With Christmas fast approaching, we thought it was a good time to stand back and take a look at the season so far in the adult game.
After 3 consecutive league titles and promotions, Hereford FC are now in the National League North, which is proving to be extremely competitive and a step up from last season. The Bulls currently sit 20th in the table but have also progressed through to the 2nd round of the FA Trophy. Hereford FC faced a shock 3-1 defeat in the first round of the HFA County Challenge Cup as they came up against a hugely impressive Westfields FC. Westfields have since booked their place in the semi-finals after beating Wellington 5-3 in a wet but entertaining tie earlier this month. After a disappointing league campaign last season, Westfields are successfully competing at the top end of the table this time round and currently sit 3rd behind Ilkeston Town and Walsall Wood with Coventry Sphinx also hot on their heels with a couple of games in hand. Coach Andy Bevan commented "Taking over from the legacy of 25 years under Sean at Westfields has been incredibly hard, the club is in an exceptional place in terms of sustainability and status, I have tried to bring an attacking style of play to our game and it would be lovely if we could attract a few more local fans as that really pushes every one on that bit further, with the wonderful youth set up at Westfields and throughout the County as a whole the future could be very bright." Bartestree are enjoying their second year in Div 3 and are not only 4th in the table but have made it to the Challenge Vase final where they will take on Central Ajax next March. The club also have their County Cup Quarter Final against Lads Club to look forward to.
In the WMRL Premier Division, Hereford Lads Club are the pick of the Herefordshire teams so far and after establishing themselves in the top tier last season they are currently in 8th on 32 points with games in hand over a number of the teams above them. Assistant Coach Rich Jones is also pleased with their cup progress "We are still involved in two cup competitions in the WMRL premier Cup and the HFA County Cup; we are hoping to get to the final of both of these competitions, the county cup for the third year in a row." Despite a difficult start to their season, Wellington are close behind on 27 points although they have played a couple more games. Coach Gary Stevens is hopeful for a strong second half of the campaign "With several players returning from long-term injuries in the new year we hope to climb up the league. I am looking forward to the second half of the season and hope we can keep players fit and healthy giving us the consistency that we need." Pegasus Jrs youthful squad are currently sitting at the bottom of the table however the gap to the clubs above them is small and they will be hopeful of pulling themselves up the table in the new year. In the County Cup Pegasus are enjoying better form and have overcome Holme Lacy and Clee Hill to reach the semi-finals. In Division 1, Bromyard Town lie in 14th position and were also knocked out by Clee Hill United in the County Cup.
Last season’s HFA Premier Division went right to the wire with Wellington Rangers pipping Westfields FC to the title only on goal difference. The 2018/19 league looks like it will be another closely fought title race with a number of clubs in contention. Wellington Rangers are maintaining their form from last year and are top of the table on 39pts having only dropped 6pts all season. Shropshire new boys Clee Hill are their closest competition currently; by winning their games in hand they would be just 2pts behind Wellington. The two teams face each over for the first time on the 19th January, although they have played each over in the Charity Bowl with Wellington coming out on top 4-3. Clee Hill manager Wayne Whitbread has been enjoying their time in Herefordshire; "It's our first season in the league and we are very happy with the way it is going. We've been impressed by the facilities of all the clubs we have visited. On the pitch results have in the majority gone well although we are disappointed to be out of the cups. Hopefully after Christmas we can continue on good form and enjoy the rest of the season".
Westfields, Ledbury Town and Fownhope will also still have lofty ambitions as they have enjoyed strong starts to the season all with 7 wins a piece. Ewyas Harold or Kingstone Rovers will be the sole County League representative in the HFA County Challenge Cup Semi-Final, they play their QF on the 26th Jan. In the Charity Bowl, Wellington Rangers take on Ledbury Town with Holme Lacy up against newly promoted Kingstone Rovers in the other semi. "We are looking forward to the semi-final in the new year and are hoping for a Holme Lacy final day which has always been a great day out for previous finals" commented team manager Ben Hince "I am looking forward to 2019 and beyond for the club, We are in a strong position on and off the pitch and with a consistent side for both teams we will start to climb up the respective league."
Ludlow Town Colts are flying in Division 1 and remain unbeaten with 8 wins after 9 games. Scott Mackenzie, Ludlow Coach, has been delighted with the progress made by his young squad in just their 3rd season in Div 1. “We hope to continue our impressive form in the new year and continue to push for promotion. There are some tough games ahead but the mood and team spirit within the squad is excellent. Dan Crowther, Dan Griffiths have been contributing goals with 14, 12 and 8 each respectively whilst young defenders Nath Priday and Sol Barker have been tremendous.”
Hinton Reserves are just a point behind but have played more games. Wellington and Orleton are also in touching distance of the top two and will be looking to up the pressure in the second half of the season. Ludlow Town have also reached the Junior Cup semi-final, scoring 15 goals on the way, where they will face Shobdon FC who have had a steady start to life in division 1, with manager Rob Williams saying "After a recruitment drive and taking the plunge of promotion we have had a decent enough start to date, despite drawing a few too many games early on but have now started clicking as a group. The lads are buying into what I want to achieve and this is showing on the pitch." In the other semi-final St Johns Howle Hill take on Ledbury Town Reserves.
Civil Service and Dore Valley are tied at the top of Division 2 on 25 points with CSFC superior goal difference ensuring they are currently sitting top of the table. “Considering the club was at risk of folding during the summer months, this season has seen a dramatic turnaround in our fortunes” commented CSFC manager Paul Cotton. “Despite an opening day loss, we have gone from strength to strength and managed to establish ourselves as contenders. We are fully aware that there is still a long way to go but we will continue to strive towards our ultimate aim of securing promotion.”
The two established clubs are being chased by two brand new teams for the 2018/19 season. Lads Club Colts are just a point behind though and would go top by winning or drawing their game in hand. Weobley are also definite contenders and could also join the two leaders on 25pts by winning their game in hand. Their manager, John Hawkes has been pleased with their performances and has ambitions of promotion; “We have lost a few players so whilst our initial target was a title run, a more realistic target would now be promotion”. Marden, Belmont Rangers and Malvern Vale are also new to the county league and will be greatly encouraged with their debut campaigns so far.
After Herefordshire FA helped both new and existing teams with funding this summer, the Sunday League is back for the 2018/19 season. After 11 fixtures The Lion are 8points ahead of nearest challengers Hereford City Harriers but will be disappointed to have been knocked out of the Sunday Cup in the first round. Colwall Wanderers will take on Credenhill Rangers in the Sunday Cup final. Whitecross and Dorstone, two of the other new County League teams have both managed to pick up some points in their first months of existence, something they can build on moving forwards.Something The Lion Manager John Acaster agrees with "With facing every team 4 times you get to know each team quite well and I'd like to say well done to Whitecross who have improved tremendously after their first few results. "
Herefordshire are represented by three teams again in the Midwest League after Hereford FC started a Women’s team for the first time. Hereford FC have every right to be pleased with their debut campaign, having lost just once and currently sitting on 18pts after 9 games. With the majority of the squad making the jump from U18 football for the first time, manager Scott Russell is encouraged with how they are progressing; “The young players have grown since preseason and are adjusting to senior football better than I thought they would have at this stage. We know teams raise their game against us and we have showed naivety at times this season so Ben, my assistant and I, decided to add a couple of new additions to the squad to freshen things up, add competition and give the squad some much needed experience.” Reigning champions Lads Club are on 18pts too but have played one game fewer, with manager Marcus Jenkins admitting it has been a mixed season "We competed in the Womens FA Cup for the first time which was a great day but came up against a strong Kidderminster Ladies team. However we have faired better in the HFA County Cup and are through to the semi-finals after a convincing 4-1 win against Hereford FC. The league is very different this year with some new teams and it has created a close competition. We have a great team, with every player playing an important role and the coach Clive Powis contributing hugely"
Both teams will be looking to close the gap on current leaders TDMS FC who are currently unbeaten. Bartestree have a new coach this season and are performing well; currently 7th with 5 wins from 10 and despite a pts deduction at the start of the season.
In the development league, Belmont Wanderers have got off to a fantastic start beating last seasons champions Ross and brand new side Tupsley Ladies to sit on top of the table after 2 games. Tupsley were formed just weeks before the season got underway and are already showing encouraging signs states team secretary Kirsty Dodd-Cox. “Our hopes for the second half of the season are to continue having fun whilst playing and to develop more through each game. We have a very promising group of ladies here and are really excited to see where this team can go with the help of Sean (team coach). We would like to credit all the other teams in the league for their respect through our matches so far”.
Herefordshire FA have also ran a Women’s County Cup for the first time in several years, with Ludlow Town invited in to make an even 8 competitors. Hay will host Ludlow Town in one semi-final with Lads Club taking on Bartestree or Ross in the other.
You can read the complete quotes and thoughts from managers across the leagues below. There is still plenty of football to be played and we are looking forward to seeing how all of the local leagues continue to unfold. If you are interested in getting involved with either male or female adult football please get in touch and we will help you find a team!
Managers Views from around the Grounds View League Tables
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