PREVIEW: Beds County Football League
The centre of attention this weekend switches to the opening round ties in the Britannia, Centenary and Jubilee Cups plus the staging of eight Watson Shield second round games, writes Peter Francis.
With their indifferent league form seemingly having put paid to their hopes of a first ever Premier Division supported by Sportsform league title, AFC Oakley Sports & M&DH will commence their quest for a third successive Britannia Cup win last achieved by Biggleswade United in the period between 1993 and 1996 with a trip on the road to face a Marston Shelton Rovers side at their Playing Field headquarters where they have been beaten just the once this season.
For seven times winners Caldecote, it’s also a trip on the road to Jubilee Playing Fields to take on a Wilstead side who have already netted a league double over them this season and perhaps could be the dark horses to lift the cup for the first time since their only success back in season 1991-92.
Over at Greenfields, Shillington having scored a 4-0 league win at the same venue over visitors Flitwick Town back in early November will feel confident of placing their name in the hat for the quarter-final draw as will Wootton Blue Cross when they entertain a Lidlington United Sports side they removed from the Bedfordshire FA Senior Trophy just a month ago.
The other two ties look more closer to call though as at Renhold Playing Fields, hosts Renhold United will seek revenge for their 5-4 home defeat when Ickwell & Old Warden pay them another visit.
Whilst at their own Playing Field headquarters, Pavenham will likewise seek revenge for their 5-3 home defeat in early November when Shefford Town & Campton call upon them for the second time this season.
The current holders of the Centenary Cup are Henlow and they will start their defence of the cup with a visit to Crawley Road to be hosted by a Woburn Lions side they have already beaten twice this season, once in the league and once in the Bedfordshire FA Intermediate Cup.
Whilst last seasons runners-up Elstow Abbey head for Rectory Road and a meeting against a Shefford Town & Campton Reserves side they beat in league action at the same venue in early November.
For 2007-08 season winners Bedford Sports Athletic, it’s a trip to Woodlands to face home side Brickhill Tigers who will look for a repeat of their 4-0 league win over them in mid-September at the same venue.
Whilst at Stonefields, AFC Turvey have dropped just two league points this season but that was to their visitors Eastcotts AFC in a 2-2 draw in mid-October so perhaps this tie is far from the home banker it looks on paper.
Over at Alexander Sports Centre the visitors to face hosts Goldington are a Sandy side quite capable of pulling off a minor shock result and in Stockwood Park, Sundon Park Rangers meet Marabese Ceramics for the third time this season with the current score level all square after they both won their home league games by the same 2-1 scoreline.
With current Jubilee Cup holders Marabese Ceramics now in Division One and playing in the Centenary Cup this season, last seasons runners-up AFC Oakley Sports M&DH Reserves will be expected to progress into the last eight when they receive a visit from last seasons Watson Shield winners Renhold United Reserves at their Playing Field headquarters. Whilst at Hillgrounds, AFC Kempston Town & Bedford College Reserves having pulled off a shock league win over them in mid-November will look to repeat the trick when called upon by Clifton.
Other action comes at Crawley Road, the venue at which Cranfield United face a AFC Harlington side they beat in league action 1-0 in late November.
Whilst in Mowsbury Park, Queens Park Crescents also look for the second home win of the season over Kings AFC who they beat 3-1 in league action back in late September.
The final tie comes at The Hollow, the venue at which Potton United Reserves will be looking for their first home win of the season against the visiting Co-Op Sports.
In the Watson Shield, its second round day and the quest for a place in the last eight.
Of the eight ties, five will provide a chance for a spot of giant-killing with clashes between sides from Division Four and Division Three.
Four of the lower division sides also having home advantage and perhaps the best chance of an upset could either be at Moore Crescent where FC Houghton host Kempston Hammers Sports or at Steppingley Road, the venue at which Dinamo Flitwick entertain Wilstead Reserves.
Of the other two Division Four sides at home, Moggerhanger United at their Playing Field headquarters against Kempston Con Club Sports and Shefford Town & Campton A at Digswell Playing Fields against Stevington you would feel it will be visitors who will start the day favourites to progress into the hat for the quarter-final draw.
However, for Division Four Mid Beds Tigers it’s a trip on the road to the Hockey Centre where hosts Bedford Panthers will start the day firm favourites.
Two of the other three ties are all Division Three encounters as on The Green, Ickwell & Old Warden Reserves host Clifton Reserves and at Miller Road, Meltis Albion receive a visit from Marston Shelton Rovers Reserves, where in both ties you would expect to see the home sides name in the hat for the next round draw.
At Harvey Close, it’s an all Division Four affair between hosts Caldecote A and the visiting Clapham Sports.
Please note all these cup ties are scheduled to kick off at 1.30pm to make provision for extra time and a possible penalty shoot-out.
With all this cup and shield action taking place the league programme is down to just five games.
In Division Two the lone game comes at Fisher Close where hosts Great Barford receive a visit from a yet to win on the road this season Riseley Sports.
A comment that also applies to AFC Bush who head to The Warren to face Elstow Abbey Reserves in the lone Division Three encounter of the day.
In Division Four it’s a programme of three games in which you would expect the visitors to collect or at least gain a share of the points on offer.
At Harrowden School, the visitors to face Atletico Europa are Cranfield United Reserves, while at Redborne School, it will be a major shock if Meltis Albion Reserves fail to collect the full three points from their hosts Flitwick Town Reserves and at Bedford Road Recreation Ground, Sandy Reserves will be entertaining Wootton Village.