The first surprise on Saturday was that virtually all the league programme went ahead, with just one match being postponed. Given the rain throughout much of the day on Friday, more postponements were anticipated but the strong wind obviously did the trick.
Chertsey one again took the headlines with a 2-0 win up at Irlam near Manchester, as they defeated their North-West Counties opposition by two goals to nil. 449 people watched Chertsey take the lead early in the second half through Lubomir Guentchev, leaving Jake Baxter to clinch the win with 5 minutes left, from the penalty spot. A full match report can be found on the NW Counties League web site at http://www.hallmarksecurityleague.com/news-articles.php?id=7293
This now means that Chertsey have reached the quarter finals in which they will be away to West Auckland Town on Saturday 23 February. They are members of the Northern League, who have dominated the competition over many seasons. That is not quite as true this campaign as only West Auckland and Hebburn Town were still in it at the 5th Round stage and they were drawn together, with West Auckland coming out on top. At the time of writing, Chertsey’s opponents are not at the top of their league but are sitting in 8th position having won ten and lost eight of their 24 league matches to date. It will undoubtedly be a tough affair as West Auckland have twice reached the FA Vase Final, losing 0-2 to Dunston in 2012 and to Sholing, 0-1, in 2014. They also won the FA Amateur Cup in 1931. (info from the “Football Club History Database – thank you).
One spectator not present on Saturday who had intended to be there was League Chairman Chris Conlon, who was half way up, staying at his son’s in Preston only for his latest grandchild to be borne on the Saturday which meant alternative duties for the Chairman!
In the League, Sutton Common Rovers took advantage of the situation to put themselves at the top of the table with a 3-1 win over CB Hounslow. They then increased the lead to five points on Tuesday evening with a solitary goal win away to Southall. It was close though, with Southall hitting the woodwork with less than a minute left on the clock.
At the foot of the table, Walton & Hersham finally got themselves back on track, a very late goal giving them a 3-2 victory at Badshot Lea but they will need a sustained run if they are to avoid the drop to Step 6 at the end of the season. Hanworth Villa also arrested a losing run with a single goal win at Spelthorne and with just six points separating the bottom seven. All of them need points to avoid being dragged into the dogfight to avoid relegation.
In Division One, the main benefactors were Bedfont & Feltham, who took advantage of the Farnham v Sheerwater game being off and Frimley with no game, to go top of the table, with a 4-1 win over tenants British Airways, albeit on goal difference over Frimley, who have a game in hand though. With only one club guaranteed promotion, the battle at the top is intensifying, with just a single point separating the top three plus Epsom & Ewell and Farnham Town hovering just below them, although the latter did not help themselves on Tuesday evening, losing 1-4 away to Chessington.
Matters are equally tight at the bottom, with three clubs all on 15 points.
There was no good fortune for our two Division One clubs in County Cup semi-finals. In the Berks & Bucks Senior Trophy, Sandhurst went down 0-2 to Old Bradwell United whilst, in the London version, Erith& Belvedere got the better of Tooting Bec by the same scoreline.