Bitton, Thornbury Town and Roman Glass St George ready for next key FA Vase tests
THREE Bristol-based clubs re-enter the FA Vase arena this Saturday, October 12 (3pm) eager to continue their journeys along Wembley way, writes Simon Parkinson.
Toolstation Premier Division sides Bitton and Roman Glass St George, and Hellenic Division One West high-fliers Thornbury Town, target a place in the second round of the competition in the knowledge there are seven hurdles yet to overcome before a dream place can be cemented at the home of English football.
Bitton’s status as a leading Step 5 club means they hit the national competition stage for the first time this term as they entertain Sydenhams Wessex League Premier Division outfit Tadley Calleva from Hampshire, currently situated 12th in their 20-team league with three wins, three draws and four defeats behind them.
Bath Road boss Dan Langdon admitted: “The only research we’ve done on them is online as we’ve not seen them play.
“I guess they’ll be a big, physical side as teams in that league tend to be but I’m comfortable just concentrating on us.
“It’s our chairman’s (Dan’s father John Langdon) dream to go all the way to Wembley and it’s doable, however tough it may be.”
Langdon has long made no secret of Bitton’s yearning for Southern League football although they approach the tie stung by a 2-1 Premier Division away defeat by Westbury United at the weekend for a third loss already this term, which has left them sixth in the current standings yet far from adrift of a pack presently led by Plymouth Parkway.
The Bitton boss has been active in the transfer market again too with Mangotsfield left-back Matt Tanner, Brislington forward Oaklan Buck, who is cup-tied for the game; much-travelled centre-forward Karim Rendall, who once scored the fastest hat-trick in English football – 96 seconds - while performing for Roman Glass, all aboard now and another Mangos man, fellow front-man Dan Demkiv, a potential capture.
Roman Glass, meantime, travel to take on a Malmesbury Victoria team currently topping Hellenic Division One West’s table whilst Saints sit second from bottom of the Toolstation Prem, despite an improvement in form of late.
Assistant manager Liam Greening pointed out: “Malmesbury were a real bogey team to us when they were in our league.
“They’ll relish being underdogs and they’ll come at us all guns blazing over the first 20 minutes when we can ill afford to give them or their supporters anything to get excited about,” warned the Saints No.2 who, along with boss Andy Gurney, has welcomed new and experienced centre-half Kai Fisher into the camp having once captained Barnstaple Town and performed for a string of other clubs including Buckland Athletic, Wellington, Bristol Manor Farm and Tiverton before a short stint with Evesham United.
Thornbury Town are thrilled to still be there after coming through two preliminary round games unscathed with 6-2 and 1-0 wins over Hellenic League compatriots Cheltenham Saracens and Wokingham & Emmbrook respectively.
Thorns are in Wiltshire on Saturday, October 12 for a first round proper encounter with Downton, who have made a bright start in the upper reaches of Sydenhams Wessex Division One, an amateur Step 6 league equivalent to Thorns’ own.
“We sent my assistant Gary Kemp down to watch them at the weekend play away at their league leaders Hythe & Dibden,” manager Jason Rees explained.
“Downton lost 4-2 for only their second defeat of the season so at least we know they are beatable and we’re on a good run too", acknowledged Rees, whose team’s 8-1 crushing of perennial strugglers New College Swindon last weekend put them level on points with Hereford Pegasus and pacesetting Malmesbury at the summit.
The Mundy Fields supremo is hopeful defender Joe Guest and keeper Kurtis Parkin can return to bolster his ranks after spells out.
- Read part two of the preview, looking at the Gloucestershire clubs competing in The Buildbase FA Vase here.