Essex Senior League 2018-19: Preview (3.8.18) (ESL 3.8.18)

Written by Scott W & Peter D

Hello and welcome to the new season of our Essex Senior League Predictions, as Peter and Scott once again go head-to-head, offering their thoughts on the various fixtures the ESL throws up every week.

In case you haven’t heard, there are four new sides joining the league this season and they are Hoddesdon Town, Saffron Walden Town, St Margaretsbury and Stanway Rovers. Also, two sides from last season’s ESL have changed their name – as Wadham Lodge have now become Leyton Athletic and Waltham Forest FC is now known as Walthamstow FC.

Have a peek at the lads’ thoughts on the opening weekend’s action of the 2018-19 campaign.

Friday 3rd August

Woodford Town  v   Leyton Athletic     | Venue: The Harlow Arena

Pete: Woodford begin their latest season at another home on the 3G of the Harlow Arena, and they welcome a side who are also entering a new era after the previously-known Wadham Lodge changed their name to Leyton Athletic.  Quite what that means in terms of how this game will go is anyone’s guess, however if Woodford can continue the form they showed last season, I expect them to edge this one, but it really is hard to tell with it being the first game of the season.

Pete’s Prediction: 2 – 1

Scott: Woodford entertain Leyton Athletic in the season opener at their new temporary home of the Harlow Arena. Both sides are starting the 2018-19 season with changes to their respective squads though Leyton will want to start well, given their repreive by the FA last month, which averted the drop to the Eastern Senior League Southern division. That said, I reckon the hosts may fancy this one and therefore may grab the points.

Scott’s Prediction: 2 – 1

Saturday 4th August

Clapton    v     Tower Hamlets    | Venue: Old Spotted Dog

Pete: The Tons begin their new season at home and most likely with no protests going on outside the ground after the ‘Ultras’ moved on to create their own community club, and the club have also brought in a new chairman too, although Vince remains behind the scenes there.  However, forgetting all the politics, the team on-the-field will look to start the season well, however they come up against a Hamlets side under the guidance of AJ and co, and with some decent signings under their belts too.  Again another hard one to call but gonna go for a draw.

Pete’s Prediction: 1 – 1

Scott: This intriguing tie brings together two teams who will want to start the season well and both enter new eras. Clapton have appointed ex-United London FC man Mark North as their new Chairman while Hamlets move on after changes off-the-pitch and also manager AJ Ashinike enters his first full season in charge as player-manager.

Clapton have brought back Jeff Cobblah and Ryan Reed to the squad while Hamlets have managed to entice the likes of Sipho Mtyanda, Luke Thomas and Eden Nelson through their managers’ connections. Another hard one to call though the changes in forward options for Hamlets may affect them heavily early-doors. Narrow home win.

Scott’ Prediction: 2 – 1

Hullbridge Sports  v   Barkingside   | Venue: Lower Road

Pete: Sports began their competitive action in midweek and needed penalties to squeeze past Essex and Suffolk Border League Premier side Great Bentley in what was at times an abject display.  However, Sports have assembled a decent squad and are quietly confident of a decent showing this season, but the same can be said of Barkingside who under the stewardship of Michael Walther will no doubt make a much better fist of it this season. Have a sneaky feeling the Cricklefield-based side may edge this one.

Pete’s Prediction: 1 – 2

Scott: Hullbridge kick off their league campaign after they needed penalties to overcome Essex & Suffolk Border League Premier side Great Bentley in the Tolleshunt D’Arcy Memorial Trophy in midweek. They face Michael Walther’s Barkingside in an interesting opener. Darren Manning’s side are gunning for a much better season this time around and although they have amassed a very decent-looking squad, the points they get will ultimately tell the story.  Barkingside have brought in ex-Clapton & Hamlets midfielder Jerry Jairette this week to assist their young squad.

You sense that Hullbridge are building something good at their upgraded ground and they will certainly be keen to make it a fortress on-the-pitch as well. Will be tough to grab all three points though am suspecting ‘Bridge will pinch it.

Scott’s Prediction: 2 – 1

Ilford   v   Stansted   | Venue: Cricklefield

Pete: Ilford begin a new era with a tough home game against Stansted although the fact that quite a few of the new squad played together at Waltham Abbey Reserves may help their cause.  The Airportmen have strengthed well in the summer and will no doubt pose a bigger threat than last season and will surely finish much higher up the table.  Got a feeling this could also be a narrow away win.

Pete’s Prediction: 1 – 2

Scott: Another two teams who have had squad overhauls meet at Cricklefield. Ilford waved goodbye to former co-managers Billy Cove and Allan Fenn in May before an exodus from Waltham Abbey Reserves (both playing staff and behind-the-scenes staff too) rocked up, with Martin Haywood once again in charge. The big question for the new Foxes squad is “will they make the step up to Senior football?”

Stansted meanwhile have added a few recruits such as defender Liam Thomas and forward Carl Mullings though the most important news of the summer could be the amount of players the Airportmen have managed to keep hold of. Granted, they lost Pappa Asamoah to Basildon Utd though on the whole, they will look for a better season than last term. I”m going plump for a away win here.

Scott’s Prediction: 1 – 2

Redbridge   v    Saffron Walden Town   | Venue: Oakside

Pete: This for me is ‘game of the day’ as The Motormen hosts ESL new boys Saffron Walden Town and with both sides expected to do well this season, this could set the benchmark for either side.  Redbridge have lost a few key players from last season but still boast a strong enough squad, whilst Walden also have a good squad capable of challenging at the right end of the table, so this one is a hard one to call.  Score draw I’d say.

Pete’s Prediction: 2 – 2

Scott: Saffron Walden return to the Essex Senior League fold with a trip to Oakside. Redbridge have seen the likes of Moses, Mtyanda, Worrell and Sykes depart during the close-season and it will be interesting how Ricky Eaton & Joey May’s side recover in the early stages of the new campaign.

Saffron Walden may well fancy their chances of being among the ‘big-hitters’ near the summit come April, though this fascinating encounter may provoke some interested glances from rival teams as well. Very tough to gauge this one, will plump for a narrow away win.

Scott’s Prediction: 0 – 1

Southend Manor   v  Enfield 1893   | Venue: Southchurch Park

Pete: This game was switched from a Enfield home game in Harlow to an away game on the Essex Riviera, due to Harlow having a home pre-season contest on the same day.  Whether this makes any difference to the outcome remains to be seen, although the game will be played on a dry, dusty pitch no doubt rather than a lovely 3G surface, so this may suit the hosts more.  No doubt it will be a battle out there but some fancy Enfield to do well this season, and I feel they may start with a win here.

Pete’s Prediction: 0 – 2

Scott: This fixture was originally set for the Harlow Arena though due to a fixture clash, it’s been ‘reversed’ to take place at Southchurch Park. Manor have retained most of their young squad from last season and will want to get off to a good start though the same can also be said of the E’s as well although their brillant late-season charge saw them end up in the top-half last term.

That counts for nowt though now, and I feel the visitors may edge a hard-fought encounter here.

Scott’s Prediction: 1 – 2

Stanway Rovers   v   Takeley    | Venue: Hawthorns

Pete: Stanway begin life in the ESL with a much-changed squad from their previous season after mananger Kem Izzet left, and quite a few players have come in from Braintree Town Reserves, who were Step Six last season, so can they adapt to the new level.  They certainly couldn’t have picked a more difficult opponent to start off against in the shape of Takeley, who again are expected to be one of the front runners, and with the returning Charlie Cole and the addition of Josh Sykes, scoring goals won’t be a problem.  Away win here I feel.

Pete’s Prediction: 0 – 2

Scott: Another fascinating tie takes place at the Hawthorns. Stanway make their return to the ESL under new boss Lee Fisher who replaced Kem Izzet in the summer. They entertain a Takeley side that is looked at as one of the front-runners for promotion, especially given they have managed to convince forward Charlie Cole to return after a season on Billericay’s books (although the majority of that was on loan at Hertford Town in Bostik North).

Marc Das’ side has also retained the core of their squad from last season and it would be a surprise if they didn’t pick up the three points here.

Scott’s Prediction: 0 – 2

Walthamstow   v   Hoddesdon Town    | Venue: Kitchener Road

Pete: Walthamstow begin competitive life under their new name with a visit from ESL newboys Hoddesdon Town at the Matchday Centre.  Stow have signed some good players over the summer and are many peoples’ dark horses for a crack at the summit of the table, whilst Hoddesdon are somewhat of an unknown to many in this league, although do boast a decent record in the Spartan South Midlands league, which is a tough league, so no doubt they can provide a challenge to most.  However, I reckon the hosts will prevail here.

Pete’s Prediction: 3 – 1

Scott: Walthamstow entertain newcomers Hoddesdon at Kitchener Road. The hosts will be hoping for a much brighter season given their noticable transfer activity in the off-season. Town will have to deal with the likes of Christian Owusu and James Peagram to get anything out of this match I feel and if the ‘Waltham Rabble’ get behind ‘Stow early-doors, Ryan Maxwell’s side could well be up there in the ‘title picture’ later in the season. For now though, they will have to start ‘building blocks’ and this tie against a Hoddesdon side that may experience ‘growing pains’ in the early stages of the season may be a good one to have. Home win.

Scott’s Prediction: 2 – 0

West Essex   v   Sawbridgeworth Town   | Venue: Mayesbrook Park

Pete: The hosts begin life without Michael Mignot with a visit from Sawbridgeworth Town in their opening game of the new season.  The Robins have already played some competitive action in midweek and lost narrowly to London Colney in the Herts Charity Shield but would have taken plenty from that game no doubt.  The hosts have had to adapt to the loss of Mignot but feel confident of another decent showing after last season’s superb 7th finish, and they still have plenty of decent players to help achieve this for them.  Have this one down as a score draw though.

Pete’s Prediction: 2 – 2

Scott: West Essex welcome Sawbridgeworth to Mayesbrook Park in their season debut. The Stags saw talismanic forward Mignot depart for Grays Athletic along with popular, long-serving assistant boss Gary Lefley in the summer. George Karsa returns to assist boss Kwame Kwateng. In my view, matching last season’s superb 7th-placed finish will be very tough unless they ‘spread out’ the goal-scorers somewhat.

This match is another interesting battle as Sawbridgeworth have also added signings in what is manager John Watters’ first season in sole charge. The challenge for Sawbo is to match or better their 8th-placed finish from last term in another highly-competitive division. I can well see this one being an entertaining draw.

Scott’s Prediction: 2 – 2

That’s all for this week, next week we return with an FA Cup Extra Prelim Round special!

Author: survivor16b

I'm a Mental Health survivor (been surviving for years) & campaigner. I also like Music & Sport. This blog is centred on all things Non-League Football, mainly Match Reports of matches I've seen (mainly Essex Senior League (ESL) but also other Leagues) though it also houses the regular round-up's of the ESL action plus the Essex Olympian League divisions regularly. It also has the odd post about the scary world that we're all in, talking from a Mental Health perspective. Thank you for reading.

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