League programmes make way as cups take centre stage – Sent Her Forward looks ahead to the top ties
It’s another big cup weekend around the South East, with second-round county-cup ties in Hampshire, Sussex, Kent and Surrey.
Only the FAW Premier Reserves League has anything like a full programme – although the fixture lists around the region are likely to be flooded with postponements, just like many of its pitches.
In Kent and Sussex, the second round is just two games from the final, while in Hampshire and Surrey there are still three hurdles to overcome.
The following previews are based on the fixtures scheduled at the time of writing. Many are likely to be postponed because of the weather. Check with clubs for latest details.
Kent County Cup
Cup holders Gillingham are at Parkwood Rangers, with both sides looking for an upturn in fortunes after excellent campaigns last season.
Premier League Gills are at the wrong end of the table as they endure a season of rebuilding after the summer exodus, led by manager James Marrs.
They visit Bexley, where Parkwood Rangers are currently finding the Premier Division of the South East Counties Women’s League a little tougher than they did last time around.
Having missed out on promotion by just a point in their first season in the league, Parkwood are currently seventh, just two points off the bottom, having lost a few key players since last season.
Their opponents may be three levels above them, but they are currently third-to-bottom of the Premier League, while their second string are in a similar position in the Reserves League.
Sent Her Forward prediction: The Gills – but not without a fright
Aylesford v Charlton Athletic Development
The London & South East Regional Women’s League side are enjoying their best spell of a traumatic first season in the division, but they face a team in great form and – like their senior side – full of goals.
Aylesford put out Gillingham’s reserves in the last round, but may find a buoyant Charlton a bit tougher.
Sent Her Forward prediction: Charlton to progress
Herne Bay v Dartford Royals
In their debut season in the competition, Herne Bay are among the favourites for the trophy. And why not? They’ve won virtually every competition they’ve entered at the first time of asking.
They suffered their first setback three weeks ago when they could only draw with Meridian in the South East Counties Women’s League Premier Division. But they have responded well with big FAW Cup and League Cup wins, while their opponents, Dartford, have taken advantage of their absence from league action to move to the top of the division.
Sent Her Forward prediction: Dartford would have to be at their best to stop the Herne Bay juggernaut
Maidstone United v London Corinthians
Entrenched next to each other in the London & South East league, the pair have yet to face each other in league action. Corinthians have beeen in decent form, especially in the cups. Maidstone have been inconsistent.
Sent Her Forward prediction: Corinthians to triumph
Sussex Challenge Cup
The much-awaited clash between Premier League pair Lewes and Brighton has turned into a damp squib, with the home side conceding the game and handing their fierce rivals a free path to the semi-final.
Neither club has yet responded to Sent Her Forward’s enquiries about the circumstances.
That leaves cup holders Chichester City the highest-profile team in action. They are due to visit Eastbourne Town, one tier below them, subject to the weather.
Chichester have had a stop-start season in the newly designated FAW Premier League Division One South West, and are currently in mid-table.
Eastbourne have fared even worse in the London & South East Counties Regional League, currently sitting two off the bottom. But they have done better in cup competitions and should be totally committed to creating a cup upset in East Sussex.
Sent Her Forward prediction: Chichester to get a shock but pull through in the end
Adur Athletic v Hassocks
A year ago these two clubs were separated by two divisions, but they are currently just 17 places apart, with Adur now comfortably ensconced in mid-table in the SECWL Division One West following promotion from the county league, while their opponents have picked up just one point in eight league games and are bottom of the London & South East Regional Women’s League.
Sent Her Forward prediction: More misery for Hassocks
Rottingdean Village v Seahaven Harriers
Rottingdean are the team Adur pipped to promotion last season, and they are well placed for a fresh assault on the Sussex County League title this time around.
But Seahaven are enjoying a magnificent season, full of goals and victories. If it was not for Worthing Minors’ even better start, they would be clear at the top of SECWL Division One West.
The pair are due to meet in just over a week’s time.
Sent Her Forward prediction: Seahaven to travel to Worthing as county cup semi-finalists
Hampshire County Cup
Holders Portsmouth will no doubt give several of their development side first-team action at AFC Boscombe, but will still prove far too strong for the Hampshire Division One side.
University of Portsmouth, the team they beat in last season’s final, face second-round elimination at the hands of in-form Southampton Saints, currently vying for promotion to the FAW Premier League Southern.
Another cup upset could be on the cards at Privett Park, where Gosport Borough are due to host Fleet Town, currently two divisions below them.
But with Gosport’s goalkeeper, Gemma Needham, back after a long-term injury, and a couple of players returning from lengthy absences, the match represents a perfect opportunity for Borough to chalk up their first competitive win of the season.
Surrey County Cup
South Park, Carshalton Athletic and AFC Wimbledon should all be confident of home victories over Beecholme Belles, Guildford Saints and Crawley Wasps respectively to make the quarter-finals.
FAW Premier League
Weather permitting, Cardiff City could go back to the top of the Premier League Southern on Sunday. The eagerly awaited clash of the league’s top two goalscorers is one of only two fixtures scheduled, and after Cardiff were left kicking their heels last weekend as Brighton leapfrogged them, it could be the Welsh side’s turn to do the same when they host Charlton Athletic.
However, their visitors, whose match last Sunday was also called off, will be determined to restate their own title credentials after falling to a big defeat at Brighton the last time they played.
Charlton are still the division’s top scorers, with 38 in 10 games; Cardiff are four goals behind from a game fewer.
West Ham United would rise one place to fifth with a draw at home to Queens Park Rangers.
FAW Premier Reserves League
Leaders West Ham visit third-placed Brighton in the match of the day in the division, while bottom club Lewes could rise three places with victory over Bedford.
Chichester City are scheduled to play Crystal Palace (and have booked a 3G pitch just in case), and Gillingham host C&K Basildon.
London & South East Regional Women’s League
Only two league fixtures remain, with most of the division in action in their respective county cups.
Leaders Fulham Foundation are at home to mid-table KIKK United. Old Actonians, currently their closest rivals, visit Bexhill United, whom they beat 7-0 earlier in the season.
South East Counties Women’s League
Two fixtures, too, in the Premier Division, with Crockenhill due to host Meridian in the reverse of last week’s fixture, which was handed to Meridian.
A draw would put them top, with leaders Dartford and third-placed Herne Bay playing each other in the Kent Cup.
Eastbourne have the chance to jump into the comfort of mid-table when they host Long Lane.
Division One West
Eighth meet ninth in the only game scheduled in the division. Worthing Town and their visitors, Bexhill United Reserves, have each won just once so far this season.
Kent FA Plate
All Kent’s league matches make way for the county cup and plate competitions.
Pick of the plate ties are Division One East promotion rivals Thanet Colts v Prince of Wales and fellow Division One side Castle Colts – who have won only one game all season – against Long Lane Reserves, the runaway leaders of the Kent Division.
Sussex County Women & Girls Football League
Lancing will look to bounce back from their first ever defeat when they host Jarvis Brook.
Lancing had won their first three games in the stop-start opening to their inaugural season, but lost 4-3 to Crawley Wasps last Sunday to go tumbling down the table. Victory would put them third with games in hand of both sides above them.
At the other end of the division, Henfield, with just one win in six, host Predators, who have won just one point in five games.
Leaders Southdown are due to host third-placed Hawks Youth Withdean, weather permitting.
Surrey County Women & Girls Football League
Crawley Town, who lead the division, are due to host Crystal Palace, the league’s only unbeaten side, who are two points behind with two games in hand.
Horsham Sparrows, who are bottom, are due to visit Wealdstone.
Hampshire FA Intermediate Cup
Portsmouth Under-18s are due to host Bournemouth.