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This dedicated page updates daily to provide coverage on all things football in Gloucestershire, written by our Sports Journalist, Simon Parkinson.


Something big happening at your club that needs to be shouted about? Have an upcoming event that would benefit from more coverage? 

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Whitelow on Intermediate treble trail to propel lethal Leckhampton past Lydbrook

MARTIN Whitelow was a delighted hat-trick man, for Cheltenham League Two’s freescoring outfit Leckhampton Rovers, as they eased into round two of the GFA Intermediate North Cup, writes Simon Parkinson.

They did so courtesy of a 5-0 victory at North Gloucestershire League Division One hosts Lydbrook Athletic Reserves, where Glenn Hozier also weighed in with a brace.

Windyridge Rovers, also of Cheltenham Two, themselves paved a safe path to the second round thanks to a 4-1 away defeat of Bourton Rovers Thirds in which Kian Gardiner, David Keylock and Keafan Portbury chipped in.

There were closer contests on show at the first stage of the Intermediate North tournament, including the one at Brockworth Albion Reserves where Kyle Rogers’ pair and Darren Batchford’s effort saw them to a 3-1 home win over Upton St Leonards Reserves, the Stroud Two battlers replying with a Brett Salvage consolation.

Brandon Leach was also at the double, for Broadwell Amateurs A, and Brennan Baldwin and Steve Belfitt also notched as they secured a 4-2 win at North Glos One rivals Mitcheldean, whose Damon Beaumont and Martin Turner registered.

North Glos One’s unbeaten early pacesetters Milkwall took that form on to the county cup stage as goals for Joseph Clark and Julian Saunders on their travels put paid to league compatriots Staunton & Corse Reserves’ hopes for another year thanks to a 2-0 win.

The tie at Bailey Hill was particularly tight and competitive where hosts Yorkley, enjoying higher Division One status in North Glos One following last season’s elevation, scored through Matthew Remnant in normal time but had to settle for a shoot-out scenario as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Stroud Division Three guests Hardwicke A, whose Craig Harris netted.

It all worked out well for Yorkley in the end as a 5-4 win from the spot saw them through.

Fintan also advanced, despite their early difficulties in Cheltenham League’s second tier.

They cast all that behind them as Lee Hitchman’s brace proved enough to overcome North Glos One strugglers English Bicknor Reserves 2-0.

Keep up to date with all GFA Intermediate Cup results and fixtures by visiting the Cups and Competitions section of our website.

Wessex Wanderers star Lyn ‘so blessed’ to receive GFA 21-year service gong

LOYAL secretary Lyn Hughes reflected on the “shock” of being presented with a Gloucestershire FA 21 Years’ Service Award and beamed: “I feel so blessed,” writes Simon Parkinson.

Lyn was handed the accolade for her hard work and devotion behind the scenes with Bristol and Suburban League club Wessex Wanderers by GFA chairman Roger Burden at a recent council meeting held at the association’s Oaklands Park base in Almondsbury.

And she admits the moment she was called forward to receive her accolade, however out of the blue it came, was certainly one to savour.

She confessed: “I was so shocked to get the award. Tom Trimble, our first team manager, arranged for me to be at the meeting to collect this prestigious award, without actually letting me know it was happening. I thought I was there as support for him!

“I felt VERY honoured to receive such a beautiful award and I was surprised too that someone had recognised the number of years I’d served at this fantastic club. Afterwards I couldn’t help but feel that I’d been rewarded for having the best time ever!

“I feel so blessed but I love every minute of my involvement with the club and they’re wonderful lads.

“I hope to continue on and on in grassroots football and with the same happy heart.” 

Asked how she first became involved with Wanderers more than two decades ago now, Lyn replied: “It actually started before Wessex came along. My youngest son Darren was a friend of Will Moody-Grant, whose father Jack was running an under-12 team called Bedminster Youth Enterprise.

“As my husband Ray wasn’t very keen on football and both my sons, Craig and Darren, wanted to play, I took them along to the team.

“Jack was doing an amazing job but looked a bit harassed, so I asked if there was anything I could do to help out. He was so pleased; he passed all the books and fixtures over, and speedily so too, and that meant he was able to concentrate more on running the team.

“From then onwards we became great friends and decided together, as the lads were now coming up to 16, to change the name of the club to Wessex Wanderers.”

Lyn continued with the familiar enthusiasm club members have come to love: “I found I really enjoyed football and seeing the lads grow and their skills improve.

“To be part of something so joyous, I felt I could actually be of help to them, whether it be through a lift to the game or first aid, or maybe a shoulder to cry on if things didn’t go so well in the game or in their private lives. I just felt happy to help in any way. 

“The reason I have continued on for all this time is simple: the people at the club, past and present, make me feel so welcome and it’s like being in a family.

“It’s such a wonderful feeling, looking forward to every game and seeing such great people.” 

  • Coming up: Wessex Wanderers target Suburban League Premier Two promotion – and a potential crack at County League football.

Why super secretary Lyn is ‘100 per cent irreplaceable’ at Wessex Wanderers

WESSEX Wanderers manager Tom Trimble surveyed a prestigious accolade handed to “club mum” Lyn Hughes and insisted: “She is 100 per cent irreplaceable,” writes Simon Parkinson.

Dedicated and loyal secretary Lyn was recently the proud recipient of a Gloucestershire FA 21 Years’ Service to Football Award as a big acknowledgement of her full-on involvement with the South Bristol Sports Centre-based club located on Brislington’s West Town Lane over that same 21-year period since the club’s inception.

Tom, who leads Wanderers’ first team into weekly Bristol and Suburban League Premier Two combat as part of a thriving set-up that also parades a Division Three second-string competitor, enthused: “It’s unbelievable and fantastic that she’s been our secretary since the very start of our existence under the Wessex name.

Lyn Hughes receiving a reward for 21 years of service from Gloucestershire FA Chairman Roger Burden

“Lyn is great; she’s like a mother to the 40 to 50 players we have signed on and she’s always there when we need her and she watches all the home games, including those of our reserves, regardless of the weather.

“She’ll drop some lads off home afterwards and she’ll bring to games Haribos and oranges already peeled and prepared, which can be a lot of effort especially when both teams are playing at home at the same time.

“Lyn is just a great asset to grassroots football. She’ll chat for hours and she has this infectious warm smile that gives everyone a lift.

“The funny thing is Lyn doesn’t really watch any other football – she’s not really a football fan in the wider sense - yet she attends all our meetings and puts so much time into what she does.

“I’ve been Wessex manager for two years and the commitment levels required are so much more than I initially thought they would be with so much else to think about.

“So to do it for 21 years as she has done is remarkable and she’s a grandmother too. If she wasn’t there I’m not sure what would happen to the club as she has so much involvement and contact with so many people.

“To me she is 100 per cent irreplaceable.”

Tom explained with a smile: “Lyn didn’t know she was going to get the award; only that she’d been invited to a Gloucestershire FA council meeting (at its Oaklands Park HQ in Almondsbury).

“When her name was called out and she saw what was happening, she gave me a friendly punch in the arm as though to say, ‘what have you been up to?’

“I’d actually driven her there to make sure she didn’t leave! Lyn isn’t one to bask in her own glory; she doesn’t relish the attention although on this occasion she was bright red and smiling with absolute delight which sums her up.”

  • Coming up here: How the presentation of a prestigious FA service award stunned Wessex Wanderers’ super secretary Lyn
Tell us your thoughts on Grassroots football in Gloucestershire and help shape future change. #HaveYourSay Grassroots football survey 2019-20

FOUR ambitious trophy-chasing women’s teams enter the 2019-20 GFA Women’s Trophy arena this weekend (October 20, 2pm) hoping to put on their Sunday best, writes Simon Parkinson.

Abbeymead Rovers Ladies entertain Pucklechurch Sports Ladies while Forest Green Rovers Women, the 2015-16 tournament winners, host newly-formed early-season slickers Bristol Rovers Women.

Abbeymead showed a big improvement on their 2017-18 fortunes in Gloucestershire County Women’s League combat last season when they rose from a second-bottom berth then to finish up fourth on the Division One ladder with ten wins and a draw from 16 outings to keep the front-runners close by.

The early throes of their latest challenge have not been quite so straightforward with just the solitary victory from four appearances, a 3-1 away victory over Longlevens courtesy of Melissa Devereux’s double and Kathryn Sutton’s strike.

Their guests at Abbeydale Community Centre on Sunday, Pucklechurch Sports, joined forces with the existing St Nicholas Ladies Reserves over the summer to form a brand-new set-up and successfully so if their early appearances are anything to go by.

The Church girls head for Gloucester this weekend, and that enticing first date with league rivals Abbeymead, with spirits soaring thanks to the three straight wins that have propelled them into second spot ahead of the county cup break.

The latest came in emphatic fashion too, a 6-0 home demolition of Dursley Town Ladies in the first round of the Gordon Perrett League Cup competition courtesy of Poppy Coles, Charlotte Davis, Yasmin West, Amy Williamson, Nerys Akers and Lucky Sparks goals.

There’s a big-name ring about the Forest Green-Bristol Rovers bout, although for the Nailsworth-based hosts recent times have not been so easy, having enjoyed promotion success to the Premier Division of the South West Women’s League in 2016-17 and gone on to secure respectable mid-table status in the top-flight the following year before returning to second-tier Eastern Division affairs as a consequence of a testing last campaign.

They have yet to win a league game after three appearances of their latest mission too, although a slender 2-1 first-day away defeat by current pacesetters Frome Town, followed up by a 2-2 draw at Pen Mill Ladies, hardly spells a disaster.

Forest Green are, however, likely to have their hands full again this Sunday with the visit to The New Lawn by a brand-new and thriving Bristol Rovers Women set-up currently streaking ahead at the County League summit with five wins from five.

Thanks to the “success” of Bristol Rovers Community Trust’s women’s and girls’ programme, they not only pitched a first team into County League Division One action for the start of 2019-20 but unveiled a second Development team too, who are enjoying similar top-table status with the same perfect record in Division Two.

A whole raft of clubs have been waved through to the second round of the county competition on first round bye tickets, including Cheltenham Town Ladies who  begin the defence of their Women’s Trophy crown on Sunday, November 17 when travelling  Bristol Ladies Union Youth Development will be out to upset the applecart at the very start.

Meanwhile, there are two ties on show too at the opening stage of the GFA Women’s Challenge Cup this Sunday, October 20 (2pm).

Gloucester City Ladies host Bradley Stoke Ladies with Southmead Community Sport waiting patiently in the wings to host the winners on Sunday November 11, while Winchcombe Town Ladies entertain Tytherington Rocks Ladies knowing a trip to Bradley Stoke Ladies Development is a round two incentive.

Gloucester are undoubted favourites heading into this weekend’s match as they have been in winning and freescoring form of late to keep on the front-runners’ tails in County League Division Two, while Bradley Stoke still seek a first win following five barren outings sharing bottom spot with Bishops Cleeve.

Winchcombe, meantime, host Tytherington for an intriguing meeting involving two County League newcomers who met only a fortnight back for the first time when Rocks came out on top with a 6-3 home victory via Lauren White’s brace and Jasmine Pither, Jes Fleming, Abbie Mitchell and Emma Foxwell efforts.

It proved a bittersweet experience for Winchcombe hot-shot Alisha Parker, who hit a super hat-trick yet still finished up disappointed.

Tytherington will fancy their chances in this Sunday’s confrontation too having raced to the top with four wins from four for starters, although their King George V Playing Fields hosts Winchcombe come into it lifted by last weekend’s 3-2 League Cup first round success over Cirencester Town Ladies, the reigning Women’s Challenge Cup champions, thanks to another Parker strike along with Katy Bradshaw and Kate Lang contributions.

  • Keep any eye out for all results and fixtures throughout the two GFA women’s tournaments by visiting the Cups and Competitions section of this website.

Greening back and determined to help drive Sea Mills Park back to former heights

IKIE Greening is back in business with his beloved Sea Mills Park – and he hopes the future is as bright on the field as it appears to be off it at this time, writes Simon Parkinson.

The 60-year-old, who experienced the ups and downs as a manager with Henbury Sports, Hallen and Shirehampton over a 34-year career, spent almost a decade successfully orchestrating events at the first team helm at Sea Mills until the end of the 2018-19 Bristol Premier Combination campaign when he announced he would be taking a breather from the demands of matchday and training ground duties.

Things, as so often happens in football at all levels, haven’t worked out as anticipated with both Sea Mills’ first XI and reserve teams propping up their respective tables in the Premier Combination top-flight and Bristol and District Division Two respectively without a point to their names ahead of Saturday, October 12 games.

Of his decision to return to management undertakings, Greening explained: “I’ve taken on the running of our reserves in order to help steady the ship and keep things going.

“It’s been a struggle consistently fielding the same players week to week, even though we have plenty signed on. It’s just that so many can’t make it most Saturdays for various different reasons.

“Tim Seymour came in from Almondsbury Under-16s and took over the running of our reserves last season before taking up the first team position with us now. He’s ideal for the role as he has the coaching badges and is spot on with his methods.

“But a lot of his old youth team players aren’t able to commit regularly while others have left for other local teams.

“It’s been disappointing as during the decade or so I’ve been there as first team manager we came all the way up from District Two and had three senior sides for a bit. Sea Mills even started up an under-18 section which unfortunately disbanded a couple of years ago.

“During those nine to ten years I was in charge we had four promotions, including the one that took us up into the Premier Combination as District Senior champions.

“Now, as it stands, it’s just about trying to keep our two teams alive.”

Sea Mills have certainly taken a tumble where first team affairs are concerned, having pushed eventual Premier Combination champions Cribbs Reserves so hard for long stretches of last season before settling for second spot, as well as reaching the final and semi-finals of the GFA Senior Amateur South Cup and Combination League Cup respectively, where Cribbs pipped them to the post on both counts.

A philosophical and bullish Greening reasoned: “We’ve certainly had our good years but football tends to be like a circle and we’ve come round to hitting hard times. I feel sad about the local game generally as years ago everyone relished their Saturday football.

“You can either walk away from it all or roll your sleeves up and keep fighting and that’s what we’ll do and others in the grassroots game are doing.

“Tim is a really good and committed manager who has settled into this higher standard well. But he needs help from committed players wanting to play Saturday football and determined, as we are, to start turning things around again.

“The club has four brand-new changing rooms which are looking great (at Kingsweston Sports Ground) along with two new dugouts and railings all around the pitch, so the hard work is virtually done in terms of all that and we’re excited about how it’s all looking.”

Anyone wishing to get involved with Sea Mills Park as a player or behind the scenes can contact Ikie Greening on 07770 661769.

Nothing Blunt about hat-trick man Kevin as Lawrence Rovers surge into second round

LAWRENCE Rovers marched into round two of the GFA Junior South Cup with a 7-1 away success over Bristol Downs League Division One’s winless side St Andrews, writes Simon Parkinson.

Rampant Rovers, currently heading the Bristol and District League Division One standings with four wins from four, had Kevin Blunt’s hat-trick and doubles each by Luke Hayward and Louis Curtis to thank for comfortably seeing them through at the cost of determined ten-man Saints, with five of the goals arriving in the final 20 minutes as the home team tired.

Tormarton made it past the first round juncture too courtesy of a 3-2 home defeat of Downs Division One visitors Saints Old Boys, Mason Harrison, Rudo Hewitt and an own goal ensuring the delighted District Two team a safe path.

Joel Edwards was at the double as Suburban Division One side Old Cothamians Reserves overcame Patchway Town Reserves 2-1 on their travels to advance to round two, Charlie Sagar responding for the District Senior Division’s current bottom team.

Matt Troth also notched twice, for District One basement battlers Greyfriars Athletic Reserves, as they swept through courtesy of a 4-1 away victory over Suburban One pacesetters Stoke Gifford United Reserves where Jamie Elliott and Jordan Cox were also on target.

Dave Paterson’s sole goal was all that Wick Reserves, riding high in second spot in the District Senior standings, required as they saw off hosts Longwell Green Sports A, of the District League’s second tier, 1-0.

But Tommy Hutton’s effort for District League top-flight competitors Oldland Abbotonians Reserves was far from enough as they were floored 6-1 on their travels by in-form Suburban Division One side Redbridge.

Elsewhere at the Junior South competition’s first hurdle, Lawrence Weston came through a competitive contest with visiting Wanderers 2-0 victors while there were more comprehensive successes for Bristol Telephones Reserves and Woodlands, who eased past Henbury Reserves (away) and St Nicholas (home) 6-1 and 6-0 respectively.

Retainers were also emphatic 6-0 away winners over Avonmouth Reserves, whilst Rockleaze Rangers A needed a tension-filled 6-5 penalty shoot-out triumph to overcome gallant hosts Wellington Wanderers following a 1-1 regular-time stalemate.

  • For all results from Junior Cup ties north and south of the county, visit the Cups and Competitions section of this website.

Goal-den Gosling fires four-timer as Charfield sail through first Intermediate hurdle

MATTHEW Gosling and his Charfield Reserves comrades had their shooting boots on for sure as they put agonised Eastcombe to the sword in the GFA Intermediate North Cup, writes Simon Parkinson.

Despite their hosts performing a level up from them in Stroud and District Division Two, and enjoying a reasonable start to their campaign to boot after last season’s struggles, 2018-19 promoted Division Four champions Charfield were in unstoppable mood on their travels as they powered into round two with a 10-2 success.

While Gosling led the spree with four of his on-song side’s goals, former Wickwar Wanderers Youth starlet Jake Hawkins pitched in with a hat-trick and Ed Fuller, Cullum Glynn and Tom York weighed in too to propel chuffed Charfield to double-figure delight.

Eastcombe kept going and had Josh Hoare and ex-Rodborough Under-18 performer Brandon Keveren goals to at least savour amid the disappointment.

Not to be outdone by his near-neighbour Gosling, Wickwar Wanderers’ own sharp-shooter David Parslow also celebrated a four-timer in his Stroud Two side’s 6-0 home success over North Gloucestershire League Division One hopefuls Ellwood, Rob Haines and Matthew Sands also on target for the King George V Field fliers.

Gala Wilton Reserves have barely got their Cheltenham League Division Two programme underway but they weren’t about to hang around where their Intermediate Cup undertakings are concerned.

There were hat-tricks each for David Carruthers and Daniel Knight, and single contributions by Kieran Meek and Ehren Wintle, as Gala powered past Westbury Reserves with an 8-1 romp to comfortably advance at the expense of their North Gloucestershire Division One opponents.

Hempsted, enjoying a splendid start to their Stroud League Division Three programme on the strength of last season’s Fourth Division promotion success close on Charfield’s heels, had Matthew Whitehouse’s treble to largely thank for seeing them to a 5-0 home victory over early Cheltenham Two strugglers Pittville United at Plock Court, Luke Perry and Alex Thomas Hempsted’s other marksmen.

FA Vase the focus now for Bishops Cleeve, Fairford, Brimscombe and Longlevens hopefuls 

A CLUTCH of Gloucestershire clubs strive to make further strides into this season’s FA Vase competition as they turn attentions to the weekend’s first round proper engagements, writes Simon Parkinson.

As the prize money starts to become more enticing - £825 is up for grabs to the winners of the Saturday, October 12 ties – so hopes and expectations begin to rise as Bishops Cleeve and Longlevens bid to make home advantage count while Hellenic Prem compatriots Fairford Town and Brimscombe and Thrupp take to the road for stiff away tests.

Cleeve boss Steve Cleal is targeting positive things from the 2019-20 tournament whilst keeping more than a keen eye on undoubted promotion potential amid exciting times for the Kayte Lane club.

For now, all eyes are on their intriguing FA Vase appointment with Brockenhurst guests who, like their hosts, are enjoying second spot status for now, in the Sydenhams Wessex League Premier Division, with a remarkably similar record.

The New Forest-based outfit have, just like Bishops Cleeve, won six, drawn one and lost only one of their eight league outings thus far, the Gloucestershire side edging the head-to-head courtesy only of a better two-goal difference approaching the contest.

It’s a fact not lost on Cleal who observed: “It appears that Brockenhurst are involved in a lot of high scoring games, just as we are, so it makes for a fascinating game and certainly a tough one from our perspective.

“I’d like to think that if we can nullify their own threats then our forwards can score goals against them because we’re in good form on the offensive.

“We’re delighted to be at home; you want that in every FA competition as much as possible and it would be great on Non-League Day to get a big crowd behind us. Last season we fell at the first hurdle (3-1) to a strong Bitton side from Bristol so we want to do a lot better than that.

“We operate as a team at step 5 level which is the highest ranking involved in the Vase, so we’d like to think we can go on a good run and pick up some decent prize money along the way,” added Cleal, whose men enter the match buoyed by a 5-2 away success over Southern League One South side Mangotsfield United in Tuesday’s GFA Senior Amateur Cup first round clash delivered via Jack Watts and Will Morford doubles and Tristan Haswell’s strike.

“That was a good night for us bar a couple of little niggling injuries,” Cleal said.

“We were good in all departments and looked a threat for most of the game. It’s even more pleasing when we had made five changes to the starting XI from Saturday as it shows a great strength in depth.”

Fairford Town manager Jody Bevan is approaching his own high-flying Hellenic Prem team’s tasty away encounter with local rivals Shrivenham with some confidence – and understandable caution too!

The clubs’ grounds are separated by a mere 12 miles and to add to the spice, the Wiltshire hosts also compete in the Hellenic top-flight and a little too strongly at times for Bevan’s and Fairford’s liking.

He smiled ruefully: “Since Shrivenham came up to the Hellenic Prem (in 2017-18) we’ve played them three times and lost every single game (3-0 and 2-0 last season and 5-1 this season).

“We’ve not really turned up against them so far so I just hope that changes on Saturday for what should be quite an even game.

“We know what they’re capable of: Shrivenham produced a hell of a run last season to get up the table into fifth place.

“They are our derby rivals and it adds to the intrigue that their manager Gareth Davies was my predecessor at Fairford and there are players in each camp who have featured for the opposite side.”

Brimscombe boss Sam Prior is looking forward to a pressure-free zone on Saturday amid a testing spell propping up the rest of the Hellenic top-tier teams without a win to their name.

The Lilywhites travel to Dorset to take on Christchurch, who have won four and drawn two of their eight Wessex Premier games ahead of the tie, and former Kings Stanley supremo Prior emphasised: “We’re looking forward to a good trip. It’s always nice to play sides from a different league and new area and it adds to the excitement.

“We’ve only picked up titbits about Christchurch so we’ll learn on the job and see where it takes us.

“Our position in the league doesn’t reflect our form generally and injuries and unavailability have really affected us until now when I hope to have a good 15/16-man squad to pick from at last.”

Thrupp secretary Allan Boulton, well into his fourth decade as a local football administrator, added: “The Vase means a lot to us with the prize money too. It’s a trip into the unknown going to Christchurch but I gather Sam is pretty much at full strength for it.

“We’re taking a coachload of supporters down and it’s a great day out for the club. We seem to be doing well in the cups at the moment so hopefully that will continue on Saturday.”

Longlevens, meanwhile, could have been forgiven for feeling grateful at gaining home advantage when they discovered the team they’d been paired with for Saturday’s first round affair, Cowes Sports, are located on the Isle of Wight.

Whilst Craig Martin’s men are experiencing a mixed season so far in the Hellenic Prem, Cowes have been struggling to make inroads into their Wessex Premier campaign, their two wins from nine games pegging them to bottom four status as it stands.

The Saw Mills End supremo insisted, however: “It would have been quite nice to have had this tie played at their place and made a weekend of it as we’ve played all seven of our cup games so far at home, so this will be our eighth from eight!

“It would have been a nice reward for the lads as they’ve worked hard to put us where we are, but it’s also nice to be playing a team we know absolutely nothing about.

“It means I can focus entirely on us and our strengths rather than what the opposition is about and thinking how I should make tweaks and changes accordingly because of a prior knowledge about them.

“Cowes will certainly have an early start setting off down there and a long journey so it’s important we start fast and look to attack from the off,” announced Martin, who has been boosted by the returns of influential central midfielder Shaun O’Connor from a seven-week injury lay-off and ten-goal centre-forward and younger brother Bradley Martin from holiday.

“These guys make us tick and they’re big characters about the place and on the pitch,” the Longlevens leader, who jubilantly fired his team’s winner in the previous round’s 2-1 home win over Newent Town, enthused.

Read the preview looking at the Bristol based clubs competing in the The Buildbase FA Vase first round proper this weekend here.

Joseph and Leroy on treble trail as lethal Lakeside power through Minor Cup opener

THE first round of the GFA Minor North Cup competition threw up plenty of goals – not least at Cheltenham United where 12 flew in to keep enthralled spectators and managers tense and on their toes!

Despite Jordan Rushworth’s brace and Seth Fullwood’s effort for the hosts, an otherwise in-form Cheltenham Division Three team were swept aside 9-3 by league rivals FC Lakeside Reserves, who had hat-tricks each by Joseph Richards and Leroy Odiero to celebrate plus strikes from Lawrence Gorry, Ashley Underwood and substitute Joe Townsend to thank for catapulting them into round two in some style.

There were ten goals to savour at Lower Road where unbeaten North Gloucestershire Division Two fliers Soudley took their perfect winning form on to the county cup stage by overcoming Cotswold Rangers Reserves 7-3 thanks to Rob Adams’ treble, Billy Bowdler’s brace and Luke Harris and Kurtis Simonds contributions.

It was hard on Rangers opponents – Kieran Held (2) and Lee Conner were their marksmen - who are enjoying life up a level this year in Division Five of the Stroud and District League.

Blakeney Reserves’ Butts Lane base provided nine first round goals but unfortunately for the hosts only one went their way, as North Glos Two rivals Coleford Town Reserves breezed to an 8-1 victory through pairs apiece for Ian Callow and Liam Howard, along with a Stuart Jeffs triple and Phil Powell single. Anthony Smith’s goal for bruised Blakeney was scant solace.

Rodborough & Cainscross OB Reserves also found a comfortable path to round two as they dismissed their Stroud Division Four counterparts Alkerton Rangers & Woodchester 7-1 on their travels to pile more agony on the home side who had yet to pick up a point this term.

On a day of hat-tricks galore, Tom Coultas celebrated such a feat while Jeb Martin’s double and Dan Powell and Tom Carter strikes wrapped up a convincing Rodborough win, Andrew Broadley replying for the valiant hosts.

Stroud Division Five guests Gloster Rovers were also in the mood for goals as they overcame Cheltenham Christian League hopefuls Cheltenham Pilgrims 6-2 on the road thanks to braces by Elliot Roberts and Steve Wall, along with Josh Andrews and Archie Mann efforts.

Stroud League Five high-fliers Dursley Town Reserves and Cashes Green were in no mood to hang around either. Dursley stuck seven without reply past Ruardean Hill 3rds with hat-tricks each for Will Gosling and Joel Stoneman as Tristan Franklin pitched in too.

Early leaders Cashes, who have been in freescoring mode in the league, showed visiting Cheltenham Saracens Reserves plenty of that firepower by beating them 6-0 at the aptly-named Victory Park with pairs each from Jamie Allsop and Zack Moulden, and singles for Kristian Wylie and Tyler Gingell.

It proved a tighter affair at Station Road where hosts Berkeley Town Reserves went down 5-2 at the hands of Kingsway Rovers Reserves, who play a division up from their Stroud League compatriots in Division Four.

Shane Lovegrove was at the double for Kingsway and Brad Lovegrove, Danzel Mulasi and Harry Speakman weighed in too, while battling Berkeley at least had Martyn Palmer and Ovidov Podar registering with consolations.

For all GFA Minor North Cup results, visit the Cups and Competitions section.

Four-goal Wayman leads way as Ellwood aces spell double trouble for Painswick

ELLWOOD Reserves amply demonstrated why they are one of North Gloucestershire League Division Three’s early leading lights as they entered the 2019-20 county cup arena with a bang.

Their potent goalscoring form continued with a 10-1 home trouncing of shell-shocked Stroud Seven side Painswick Reserves to cruise into the second round of the GFA Primary North Cup courtesy of Mark Wayman’s four-goal haul, Michael Nelson and Gary Wildin doubles and Tom Creed and Lee Scotford efforts in their own impregnable Bromley Road backyard.

Ellwood’s aces weren’t alone in securing double-figure success on the opening afternoon of the competition.

Fintan Reserves, who have begun their Cheltenham Division Four programme brightly, sounded their own note of warning about their intent in the tournament this term as Martin Nightingale’s treble, Joshua Villarba’s double and Ashley Hope, Terell Mitchell, Joel Tizzard, Rece Gilder and Lewis Harris strikes propelled them past league rivals Cheltenham Saracens 3rds 10-1, whose Steve Organ made their sole contribution.

Cashes Green Reserves haven’t topped the fledgling Stroud Seven standings with perfect winning form for nothing.

Just ask visiting Gala Wilton A, who were sent spinning out of the competition via a 7-3 defeat delivered by four-goal Adam Whitfield and Marshall Stokes, Ashley Shaw and Harry Dowdeswell goals.

It proved a bitter-sweet occasion for Gala goal-getter Chris Trout, who netted with all three of his side’s goals yet was still left disappointed.

Hat-trick man Jamie Johnson was in the mood to progress his Pittville United Reserves’ Cheltenham Division Four hosts further into the Primary Cup as they racked up a 6-2 home victory over Blockley Sports, Josh Brentnall and Luca Williams amongst their marksmen too at the expense of visitors who have experienced a tough start to their Stratford upon Avon second-tier season.

Andoversford 3rds and Bishops Cleeve Development served up a tight and exciting all-Cheltenham Four first round contest, the tie eventually going the way of relieved and delighted travellers Cleeve following a 4-4 normal-time stalemate.

Chris Waring and Jamie Ellison had both been at the double for Andoversford while Jack Davis’ brace and James Allen and Joel Whittaker goals ensured Cleeve a crack from the spot, from which they came safely through with a 4-2 win.

Cam Everside Wanderers, of Division Seven, had to fight all the way for their place at the second stage before celebrating a splendid 4-3 away victory over Stroud League fellows Sharpness 3rds, who perform a section up in Division Six.

Lee Crosbee led the way for clinical Cam with a hat-trick and Bryan Keep added a goal of his own in a lively Oldminster Road encounter. Craig Freeman, Kier Long and Kris Bell kept Sharpness’ hopes flourishing until the final shrill.

It proved a more straightforward passage for Ramblers Reserves, the promoted Stroud Division Seven champions now aiming to make waves in Division Six.

They strolled to a 6-0 away success against Redmarley Reserves, pairs apiece for Gareth Davies, Ryan Keeling and Dean Goodard seeing Ramblers home at the cost of a Redmarley outfit eager to make an impact in this season’s North Glos Three competition.

Woodmancote United were also in goal-hungry mood as they swept aside Cotswold Christian League battlers Cirencester Pilgrims CBC 7-2 to progress.

Jason Hodges spearheaded the Cheltenham Four hosts’ drive for round two with a hat-trick, while Kieran Woods struck twice and Malikia Barry and Benjamin Phelps added Woodmancote’s other goal.

A closer and more competitive affair could be found at Berry Hill where Stroud Division Six side Abbeymead Rovers A came away slender 2-1 victors via joyful substitute James Harris’ double against their spirited North Glos Three hosts Whitecroft B, whose Steve Gane kept them in the game.

For all GFA Primary North Cup results, visit the Cups and Competitions section.

Andy at the double as holders Cribbs set stall out in latest Combination Cup quest

CRIBBS Reserves demonstrated they are in no mood to relinquish their hold on the Bristol Premier Combination League Cup trophy when it comes to their 2019-20 assault on more silverware, writes Simon Parkinson.

The lethal Lawns outfit, who celebrated a treble feat last season with league title and GFA Senior Amateur South Cup success, also overcame Iron Acton 4-0 in the final of the League Cup at their own Station Road facility.

Keen to get their latest campaign in the same competition off to a flier, Cribbs did just that as they defeated Division One hopefuls Roman Glass St George Reserves 3-1 on their Whiteway Road travels through Andy Forward’s brace and George Neill’s effort.

In a largely forgettable contest played on a testing surface, Remahazo Sandro had levelled up for Roman Glass before Cribbs pulled away to progress.

Joshua Brown made his mark for AEK Boco Reserves but his own First Division team could not prevent Prem side Shaftesbury Crusade advancing to the second round with a 3-1 win in their Bonnington Walk backyard.

Olveston United were looking good for the first 20 minutes of their home tie with Nicholas Wanderers until two mistakes proved costly as the delighted Combination league new-boys went on to wrap up a 4-0 win with two more second-half strikes, Aaron Mansfield (2), Jordan West and Scott Andoniou doing the damage with the goals.

O’s’ disappointed co-boss Russell Knight said: The result didn’t quite reflect our chances in the match but we certainly didn’t deserve to progress.”

Bradley Stoke Town were, like Wanderers, making their tournament bow and like their fellow newcomers they set off with a win, Callum Somerville and Dylan Quick the marksmen in a 2-1 victory at Highridge United who replied through Lee Pitman.

It’s been a truly testing time for Sea Mills Park, who followed up two heavy league defeats for starters with a 6-1 home drubbing by fellow Prem competitors Seymour United, who comfortably progressed with a Dan Troake treble and Tom Morgan, Luke Wilshire and Nathan Gore goals.

Elsewhere in the competition Iron Acton, still seeking their first points of 2019-20, were just edged out of a tight tie with Shirehampton Reserves at Sunnyside Fields courtesy of a 6-5 penalty shoot-out outcome following a 1-1 regular-time draw, Sam Wintle Acton’s first-half marksman.

“It was our best performance of the season which deserved more but it wasn’t to be,” accepted Acton secretary Chris Wilmot.

Greyfriars Athletic also made it past the first round phase thanks to a hard-fought 2-1 away victory over Longwell Green Sports Reserves, Matt Troth scoring both goals to put them 2-0 up at half-time before the hosts hit back with a lifeline strike by Ivan Delaney.

Longwell were left licking their wounds as Adam Puplett missed a penalty whilst his team also hit the post four times.

Hallen Reserves progressed without kicking a ball as they were awarded a walkover win over a depleted Pucklechurch Sports team with nine players unavailable for various reasons.

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Elevation the aim as Southside Star hope hard work bears fruit under Peach leadership

SOUTHSIDE Star player-secretary Sam Jones believes his club’s drive for Gloucestershire Northern Senior League status is in good hands with Chris Peach at the wheel, writes Simon Parkinson.

Now back on an even keel after a period of transition and turbulence, the Swindon Village outfit are eyeing upwards motion once more.

Asked about his club’s lofty ambitions, the young Southside administrator insisted: “The aim is to try and get back into the Northern Senior League, this time around if possible, under Chris Peach’s management.

“We were quite satisfied to finish fifth last season in our first stint back in the top division for a few years, although there was a feeling that the potential was there to do even better after also reaching the quarter-finals of the Junior Charity Cup where we lost 3-1 to Andoversford.

“Chris took over in 2017-18 when we only had the one side, having been one of the original Star players before the merger. He also had a few FA coaching badges.

“Chris expressed an interest in running the team and he’s certainly the reason why our firsts are as strong as they are today.

“He is very ambitious and determined to try and win Division One and go up this season if at all possible.

“There’s also no reason why our seconds, under James’ leadership, can’t improve on last season’s lowly final position to win promotion to Division Two.”

Of an improving picture across the board, Jones conveyed: “As a club we have 42 or so senior players signed on which is a great number.

“Importantly it means the social aspect of the club improves and that in turn brings in more players and commitment.

“The Bath Tavern has become our social hub, a place for players and officials to go and socialise after games as we have no such bar facilities of our own at our council-owned site at Swindon Village Playing Field.

“Local football is all about enjoyment and I feel the social side is just as important, if not more so, than the playing side. I set an emphasis on that as football clubs are special things; through it you can create a lot of friends and bonds.

“The camaraderie at the club is brilliant. Many clubs would have gone very close to folding in similar circumstances to ours when we went from four senior teams to only one in the space of two years.

“So to see it building back up again in this way is fantastic.”

Life at Southside Star has been a helter-skelter experience, admits secretary Sam

SOUTHSIDE Star haven’t had it all their own way since entering into an ambitious amalgamation with a local insurance firm’s club some five summers ago, writes Simon Parkinson.

So says their dedicated 23-year-old player-secretary Sam Jones, who knows all about the ups and downs already as a relatively-new football club administrator striving to find stability and success on an uncertain local scene.

Having found himself embroiled in an unexpected freefall scenario as the club lost three of its senior teams in a short space of time following the merger with Star FC, Jones and his comrades were staring at a brighter picture again.

He explained: “All of a sudden things picked up again and we were starting to get 25 to 30 players available. Trouble was then that with just one team on offer and the fact you could only take 16 players to a match, we found some were starting to lose interest and we began losing players again.

“Yet before we knew it they all started to come back, which meant we were getting decent numbers at training again. So we went on a recruitment drive over the summer of the 2018-19 season and the upshot was we managed to form a second team once more and the Cheltenham League committee were happy to let us back in.”

Jones recalled of that original tie-up between Southside and Star: “Star were the Eagle Star insurance company of the time based on Bath Road (Cheltenham) who had a first team performing in the Northern Senior League and a second XI in Division Four of the Cheltenham League.

“They approached us about the potential for an amalgamation and we saw it as a great opportunity to go into the Northern Senior as we had players who were capable of the step up and wanting to make the leap. So from having two senior teams we merged and became four spanning the two leagues.

“I have no idea why the two clubs got together in that way. Star were maybe struggling with financial burdens whilst we were sound financially, so they came to us with the idea, our respective grounds were close and we were very happy to take the opportunity and make the merger.

“As I said, it’s been one big rollercoaster since then but we were delighted, despite our firsts finishing up sixth in Division Two last season, to take advantage of league restructuring and move up to Division One and that is maybe why some of our former Northern Senior players came back to us, as they saw an opportunity was there again to play at a higher level.”

  • Coming soon . . . why Southside Star secretary Sam Jones feels Chris Peach is the man to steer them to higher planes once more on the local football circuit.

Northern Senior League now the goal again for Cheltenham-based Southside Star

SOUTHSIDE Star’s enthusiastic young secretary Sam Jones believes his club are well placed now to try and forge a place back in the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League, writes Simon Parkinson.

The Swindon Village-based outfit in Cheltenham have, by Jones’ own admission, experienced something of a rollercoaster existence since their merger with Star FC in 2015.

But they appear to be well on the way to becoming their old thriving and happy selves once more, both on and off the field.

Southside’s first XI wound up a respectable fifth in top-flight Cheltenham League Division One last season following promotion, as sixth-place finishers, from Division Two the previous term.

Despite a slow start to their current campaign, Star have cruised through two rounds of the Junior Charity Cup competition thanks to 2-0 and 5-0 home successes over Windyridge Rovers and AFC Renegades to fuel belief levels.

They also have promising second string competitors pitched into Cheltenham Division Three action and eyeing better days under James Griffiths’ stewardship on the back of last season’s basement battles.

In many respects Jones and Co are simply pleased and encouraged to be overseeing two competitive senior sides once more after suffering the fate that besets so many grassroots clubs the length and breadth of the land a few short years ago.

The 23-year-old has been a Southside member since the tender age of five when an eager part of what remains today a busy and buzzing junior section for all ages, one Sam’s father John continues to involve himself in as coach and mentor where the excitement unfolds at Greatfield Park Primary School on Saturday mornings.

Life hasn’t, until more recent times, been quite as straightforward where senior Southside football is concerned as Jones Jnr, a reserve team player as well as secretary, explained: “Soon after merging with Star FC a few years ago we started to lose a core group of players which led us to go from four teams down to three.

“For various reasons and factors we couldn’t sustain that either and we had to deal with quite a downturn as three teams became two and then, very disappointingly around the time I became secretary in 2017, turned into only one team.

“We got rid of that first team and decided to run with just the one side in Cheltenham Division Two during the 2017-18 season.

“It was a time of tough transition and a lot of hard work went in by excellent people on the committee to keep the club afloat, something I’m extremely grateful for.”

  • Up next here . . . how life at Southside Star has been a helter-skelter ride for Sam Jones and his colleagues.

Five-goal Smith steals show as Upton St Leonards stroll through Senior Amateur stage

DEADLY Dan Smith and his lethal Upton St Leonards team-mates didn’t hang around as they opened their GFA Senior Amateur North Cup campaign in explosive double-figure fashion, writes Simon Parkinson.

In what was billed to being a potentially tight encounter between two Gloucestershire Northern Senior League sides rooted to the foot of the Division One table without a win, and just the one Upton point, to their names from 11 fixtures between them, the first round Birchall Lane bout could hardly have been more one-sided.

Smith was in sizzling form to spearhead the assault with five of Leonards’ goals whilst Lewis Newell pitched in with a brace and Richard Cushion, Stuart Griffith and Nick Musty all contributed to see the hosts to an emphatic 10-0 success, to sound a warning they are in no mood to become league and cup whipping boys any longer than is necessary.

There was first-day delight for Woolaston too, the unbeaten Northern Senior League leaders looking to make an early impact in the prestigious county competition.

They proved too hot for guests Hardwicke Reserves at Netherend Crescent as Elliott Greening’s hat-trick and efforts by Adam Giles, Mark Organ and substitute Sam Greening saw their on-song side to a 6-1 home victory at the expense of their Stroud Division One opponents.

Newly-named Smiths Barometrics, now in Northern Senior League Two action as a joint force involving Smiths Athletic and FC Barometrics following their summer amalgamation, set their Senior Amateur North undertakings underway with a fine 2-0 home victory over a lowly Berkeley Town team striving to pin a first win to the First Division board ahead of the tie.

Brett Blake and Joseph Finch did the damage with the Smiths goals.

Last but not least of the four early fixtures on the card, Shortwood United Development squeezed through a closely-fought contest with Stonehouse Town Reserves on their travels with a 4-2 penalty shoot-out success after the teams had gone into the spot kick decider in 2-2 deadlock.

Will Butcher and Ryan Stewart had notched for Stonehouse hosts pleased to be performing in the second tier of Northern Senior League football now following their promotion from Stroud League One last term.

They weren’t so happy to fall prey to penalties frustration after goals for the Lowe boys, Aaron and Jake, had helped spirited Uhlsport Hellenic Two West team Shortwood, who had no points to parade in the league from four fixtures ahead of the tie and a goal difference of minus 25, secure that normal-time stalemate.

Life’s looking bright for Little Stoke as third team introduction raises the spirits

LITTLE Stoke manager Ash Coles has painted a “bright picture” for his club as he gets to grips with their latest Marcliff Gloucestershire County League commitments, writes Simon Parkinson.

His team began their assault with 3-1 and 4-1 defeats by the ever-fancied Frampton United and rejuvenated Gala Wilton but went on to register improved results to ensure confidence levels are firmly intact approaching their next fixture with newly-promoted Quedgeley Wanderers on Saturday, October 5 (3pm).

Since those two early setbacks, Little Stoke have beaten Rockleaze Rangers and Henbury 4-0 and 3-2 at home respectively and won 4-2 at Hanham Athletic.

The two fixtures of late with Wick have proved more disappointing, as the early pacesetters knocked Les James League Cup holders Stoke out of the tournament at the first phase in a tight penalty shoot-out before following it up with a 2-0 County League victory on the road a fortnight later.

Coles emphasised: “We’ve had two mid-table finishes over the past two seasons and we have to be looking for greater consistency to enable us to challenge closer to the top, which we’re well capable of doing.

“The club picture is a good one as we’ve introduced a new third team to our set-up. Both those A’s and our reserves have started their Suburban League seasons and I’d like to wish them well under their new managers Steve Sanders and Pete Rapson respectively, who both came over from North Bristol Trust.

“It’s great for us, having them and the players who joined from North Bristol too, and I see no reason why both those sides can’t do well.”

Of that slow start for his own first XI charges, Coles stressed: “It wasn’t as though we didn’t play well in those first two games; it’s just that virtually all seven goals were down to errors by us.

“We were right in it for the majority of the match with Frampton but when you make three mistakes against a team like that you’ll get punished.

“Collectively we didn’t defend well enough at Gala, who have a better squad now, despite taking the lead on 43 minutes only to concede shortly after and then get done by two more goals in the first six minutes of the second half.

“Luke Meacham’s sending off for us at 3-1 didn’t help and they scored again shortly after. It was annoying as we’d played some really good football in both games and it was about learning from the errors.”

Coles continued: “Rockleaze have a good squad but we defended well against them when we needed to and took our chances fantastically well.

“It was similar at Hanham when good build-up play and quality finishing saw us through. Having that sort of clinical edge takes the weight off defensively and breeds confidence throughout the team.

“Khalil Lamir (striker) scored a great individual goal in each of those two games and it was disappointing that at 4-0 up at Hanham we ended up with nine men as he was red carded along with our left-back Alex Hill.

“Against Wick in our last league game we did all right and it was a case of missed chances by us on the afternoon.”

Female football conference just the ticket for Gloucestershire coaches and volunteers

FOOTBALL enthusiasts eager to play a part in keeping the female sport on the front foot and flourishing in Gloucestershire are invited to a special and informative get-together in late October.

Aware at the speed and growth of the girls’ and women’s game, Gloucestershire FA (GFA) and FA Women’s High Performance Centre based at University of Gloucestershire are running a conference to raise profile and provide and support networking opportunities for those involved, or looking to get involved, in any aspect of female football in the county.

The event, previously scheduled for July, takes place on Sunday, October 27 between 9.30am and 4.15pm at University of Gloucestershire, Oxstalls Sports Arena, Plock Court, Tewkesbury Road, Gloucester, GL2 9DW.

Tickets to attend are priced at just £10 per person which includes refreshments, lunch and workshop resources.

GFA Women and Girls’ Development officer Alexis Lunn-Gadd explained: “The conference is set up to highlight all the fantastic work going on in the female game locally, as well as providing people with local and national updates, ongoing support and CPD opportunities.

“Attendees will have the chance to attend two out of four workshops being delivered during the day, as well as hearing from our guest speaker Rachel Pavlou, the FA’s national women’s football development manager.

“The event is aimed at anyone involved, or looking to get involved, in the female game in Gloucestershire and is very much targeted at males and females in both mixed and female environments.

“There will be a networking lunch and an opportunity to interact with our football partners around various areas of the game.

“The Gloucestershire County Women’s League, Gloucester Girls League and Bristol Girls League are supporting this event and have subsequently agreed to not schedule fixtures on this date, to allow clubs and their coaches and volunteers the opportunity to attend.”

Anyone wishing to sign up – people are encouraged to do so early to avoid disappointment as places are limited - can visit www.gloucestershirefa.com/GFGC or email Abbie Sadler, at asadler3@glos.ac.uk or Alexis Lunn-Gadd, at alexis.lunn-gadd@gloucestershirefa.com

Cook: I’m comfortable with Tormarton decision not to accept promotion chance

TORMARTON chief Chris Cook weighed up a big club decision to decline entry into Division One of the Bristol and District League and insisted: “It’s a decision I feel perfectly comfortable with,” writes Simon Parkinson.

Cook and his Old Sodbury Road colleagues were faced with the prospect over the close season of folding a set-up which had enjoyed plenty of success and promise since bursting back on to the local scene in 2012.

A raft of player departures put their existence in serious jeopardy, until an influx of fresh faces ultimately saved the day and Tormarton are pressing on unabated in the same third tier and looking to challenge the front runners hard as they did in 2018-19.

The 32-year-old centre-half, who combines his chairmanship commitments with the roles of treasurer and secretary, reasoned: “It was a case of looking after the best interests of the club during a challenging period.

“Staying where we are gives us the opportunity to play in more local games, with the likes of Brimsham Green, Old Sodbury and Iron Acton Reserves in there who are all near-neighbours of ours.

“I also feel pretty relieved about it all as on a personal note I want to carry on playing as long as I can and I don’t want to play for another team in an unfamiliar set-up.

“Hopefully, with a new generation of players coming through, we can secure the future of Tormarton FC with the many new young players that we have on board now.”

Asked about the shape of Tormarton’s squad heading into their new District League campaign, Cook replied: “We have a core squad of around 11 players I can rely on each week and there are others who will come in and out, so it should make for some hard selection decisions.

“We’re also pleased now to be an FA Charter Standard Club, even though we only run the one team that went so close to folding!

“We had a league meeting just after Christmas as we’d heard the league wanted as many of its clubs to be granted Charter Standard status, so we went for it.

“We even had a £100 Nike training equipment voucher from the GFA as a token of congratulations which was pleasing as it had been hard work getting everything in place.

“All that effort seems to be paying off and now we just want to continue being competitive where we are and hopefully put together another good cup run.”

Big relief as tenacious Tormarton live to fight another day as a Bristol and District force

TORMARTON’s dedicated player and administrator Chris Cook admits he is “relieved” that his club continues to operate with a Bristol and District League team following a truly turbulent summer, writes Simon Parkinson.

The 32-year-old centre-back, who was there as one of the driving forces behind Tormarton’s reformation in 2012 under the banner of Cesson FC at the time, found himself unexpectedly thrust into a period of transition for The Old Wheatfield outfit on Old Sodbury Road as their existence became threatened by a raft of player departures.

Tormarton, the 2016-17 Gloucestershire FA Intermediate South Cup conquerors, had meant to be gearing up for life at a higher Division One level after being granted promotion from Division Two.

However, “unforeseen circumstances” over pre-season led to a decision to stay put and Tormarton, under the leadership of new managers Gary Knott and Jordan Darnley, are now underway once more and hoping fortune shines on them as it did over a positive and productive 2018-19 campaign.

Cook, rushed off his feet enough as secretary, chairman and treasurer, explained: “We only had about six players attend our first training session around mid-June, all from last season’s squad, so the alarm bells began to ring.

“I called a meeting with two or three senior players as the last thing we wanted to do was approach the season and then have to fold.

“Suddenly, after that meeting, all these people started to turn up! We’d put word out about our situation and it sparked interest in a lot of lads from other local clubs looking for change.

“But it had certainly been a frantic time ahead of that first training session, just getting on the phone and trying to drum up interest.

“We’d lost a lot of older players to other commitments relating to kids and work etc and we lost one to St Nicholas and another to Chipping Sodbury’s first team.

“Admittedly it did lead us to consider whether it was worth continuing.”

Cook conceded: “I really hadn’t seen any of this coming. Everything was hunky-dory last season with everyone enjoying it, not least the promotion challenge. What happened to us highlights just how fragile football can be at our level.

“So many local sides struggle, as we’ve seen with Rangeworthy with both of their sides dropping out from the District League over the summer.

“Two or three weeks into pre-season we looked at what we had player-wise and even though there were more of them and of a good standard, many were young too so. So we put in a request to the league suggesting we’d be better served staying in a division we knew all about rather than go into a more physical competition.

“It was just felt that in order to secure the long-term future of Tormarton it would be better to bed these lads in steadily although don’t get me wrong, Division Two is competitive and of a good-standard.”

  • Coming up here: part two of the close-season challenges faced by Tormarton – and that big decision not to accept promotion opportunity.

Fresh faces have given us an injection of belief, Roman Glass No.2 Liam insists

ROMAN Glass St George No.2 Liam Greening insists an influx of “quality additions” to the ranks has been instrumental in an impressive upturn, reports Simon Parkinson.

Stung by a start to their Toolstation Premier Division campaign which reaped four straight defeats, all by 2-1 scorelines and including an FA Cup exit at Didcot, Andy Gurney and his management team were left scratching their heads for a solution to exasperating and unforeseen early difficulties.

Yet from the moment they came away from Clevedon Town with FA Vase victory by yet another 2-1 outcome as though luck would have it, Saints have looked a revitalised team and intent on climbing the table and extending their stay in this season’s prestigious national tournament.

That win in North Somerset was followed up by an 8-0 crushing of Wellington on the Oaklands Park 3G back in the league, whilst a 3-2 away success in Devon over Ivybridge in the Vase once more secured Saints a first round proper place.

Wellington were then once more given the boot by Gurney’s men, this time in 3-0 midweek mode on their Les Phillips Cup preliminary round travels.

Four straight losses to four straight wins, then; putting the Saints contingent, not least ambitious long-serving chairman and successful former manager Roger Hudd, in much better heart for the challenges in store.

Assistant boss Greening concurs and believes he knows a key reason for the improvement.

“We’ve made some good signings and it’s helped a lot,” he said. “Kye Simpson, Josh Morgan-Williams and Harry Haughton have come in and shown already what we know they can do.

“Kye played for Evesham United last year, having previously been with Mangotsfield and Odd Down where he won our league with them (in 2016).

“He was with us over pre-season when Cinderford came in for him. He wanted to give it a go there but it didn’t work out for him, so he was good to his word and came back to us. He’s been playing as part of a front three, which involves George Box, Ryan Radford and George Lloyd.

“I made a mistake with Josh as I turned him down in the summer. That came back to bite me as he was outstanding against us on the opening day, so I’m delighted he’s with us now.

“As an attacking midfielder you want him on the ball and he just needs to settle somewhere now for the next couple of years as he’s drifted here, there and everywhere. But his ability is unquestioned.

“Harry is an energetic box-to-box midfielder and a very good footballer who was released by Yeovil and spent the end of last season with Manor Farm and pre-season at Melksham.”

Greening continued: “The only lads left from last season were Ryan Radford, Sam Wentland, Matt Guy, Lewis Wentland and Ken Oni, and the latter three have all been injured.

“We didn’t need a massive shake-up as aside from the first half of our second game, at Hallen, we’ve never been outplayed. But we clearly needed that extra quality and these three new lads have made a real difference, although we’re not saying we’ve conquered it by any stretch.

“As a club we want to be pushing for consistent top-six status and in the long term strive for the Southern League, which our chairman Roger Hudd leaves us in no doubt he’s keen to achieve.

“We’re pleased and encouraged with how it’s going, though, and having Grantley Dicks in now from Hengrove to replace David Doe as first team coach, and a new physio/coach in Tom Goard, have benefited us too.”

Roman Glass are to face Malmesbury Victoria at the Hellenic League One West outfit’s Wiltshire home in that Vase first round proper affair on Saturday, October 12.

Greening admitted: “We underperformed a bit in the last round at Ivybridge but managed to get through with a 96th-minute winner.

“It’s another sign that the winning habit is slowly coming back in the changing room.”

It’s a right royal rollercoaster as Ray strives to nip Hallen inconsistencies in the bud

HALLEN manager Ray Johnston isn’t quite sure whether to laugh or cry at this time as he tries to find that holy grail all leaders in his position covet – consistency!

The Moorhouse Lane side have experienced a truly helter-skelter time of it under the successful former Odd Down supremo’s stewardship so far this season.

And by Johnston’s own admission he’s not quite sure what to make of it all!

 “We seem to take one step forward and two back and it’s a bit frustrating as I feel we have the ingredients to be truly competitive at this level,” he remarked.

“Just when you think you’ve cracked it, football has a habit of turning round and slapping you in the face.

“For example, we turned in our best performance since I’ve been at the club to win 3-1 at Westbury recently and then we were 1-0 up at Tavistock in our next game in the Vase and never looking in any danger, only to get caught playing silly passes, conceding an equaliser just before half-time and never recovering to lose 4-1.

“Play like we did against Westbury and we’ll be a match for anyone in our league but we do need to address our consistency and concentration levels.”

Johnston, who has re-signed Scott Thomas after the centre-half recovered from a career-threatening ankle condition, added: “We’ve brought in Rob Latham, a towering forward fresh out of university who scored in the last minute as a sub at Westbury and in the first minute from the start at Tavistock!

“He’s a good, honest, hard-working lad who is raw but bright enough to learn.”

Latham was on target again with an acrobatic overhead kick for hosts Hallen to fire them in front in a quite remarkable ding-dong Toolstation Prem joust with the league’s much-fancied title contenders Bridgwater Town on Saturday, September 14.

Ten goals later and the ambitious Somerset side were instead celebrating a 6-4 win, Kyle Thomas’ hat-trick exploits for Hallen all in vain.

It led to this tweet from the frustrated home camp, as though to validate the manager’s aforementioned assertions: “10 goals at Moorhouse Lane today which was no doubt a great watch for supporters. But to score 4 goals at home, create so many chances & come away with nothing is crazy.

“Poor defending & individual errors killed us.”

Meanwhile, Hallen are seeking a matchday physio to attend first team games.

Andy encouraged as Bradbury’s Rockleaze boys strive for new County League heights

ROCKLEAZE Rangers chairman Andy Myland believes his club can look forward to an exciting future on the strength of ongoing activity on and off the pitch, writes Simon Parkinson.

While manager Peter Bradbury strives to turn his first team into a genuine Marcliff Gloucestershire County League force on the back of last season’s commendable fourth-spot finish, Rangers chiefs continue to add more pieces to the jigsaw with a view to pushing them to greater heights over the next few years.

Long-serving 45-year-old clubman and former player Myland insisted: “We’re bucking the trend a bit and growing as a club. We had up to 65 players training with our senior sides over pre-season but we have around 90 registered altogether.

“That’s helped by the fact we’ve just started up a new senior fifth side – a C team – which will kick off soon in the basement division of the Bristol Suburban League under the leadership of Jerry-Rae Screen, who has played with various local sides and even refereed on the Bristol Downs and in junior football.

“We had a £200 Grow the Game grant from Gloucestershire FA to help us set up that new team, whilst things are looking good for our reserves too as our previous management team of Rodney Coke, Roger Coke and Sav Parinello, who had left us to join Hambrook three seasons ago, are back running it.

“It’s brilliant news: Rodney had continued to play for our vets team on a Sunday anyway and they’re all proper Rockleaze men who understand the ethos of the club.”

The one-time Coombe Dingle-based Rockleaze relocated in November to a brand-new UWE facility at Hillside Gardens in Hambrook, which incorporates two artificial surfaces and a grass pitch. It’s a state-of-the-art HQ Rangers hope will act as a springboard to bigger and better stages on the local football pyramid.

“The new ground has definitely enhanced the club and our prospects and we’ve attracted more players because of it, although we are still learning how to use the artificial surface to our advantage,” Myland admitted.

“There’s no timescale when it comes to progression to higher-level football. There is still a little work to do on the ground, including installing bar facilities which I know UWE are looking to get in place.

“I know Peter (Bradbury), who has done a really good job as manager since coming in from our reserves at the start of last season after a difficult previous year to get us to fourth in the table and surpass our expectations, is very keen to push us on and would love to see us in the Western or Hellenic League.”

Bradbury strengthened his squad over the summer with central midfielder Sam Bailey and centre-back Cameron Love arriving from Cadbury Heath, along with Wick’s right wing-back Harry Madge; central midfielder Jake Hannam from Henbury plus full-back Dean Breed, a recent newcomer to the area having performed at a similar level of the game in the South East.

“It always takes time for players to bed in and holiday season has only just left us, so that’s possibly contributed to our mixed start after what was a fantastic 3-0 win at a decent Hardwicke side in our first game,” Myland reasoned.

Selman: We’re very much in business and targeting Premier Combination status again

ROB Selman says Stapleton are very much in business still and determined to stake a claim for Bristol Premier Combination status once more, writes Simon Parkinson.

The club, based at Begbrook Green Park, enjoyed unprecedented success over a seven-year period, culminating in promotion to the Combination’s top flight in 2017-18 as runners-up to champions Seymour United under Selman’s stewardship in their very first season in Division One, having gained access to the league as winners of the Bristol and District Senior Division crown the previous term.

After finishing up a creditable sixth in the Combination’s Premier Division standings last season, Stapleton officials took the hard decision to remove their flagship first XI from the league altogether in order to focus fully on overseeing the fortunes of their one existing team operating still in District League Division One.

Selman, now serving as No.2 to Mark Linton, had been assisted at the Stapleton helm by fellow club founder and secretary Ian Thorne.

He acknowledged: “We have had seven fantastic seasons until now, winning six league titles, finishing as runners-up three times and winning three cups between our two teams over that period. I think that record would be hard pushed to be beaten by anyone over a seven-year stretch.

“We reached our goal last season by competing in the Premier Combination’s top division and finishing a respectable sixth in what is a very good league.

“Unfortunately, as a club, we cannot progress any further due to our facilities at Begbrook Green and some of the younger players decided to leave us to play at a higher standard.

“We also had several players who couldn’t commit every week going forward.”

Selman accepted: Sadly Stapleton are not the only club struggling to get commitment from players at grassroots level.

“But we are now looking to regroup and build again in District One with the group of players left from both teams.

“And with the backing of our sponsors Imperial Developments and SM Gauge Company Ltd, who have been very good to Stapleton over the last few years, we hope to climb back to the Bristol Premier Combination once more.”

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