After a well-deserved break over the festive period, the ESPFA is back this week with a jam-packed fixture list! We preview all the action ahead of Thursdays games.
Rushall Olympic (Black) v Rushall Olympic (Amber)
The South Division plays host to the ‘Key Matchup’ this week with bragging rights on the line as Rushall Olympic (Black) face Rushall Olympic (Amber). The amber cohort are flying high at the top of the South Division having picked up 16 points from a possible 18 in their first six games. Rushall Olympic (Black) on the other hand currently sit in third place but have played the most games out of anyone in the division. They enjoyed a brilliant run of form in October and November but finished the calendar year with two defeats. These two sides met in the last game of 2021 and it was Rushall Olympic (Amber) who were the victors on that occasion, with Tyrese Hall scoring four goals in an 8-2 win.
Despite these two sides being very familiar with each other, there will be no love lost in this fixture with both teams being desperate to start the year off with a win and firm up their places in the division. Joe Millward, the Rushall Olympic (Black) goalkeeper is excited to get back playing this week and believes his team are preparing for the game in the right way. He said: “I can’t wait to get back on the pitch, and the boys are ready too. We are ready to get back into it. A lot of the lads have been looking forward to getting back into the season since we broke up for Christmas. We've all been doing some running over the holiday and preparing for the first game back. We can’t wait to step back out on the pitch.” Joe believes that despite two losses recently, his team are in a strong position in the division and learning from the previous matchup against Rushall Olympic (Amber) can help his side. “I think it is very important [to start the year with a win]. Both losses we picked up recently were against first and second, but we need to focus on keeping our heads high and getting back to winning ways.”
Ossett United v Skelmersdale United
Third place Skelmersdale United travel to fourth place Ossett United in a match that could have real implications on the final division standings. Skem sit in third on 13 points with Ossett one place, and three points behind them on 10. A win for Ossett united wouldn’t take them up to the third as the #ESPFALancashire side have a much better goal difference but would really put the pressure on going in to the final few four division games. Skelmersdale United do have the chance to move up into second if they were to claim all three points as Brighouse Town’s (Who they are level on points with) fixture is in the North Cup this week.
Runcorn Linnets v Witton Albion
The runaway league leaders Runcorn welcome fellow #ESPFACheshire side Witton Albion on Thursday, looking to extend their perfect division form to eight wins from eight. Witton on the other hand are still looking for their first win of the season. They have been tough to beat, having had eight draws so far this season and only three teams have conceded less goals than them. The feeling within the Witton camp is they have been unlucky with results so far this season, but they need to turn their strong performances into wins during the final third of the season.
Kidlington v Frome
Kidlington find themselves in second place in the South Division, level on points with Rushall Olympic (Amber) although ‘The Greens’ have played one more game than the #ESPFAWestMidlands side. This is a must win game for Kidlington if they want to keep up their chances of topping the division. Frome Town on the other hand are currently 6th in the division but have played the least amount of games in the division. A win for The Robins could see them move up to fourth if results go their way and could really kick start their season.
Belper Town v Mickleover
Both teams are kicking off their North Cup campaign in this matchup that sees Belper Town host Mickleover. The #ESPFADerbyshire rivals have met twice in the past month, with Mickleover coming out on top with a 6-2 win in #MatchweekTen and a 0-0 stalemate in #MatchweekSeven.
Brighouse Town v Carlton Town
Brighouse Town continue their cup run on Thursday as they welcome Carlton Town to the Yorkshire Payments Stadium. The #WestYorkshire side got off to a disappointing start in the cup after Skelmersdale United beat them 4-0 so will be looking to get back to winning ways. Carlton Town on the other hand face a fresh challenge in the North Cup after what has been a difficult Division campaign for them so far. Facing Brighouse Town for the first time this season could give them a lift in motivation as they begin their cup run.
Yate Town v Chesham United
Yate Town continue their cup run against Chesham United after starting with a win on #MatchweekEleven against Frome Town. Chesham are yet to start their cup campaign and will be hoping to kick it off with a win against a familiar enemy in Yate Town. The sides have already faced of twice in the division, with two close contested games ending in a 1-1 draw and a 2-1 Yate Town win. This is set up to be another highly competitive fixture with the drama of the cup adding to what will already be a mouth-watering tie.