Shepton Mallet AFC

Saturday 23rd July 2022

Preseason – Friendly

15:00 Kick Off

Meadow Lane, Westbury

Attendance: c100 (estimate)

Cloudy, warm, breezy

Admission: £ FREE


Intro

A successful first season in the Hellenic League Premier Division (after a lateral movement from the Western League) saw Westbury United promoted as runners up, meaning this season they will compete in the Southern League for the first time. An opening couple of months saw them suffer 3 of their eventual 4 defeats of the season failed to suggest that they would win promotion, however a run of 16 games undefeated saw them fly up the table. Poor FA Cup and FA Vase runs would’ve eased fixture congestion, which is not to suggest that the White Horse Men would’ve been happy about their early exits from these competitions. A 4-2 win over Wessex League Christchurch in the Extra-Preliminary Round of the FA Cup showed early promise. However another Dorset team – Hamworthy United – would make the trip to Wiltshire in the next round and come away with the victory. Hamworthy were just getting started on a very successful season – promotion from the Wessex League Premier Division, and coming within a hair’s breadth of a Wembley final only to lose on penalties in the FA Vase semi-finals. There was no such success to be had for Westbury in the FA Vase as they crashed out at the first time of asking at home against Alresford Town. It will be interesting to see how well United adapt to Southern League football in the coming months, with survival surely their initial aim.

Shepton Mallet came a very respectable 6th place in what is becoming a really strong and competitive Western League Premier Division. Now featuring teams from Cornwall, and more from Devon, this League has seen a sharp increase in miles travelled for all teams involved. However, there are plans afoot to restructure the Leagues in the South West in time for the 2023/24 season which should help combat those long hours on the motorway. A strong start to the season saw Shepton keep clean sheets in all 4 of their opening games and pulling off 6-0, 7-0 and 5-0 wins over Cadbury Heath, Bridport (who would end up relegated at the season’s end), and Ashton & Backwell respectively. A decent FA Cup run saw the Somerset side beat Andover New Street after a replay, then knock out Southern League Melksham Town in the Preliminary Round. The reward was a home tie against Taunton Town who, by the end of the season would see themselves promoted to the National Leaugue South after winning the Southern League Premier Division South. Sadly for The Mallet they found The Peacocks in a ruthless mood that day and were convincingly beaten 8-1. In the FA Vase Shepton faced off against a couple of League rivals in the opening rounds: travelling to, and beating Exmouth Town in the 1st Qualifying Round, then hosting Cornish side Mousehole in the next game but coming up short and losing 1-0. Exmouth would be promoted alongside Tavistock at the end of the season; both teams will be coming up against today’s hosts in the impending Southern League season. Will Shepton Mallet be able to improve on last season and really push for promotion? Time will tell.

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