Don’t count your chickens before the eggs are cooked. Or something like that…welcome to the (belated) TVPL mid-season review where we’ll run our beadys over each division, acknowledge our pre-season tips as horrific and smile upon those chasing down divisional titles. And remember, it’s tongue in cheek…
Titles can’t be won and lost pre-Xmas – didn’t Liverpool lose the title on Thursday? – but they can be won after!!!
Division 4 is Datchet Village’s to lose as the newcomers to the TVPL are flying. 100% with 6 from 6 and an average of 5 goals per game. They sit 2nd behind Berks County Rovers but have already beaten their main rivals 8-2 in mid-Nov, a win that gives us all we need to back our claim from the summer (we’ll get this one right!!). The Datchet boys also have a Berks & Bucks Quarter Final to look forward to along with a Junior League Cup semi-final place to celebrate.
Rovers, who lead the way with 22pts from 10 games and look good for a promotion push (we called this too!) but will face stern competition from Maynard’s Mavericks whose 6 wins from 9 was perhaps unexpected, but certainly deserved…a D3 spot is in their sights but can the youngsters stay consistent? Rovers have also worked their way to the Junior League Cup semi-finals so a good season is on the cards.
A little mention to Westwood Dev side here as their debut season has been very good with the youngsters sitting 4th with a 50% win record.
We’ll stick with our predictions here; Datchet to win it (perhaps unbeaten?) with Rovers 2nd and, due to our 3rd tip not partaking this term, we’ll go Farnham Mavericks for promo too.
Into Division 3 and we said it was wiiiiiide open (exact quote) and the promotion race will be!
We have leaders and they now sit as heavy favourite; Berks County Ressies. Called them as challengers but that was before we knew an EBFL goalgetter had joined their ranks. Carl Elcombe sits top of the Goal Charts with 11 in 10 games and a raft of new faces sees the County top the pile on their almost accredited 3G surface. Another team with a title to lose we reckon, but can they keep everyone happy???
The promotion spots are tight. Woodley A sit second after a strong start, a side that can grind out wins and battle well. TVPL newcomers Hambleden probably sit best placed to challenge County as their GD is 16 better than Wooders and with a bunch of ‘bigger boys’, Hambles are no shambles as they scramble(s) to, er, the, brambles? A decent side, we think the Dons will surpass Woodley over the coming weeks, but the Bulmershe Pavilion crowds will not be disappointed come May…
Henley have been a little disappointing so far but with games in hand, they could rise quickly and Taplow A haven’t quite got going but sit well in touch, goals from Charlie Hill always keeping them as contenders but will a Reading Cup semi and League Cup quarter get in the way?
We’ll revise our predictions slightly with County taking the crown, Pangbourne ending 2nd with either Woodley or Taplow taking promotion. But tight.
Division 2 is over. Welcome Mortimer Village Ressies to the winners parade as their strikeforce is blowing teams away. Sitting top and unbeaten after 10, they have already put away their rivals Woodcote Reserves 5-3 and with 43 goals already, the title will be heading to the Ade Keep Fortress by around March. We called their challenge by the way.
On their Cote tails are Woodcote who, after setting the pace early on, have seen 3 losses in thier last 5 and competition from the chasing pack for a promotion place. Probably favs to hang on to that runner-up spot, but others are chomping…
Wargrave are best placed to immediately challenge but they need to continue pre-Xmas form, while debutants Phoenix OB & Richings Park, along with Hurst Ressies, all have games in hand over the 2nd placed side and a run of a few wins will propel anyone up this table.
This really is a Division where 3 wins makes a big difference. Will anyone take up the challenge?
Winners are Mortimer. Woodcote will earn promotion & we tip Phoenix to rise from the as…yea, ok, bad joke. But it will happen. Ish.
Division One anyone? Well, our pre-season Newbury nap shows no sign of burning out as Langers’ Lads sit top, 8 form 8 with 3 cups competitions still live. Wow. But perhaps the shock isn’t the goals scored, but only the 4 league goals conceded! We all know Newbury are a challenging Premier team but their ground situation was out of their control and top marks for knuckling down and beating the teams they face. Can they go unbeaten?
Perhaps the surprise of the Division so far are Maidenhead Town. With Bisham’s #thecarpet to enjoy, no wonder Rumble’s Entertainers are playing lovely, attacking football. A shaky start under new stewardship has disappeared and after beating the excellent Imaan Lions 5-0 to sit second at the Xmas break, could we see an unexpected challenge to Newbury?
We called Imaan at the start of the season and Imran’s Army haven’t disappointed as they sit 3rd with a game in hand over Town and some big wins in the bag leave the Lions best placed to hunt down Newbury. There is a Senior League Cup Quarter final to provide an opportunity to take on Premier sides to show their capacity to hold their own in the top flight next season.
Finchampstead and Cookham Dean Ressies sit as the only other sides with realistic hopes of taking on the top 3 but while they both have 2 and 3 games in hand on the leading trio, they both sit 9 points behind 3rd place. Both have the players, both have the ability, but can either find the consistency to build the platform to challenge. A run of 4 or 5 wins will be what it takes we feel.
Hurst, Rotherfield and Westwood have had selected good results which will guarantee at least middle earth this term but again, all sides have the capacity to beat anyone on their day, but all 3 need strongest squads available more often than not.
The fight to avoid the drop will be between Eldon, White Eagles and surpisingly YMCA Rapids, whose clubs’ fortunes may have a huge impact on the Padworth Ballers, more on that very shortly…we see Lemm’s Men having too much strength to stay near the foot for long so expect results and points over the next few months. Eldon are another surprise as while they have lost some players to higher levels, there is still enough ability to push anyone.
We’ll stick with Newbury and given the table, we’ll plump for Imaan but under a strong challenge from MTFC and Finchampstead who will push hard over the second half of the season.
The Premier Division. The Kings are dead…long live the (insert team name)….!!!
With the huge news that Reading YMCA folded back in October, our Premier Division will have new champions for the first time since 2015, when Marlow United pipped the Champs in a brilliant title race.
It’s perennial Cup Kings Cookham Dean that lead the pack, sitting top at the half way stage with 9 wins from 13, heading a quartet that will take until April to sort out. The new management of Xavi Etienne has seen The Dean produce winning football, grinding out results while not playing at peak and nicking winners in tight games. It’s resulted in points, but the lowest GD in the Top 5, which could be crucial. Do they need to ‘go big’ and let the big guns of Lishman and Baker-Timms run rampage? We’ll see…
It’s Marlow United however that sit prettiest, albeit in 2nd place. Just a point behind the Dean but with 2 games in hand, the free-flowing attacking Machine is purring this season with just the one league loss. A fresh influx of players in the summer, along with a new groundshare at FC Marlow has given The Machine impetus and with Chris Hurst and Nile O’Meilly-Newell both in the Top 3 of the scorers charts, they have the firepower…the stage is set, can they take Centre???
Woodcote pushed YMCA so hard last term it’s no surprise to see them challenging again. A poor run in October returned just 1 league point from 9 which saw they slip behind, but Tucker’s goals and leadership will be important for the balance of term.
Perhaps the surprise in the leading group are Mortimer whose club recruitment has been exceptional, adding good players to a strong outfit. A Pre-Xmas run of 4 straight wins put the Villagers 4th, just 3 points off top spot. They have goals, they have the pitch, can they keep the big boys out at the other end? Be interesting finding out…
Wraysbury have goals but an early bang has dropped off, leaving them 5th and out of touch with the leading group. They are joined by Richings Park whose dismal start of 3 losses without a goal has been completely turned around, losing just one league game since 29th August! A brilliant achievement for the D1 Champs, but can they build to push for Europa League?
The bottom is tight (excuse the phrase) but given teams down here have games in hand, expect changes before May, we’ve no idea how this will pan out down here!!!
We have to go for Marlow but after a fantastic title race. Don’t ask who will come 2nd…
So there we are. Short and sweet, exactly unlike our TVPL League Meetings. We’ve no idea if people will like this or not. If you don’t, write a letter. Address it “Mr Cheer Up, 4 Get A Grip Drive, Lightenupsville, ForGodSakeShire”.