Title Race is Going to the Wire in Ryman Premier
St George’s Day will see a huge battle for the top spot in the Ryman Isthmian Premier Division.
It’s a two horse race between Hampton & Richmond Borough and Bognor Regis Town for the title. Alan Dowson’s Beavers are three points clear of The Rocks, and have a goal difference four better than that of Town. As I’m sure you’ve figured out, Hampton have their fate in their own hands. Avoid defeat and win the title, and with it promotion to National League South. Simple. However, their final game is against Enfield Town, who themselves need a win to have any chance of finishing in the playoffs. Home advantage could be key for Hampton, as a bumper Beveree crowd is expected. Hampton have been top for some time now, playing great football and banging in plenty of goals along the way, and they will be keen to get the job done, especially as ‘Dowse’ promised promotion before the season!
The Beavers are in excellent form – especially at home – where they have not lost in eighteen games, winning sixteen of those. They did lose twice at Beveree at the start of the season, however; 1-2 against Grays, and 0-4 against Lewes, one of only two wins on the road for the relegated club from the Dripping Pan. Dowson will be happy to have the matter in their own hands, and I’m sure he’s spent all week drilling into his players what is needed. Make no mistake, he will not be playing for a draw. He will set the team up to win the game, and get the job done.
Bognor, meanwhile, host Hendon FC on Saturday. The game will be Town’s eighth in twenty one days in April (they also played ten matches in March) due largely to their fantastic cup runs this season, culminating in an FA Trophy semifinal against Grimsby Town last month. After a poor Easter which saw them lose three in a row, and seemingly out of the title reckoning, Jamie Howell’s side have since won their last five to put themselves in a position to capitalise should Hampton slip up. To do so, they would need to win, Hampton lose, and a five goal swing in the goal difference. However, unlike Hampton, Bognor are playing a team with nothing left to play for. Wednesday night saw twentieth placed Burgess Hill Town host Hendon, who before the match lay in nineteenth. The away team grabbed the spoils thanks to a goal seven minutes from time, and with it assured their place in the division next season. Bognor will now be confident of bagging the goals they need to eradicate the goal difference and hope Enfield can cause the shock at Hampton.
I don’t want to make a prediction here, being a supporter of Hampton as most of you will be aware. The one thing I would say is that I fully expect Bognor Regis Town to do their bit and beat Hendon by at least three goals, especially with 34-goal Jason Prior in excellent form.
Whatever happens, it is sure to be a nervy and tense afternoon at both Beveree Stadium and Nyewood Lane.
Follow all the action on Twitter by following the club’s official accounts, @hrbfc and @rocks1883. The game will also be broadcast live on Radio Wey, an excellent volunteer run internet radio station that covers sport every week in Middlesex, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire. Log onto www.radiowey.co.uk and listen to all the turmoil unfold live!