South West Regional Women’s League – Premier Division
14:00 Kick Off
Weymouth Street, Warminster
Overcast and mild
Full Photo Gallery
I was supposed to be going to an FA Vase game on Saturday but had to change my plans at the last minute. Every cloud has a silver lining, as they say, and I was long overdue a visit to a women’s game of football. This was the perfect opportunity to tick that off my list and also to revisit Weymouth Street. I was last there for a pre-season friendly between Warminster Town men’s team and Bemerton Heath Harlequins in 2019.
Warminster Ladies were promoted from the Eastern Division of this League last season, and today was their first home game of this campaign. Getting off to a tough start, Warminster lost the opening game 6-0 away at Ilminster Town who finished in second place last season. Another away trip followed, this time down in Somerset against Bishops Lydeard. And Warminster secured their first 3 points of the season with a 2-1 victory.
Last season saw Rovers finish top of the Northern Division, winning all but 2 games and conceding only 12 goals. The first game of the season sounds like an incredible match with the Gas Girls putting 6 past Royal Wootton Bassett, but also letting in 4. At home last weekend they lost narrowly 2-1 to Forest Green Rovers.
8 games into the season, Keynsham Town sit in an impressive 3rd position in the Western League Premier Division, although they have played more games than the majority of the teams in the league. Opening with two 3-0 victories – at home to league newcomers Ashton & Backwell, and away to Brislington – the K’s then travelled to Tring in the FA Cup where they found themselves on the end of another 3-0 result! An away win at Cadbury Heath was then followed by a relative rough patch including defeat to Cornish side Helston who have this season moved into the Western League from the South West Peninsula League. 3 consecutive draws came next including 2 in the space of four days against Shepton Mallet. Bank Holiday Monday saw a return to form as Keynsham thrashed early strugglers Bridport 6-2. Saturday saw Town travel south to Street; a 1-1 was the result and enough to push The K’s up to 3rd spot coming into this match.
The Seasiders of Clevedon Town have had a somewhat tougher start to the 21/22 season, with just one victory to their name so far – a decent 4-2 away win against Brislington. The FA Cup saw Clevedon lose heavily – 6-1 – away at the Hellenic League’s Bishops Cleeve. This defeat came after a pair of 2-2 draws: away at Exmouth on the opening day of the season, and at home to Cadbury Heath 4 days later. Mid-August had Clevedon lose 2 home games in quick succession as they faced former South West Peninsula League side Saltash United and then high-flyers Bitton. The Seasiders succumbed 1-2 and 1-3 respectively. The aformentioned win over Brislington stopped the rot and then on Bank Holiday Monday Clevedon travelled to Wellington where they played out another 2-2 tie. Clevedon then hosted winless Ashton & Backwell on Saturday, hoping to earn another 3 points. The final score was 3-2 to United leaving Clevedon in 14th position.
Westbury United 0 – 2 Binfield FC FA Cup – Extra Preliminary Round Tuesday 1st September 2020 Meadow Lane, Westbury (view on map) Attendance: 93 Admission: £6
The Season So Far:
Being the first competitive match of both of these teams’ seasons we only have the abandoned 2019/20 season, and this summer’s preseason friendlies to talk about. The away side – travelling to Wiltshire from Berkshire for this game – compete at the same level as Westbury, albeit in the Hellenic Premier Division. When last season was halted Binfield were 2nd in the league, 13 points behind Westfields but with 4 games in hand over the leaders. Their final friendly resulted in a 1-1 draw at home to Beaconsfield Town of the Southern League Premier South; surely a morale boosting result for The Moles. Prior to that they won all but one of their warm-up games so should go into this FA Cup match full of confidence.
The hosts, who finished 12th last season in the Western League Premier Division, played their final friendly the day after today’s opponents’. Travelling to Badshot Lea, the Whitehorse Men found themselves at the wrong end of a 2-1 final score. The rest of their preseason was a bit of a mixed bag – losing to Longwell Green and Calne Town of the league below, but defeating Portland United, Radstock Town and Wiltshire neighbours Warminster Town. A 2-2 draw with Southern League Willand Rovers completed their preseason fixture list.
Swindon Town 2 – 0 Cambridge United League 2 Saturday 30th September 2017 The County Ground, Swindon Attendance: 5,847
I was shocked when I worked out that it had been 5 years since I last went to a professional football league match. Back in 2012 it was FC Kobenhavn v Silkeborg in the Danish Superliga. Given payday was a couple of days ago it seemed like a good time to refamiliarise myself with the luxuries of league football – names on the backs of shirts, electronic scoreboards, faces familiar from the TV… Swindon seemed like the easiest to get to – a half hour train ride from Bath and then a 10 minute walk to the ground. I bought my ticket (online of all things!) and chose to sit in the Don Rogers stand, opposite the dug outs and the away supporters.
As I exited the station and made my way through central Swindon, it surprised me how multicultural the place is – Polish shops, Turkish barbers – I could have been in central London. Surprisingly The County Ground isn’t really visible until you round the last corner at which point a classic football league ground comes into sight. The four ‘proper’ floodlights and four separate stands each one distinctive from the other three. A top flight stadium for a period in the 90s, it would look rather out of place in today’s Premier League if truth be told. For me, though, this is a positive thing. Grounds like this, with their individuality are all too few and far between.
I managed to navigate to my seat with uncharacteristic ease via the electronic ticket scanner gizmo. My seat offered a decent view of the pitch and three of the stands – one of which was completely empty, unsurprising really given that the ground was only one-third full (or two-thirds empty, depending on your outlook on life!). The visitors started the brightest with a couple of early corners. This was until Amine Linganzi took aim from distance. Visiting keeper David Forde in his immaculate all-white kit parried away. The ball was dinked back into the box and eventually found Crystal Palace loanee Keshi Anderson who found the back of the net. Other than a hopeful penalty shout, Cambridge offered little going forward in the first half.
The second half saw United looking rather more dangerous but couldn’t really carve out anything more than a handful of half chances, giving Swindon’s Chilean goalkeeper Vigouroux the opportunity to fall on the ball each time. On the hour mark, Robins striker Luke Norris fell awkwardly, injuring his shoulder. Swindon lost their imposing frontman but gained 11 pantomine villains as Cambridge refused to kick the ball out of play as Norris struggled back to his feet. He was replaced by the even taller Harry Smith. United’s best chance came when Uche Ikpeazu’s header looped over Vigouroux but hit the bar and fell kindly for the keeper. Substitute Smith put the game out of sight in the dying minutes as Anderson turned provider, sliding a ball in for Smith to finish well.
In truth it was not a great game, but I enjoyed the experience of League football after having become rather accustomed to the more modest surroundings of the National League South and below.
Odd Down AFC 0 – 5 Weymouth FC FA Cup – 1st Qualifying Round Saturday 2nd September 2017 Lew Hill Memorial Ground, Bath Attendance: 190
For those who are not familiar with the geography of Bath, Odd Down lies high up to the south of the city. The eponymous football club is flanked by a secondary school and a park and ride. Currently playing in the Western League Premier today they faced a Weymouth side two divisions higher and currently unbeaten at home this season. The home side however did beat higher opposition in the previous round so would likely go into this match confident that an upset was possible. Weymouth had brought a decent amount of fans with them up from Dorset though the crowd was smaller than I had imagined, particularly given the sunshine was present for large parts of the afternoon.
A chance for either side within the opening 2 minutes – Weymouth hitting the post for theirs – suggested that we would not be in for a bore draw today. Around the quarter hour mark Weymouth’s Antonio Diaz seemed certain to score but didn’t connect properly with a cross into the box. Shortly after, the home side laid claim to a penalty that was not forthcoming. I was quite a distance from the incident, but the Odd Down players seemed convinced that their player was impeded unfairly in the area. Then dangerous Diaz was causing problems for the home defence and a left footed shot from him was parried away from danger by Ed Baldy in the Odd Down goal. The visitors were starting to pile on the pressure and on 28 minutes they hit the post again with the follow up ending up in Baldy’s grateful arms. The home defence were putting their bodies on the line with shot after shot coming in, mainly from outside the penalty box. The goal came on 37 minutes but not before Weymouth hit the woodwork for a third time – albeit via an offside forward. A corner was partially cleared but only as far as Ben Thomson who shot through a crowd of players and into the bottom corner. Just before half time Odd Down’s Asa White made a good interception and hit a first time shot just wide.
Less than 5 minutes into the second half the away team doubled their lead. Thomson’s shot spun off a defender, falling kindly for strike partner Harry Baker who struck a sweet shot into the top corner. 2 minutes later Baker shot again but this time it was too high. The Odd Down players found a new energy in trying to find a way back into the game, however much of this energy was misplaced and a couple of players were lucky to escape being booked. A double substitution looked to shake things up a bit. Kye Simpson made a good run and looked to play in White but they were not on the same wavelength. The Down’s Dave Gould – one of the pair lucky not to be booked earlier on – made a couple of late challenges and was sent for an early bath leaving his team mates to battle on for a little over 15 minutes a man short. The free kick awarded for the sending off fooled the defence who were expecting a shot on goal. Instead Baldy pulled off a great save after a Weymouth forward was played in on goal. Down the other end, Kye Simpson finally made the visiting keeper Nick Thomas earn his keep. A cross from Ash McGrane was met well enough by Simpson but Thomas was equal to it. Fellow substitute Adam Bouchama had an opportunity to pull one back but mishit his shot when well placed. Weymouth weathered the storm and with 12 minutes remaining put the game to bed. Baker’s low shot may have taken a deflection on its way to goal but they all count. Visiting captain Jake McCarthy wanted in on the goals and struck a shot from 30 yards, but Baldy got across to turn it behind with the save of the match. McCarthy would not be denied 3 minutes later, however, and he found the top corner when he was one of several Weymouth players queuing up in the box. Deep into injury time, Baker grabbed his hattrick and put a gloss on the scoreline. Another low finish just about crept into the bottom corner when it appeared to be going wide.
Weymouth will be pleased with their performance and to avoid a potential banana skin, while Odd Down can be pleased with their first half performance. As it was, the visitor’s quality shone through and they go on into the next round leaving The Down to concentrate on other matters. A trip to the Lew Hill Memorial Ground is highly recommended – a great clubhouse serving food and drink seemed popular before the game as well as at half time. Inside the ground is a seated stand facing the dugouts. There is further cover at the near side goal end. Behind the far goal is a large grassy area which must be ‘interesting’ in less clement weather! So overall I had a great time at my 2nd FA Cup match of the season and look forward to my next visit.
Longwell Green Sports 2 – 3 Ivybridge Town (AET) FA Vase – 2nd Qualifying Round Saturday 23rd September 2017 Shellards Road, Bristol Attendance: 58
Until recently, Longwell Green was just somewhere you would go to go bowling or to go to the big Asda. Located a stones throw from Bitton, Longwell Green is in the far reaches of the sprawling south eastern Bristol suburbs. Shellards Road is just off the main road into Bristol and offers superb views of the surrounding countryside. In all honesty the ground itself is somewhat overshadowed by its surroundings – on the near side is a small seated stand, right next door to a covered standing area. The remaining edges of the pitch are just afforded a low railing. The home side came into this having only scored 3 goals in all competitions and rock bottom of the Western League Premier division. Their Devonian visitors from a step below are managed by former Blackburn Rovers defender Nicky Marker, for whom Kenny Dalglish once paid half a million pounds.
Sherborne Town 0 – 3 Warminster Town Western League – Division One Saturday 28th September 2019 Raleigh Grove, Sherborne Attendance: 80
The Season So Far:
Both sides came into this clash off the back of defeats. Sherborne crashing out of the league’s Les Phillips cup after a home loss to Radstock Town; while the visiting Maltmen lost at home in the league to Hengrove Athletic. Overall, though, the hosts have had the better start to the season, lying 6th in the league compared to Warminster’s 15th. Away from the league, the Zebras’ FA Vase campaign was cut short after a replay loss to Petersfield Town. Warminster march on after beating Alresford Town in the same round, and will face East Cowes Victoria in the 1st Round Proper. So to summarise – a mixed bag for both sides which would suggest the result of today’s meeting is anyone’s guess!
Pewsey Vale 1 – 4 Newport IOW Wessex League – Division One Saturday 7th September 2019 The Recreation Ground, Pewsey Attendance: 55
The Season So Far:
It would be fair to say that Pewsey Vale haven’t had the best of starts to the season. After having made the switch from the Hellenic league prior to this season, a period of transition could be expected and they’ll see today as another opportunity to turn things around. 5 league games and just a single point gained, plus a home loss to league rivals Laverstock and Ford in the FA Vase last weekend goes to show that life in the Wessex leagues won’t be easy.
As for the visitors from across the Solent; well they sit 5th but have played more games than anyone else in the league. 3 wins, 3 losses and a draw suggest that they haven’t found the consistency they will be looking for in order to go one better and challenge for promotion to the Premier Division this season. The current ground share situation with fellow Islanders East Cowes Victoria may prove to be an extra challenge for Newport.
I’m typing this still reeling from my return to work after a week in Spain. My holiday, while I don’t want to seem ungrateful, got in the way of at least three match days – i’ll be the first to admit this was poorly planned. Anyway, now that is out of the way with, I can focus on important things like football.