Preview: Essex Senior League (Fri 4/Sat 5 Dec) [ESL 3.1.19]

Written by Peter D & Scott W

Hello & welcome to another of our Preview pieces with Non-League writers Peter Dudley & Scott W, looking at this weekend’s action in the Essex Senior League. What do you reckon to our thoughts on these ties? Thanks for reading and Happy New Year to all our readers.


Friday 4th January

Barkingside  v  Tower Hamlets   |  Cricklefield

Pete: ‘Side come into this one having won their last two in all competitions, and have also kept clean sheets in both, as their season finally gave them some cheer after what has been an awful one to now.  They take on a Hamlets side who have been resurgent lately, and two league wins from their last three suggests form is heading in the right direction.  They also thrashed Grays Reserves last time out in the Peter Butcher Memorial Trophy so confidence is high, and I do feel they may sneak this one.

Pete’s Predicition: 1 – 2


Scott: The weekend’s action starts at Cricklefield, where the crucial matches for ‘Side continue with this battle against neighbours Tower Hamlets. The home side are on a mini-upturn with two wins recently in league and cup over Leyton Ath and Sporting Bengal, both 1 – 0. The interesting thing will be how long can they maintain a miserly defence, given they are still five point adrift f nearest rivals Leyton and 12 points off two other clubs at the bottom.

Their opponents here are the inconsistent Hamlets, who I saw overcome Grays Athletic Reserves in the Peter Butcher Trophy last weekend. AJ Ashinike’s side can play decent football and three wins in their last six league matches makes up half of their league wins all season. ‘Side haven’t enjoyed good home form and Hamlets’ superior goal-power means I’m electing to go for an away win in a hard-fought affair.

Scott’s Prediction: 1 – 2

Woodford Town  v  Ilford  | The Harlow Arena

Pete: The hosts recent unbeaten run has been ended with back-to-back defeats in the league so they will want to put that right against the league’s most out-of-form side in the shape of Ilford who have lost five straight in the division, although they did beat Clapton in the Peter Butcher Memorial Trophy last time out to at least give them some festive cheer.  Despite this though and the hosts recent defeats, I think the home side will prevail in this one.

Pete’s Prediction: 3 – 1

Scott: The other match set for Friday night is this intriguing battle between two sides who having ‘blips’ at present. Woodford have been impressive thsus far this term, sitting in 5th spot though have lost their last two league matches – at Hullbridge and St Margaretsbury respectively. What is most interesting about Dee Safer’s side is that they are the league’s third-highest scorers with 54 goals. Ilford’s ‘blip’ is somewhat more severe though with five straight league losses as they look to start 2019 on a strong footing, though they did secure passage in the Peter Butcher Trophy with a win over Clapton. Last month, the Foxes were leaky in defence and it’s no easy talk to ‘shut up shop’ against the likes of the Towners. Even though Ilf’s form is better away from home, I have to plump for a home triumph here.

Scott’s Prediction: 3 – 1

Saturday 5th January

Clapton  v  Leyton Athletic | Old Spotted Dog

Pete: The Tons come into this one having lost at Ilford in the Peter Butcher Memorial Trophy last time out, although they did win there in the league prior to Christmas, and two wins from their last three in the ESL suggests an upturn in form.  They welcome second-bottom Leyton Athletic to The Old Spotted Dog with the visitors having lost three of their last four matches, and with only thirteen goals scored between both these sides in their last six, goals maybe hard to come by here.  Going for a score draw.

Pete’s Prediction: 1 – 1


Scott: Leyton make the trip to Forest Gate to take on a Tons side still looking for consistency. The hosts won last their last league match at Ilford though the Foxes did turn them over in the Peter Butcher Trophy last weekend. Leyton are winless in their last eight matches in league and cup though have had a mini-break from action recently which boss Eli Benoit will hope can assist them to a good start to the new year. Given that the Tons have found their goal-scoring touch more recently, I have to head for a home win in what could be a goal-laden match.

Scott’s Prediction: 3 – 1

Enfield  v  Hoddesdon | The Harlow Arena

Pete: Both sides come into this one off the back of victories, the home side ending a run of three straight defeats in the process whilst Hoddy have won their last two now.  Both teams do struggle for goals though, with only 17 between them in six games, but the visitors are much better in defence though having conceded half of what Enfield have done in last six.  Despite this though I feel this may end a draw.

Pete’s Prediction: 2 – 2

Scott: Enfield welcome Hoddesdon to the Harlow Arena. The E’s won their last league match at St Margaretsbury to end a mini-losing run though Hoddy’s form has also picked up with league wins at Leyton and at home to Sawbridgeworth recently before a fine performance sent Hullbridge packing out of the Errington Cup last weekend in their switched tie at Lowfield. Hoddesdon’s form away from home has been impressive with only two losses thus far and that could be a difference-maker here. Away win.

Scott’s Prediction: 2 – 3

Hullbridge Sports  v  Sawbridgeworth Town  | Lower Road

Pete: Sports are the best team over the last six games in form having won their last five in a row in the league, although they were thrashed 5-1 at Hoddesdon Town in the Errington Challenge Cup just before the new year, so they will want to get that out of their system.  They welcome a Sawbridgeworth side to Lower Road who have won two of their last three outings so will be a tough one to crack for sure, but I feel the hosts will bounce back from that Lowfield disappointment to start 2019 off on the right foot.

Pete’s Prediction: 2 – 1

Scott: Hullbridge welcome Sawbridgeworth to Lower Road. Darren Manning’s side had a rare ‘off-day’ in their loss at Hoddesdon in the Errington Cup last weekend though league-wise they have won their last five on-the-spin. The Bridge boys have had issues with postponements as well recently so that could impede their desire to find their rhythm to stay among the pace-setters.

Sawbo’s form has improved a touch recently with two losses in their last seven outings. Even so, John Watters’ tenth-placed side do need to improve their away form and this could give Hullbridge a little more impetus as they look to use their matches in hand to close the gap on leaders Stansted, which sits at four points presently.

Scott’s Prediction: 2 – 1

Redbridge   v   Takeley  | Oakside

Pete: The Motormen have lost their last three in the league and were beaten heavily at Walthamstow last time out in the Errington Challenge Cup, so their form isn’t brilliant.  They do now welcome new boss Micky Wetherall to the club and this will be his first match in charge along with his new signings, most of whom have come in from his old club May & Baker.  How they adapt to new life in a division one step higher remains to be seen, but they couldn’t have picked a tougher side in Takeley to test that out, the visitors are one of the in-form sides in the division right now and will prove a very tough test for Wetherall and co.  Expecting an away win here.

Pete’s Prediction: 0 – 2


Scott: Change is underway at Redbridge with new boss Micky Wetherall taking sole charge for the first time as they welcome Takeley to Oakside. The Motormen’s form continues to stutter as they’ve lost their last four in all competitions. A heavy loss at Walthamstow in midweek once again shows the job Wetherall has got to do, though he’s wasted no time in bringing in players from former club May & Baker to arrest his new side’s worrying league position. I saw them last month in their loss to Sporting Bengal and to be fair, there is courage and spirit in the team though their leaky defence has to be dealt with.

Takeley’s long unbeaten stretch ended at Stansted last time out though they are stronger away from home this season and I would suspect they will have enough to claim the points here.

Scott’s Prediction: 1 – 2

Southend Manor  v  St Margaretsbury  | Southchurch Park

Pete: With three league wins in their last four, Manor look in good shape going into the new year.  But they remain in trouble down at the bottom and lost 5-1 to Barkingside’s Reserve side last time out in the Peter Butcher Memorial Trophy in what was an alarming result for the Southchurch Park side.  St Margaretsbury have also won three of their last four but are in much better shape in the standings compared to their opponents, so you would say the visitors come into this in better frame of mind.  Reckon Dash and Co will get the points here.

Pete’s Prediction: 1 – 3

Scott: Manor welcome St Margs to Southchurch Park. Adam Peek’s side has picked up league-wise with three wins in the their last four matches, the last of those being a home win over Clapton. The ‘fly in the ointment’ though was a bad loss at Barkingside Reserves in the Peter Butcher Trophy last weekend. St Margs have only lost twice in their last eight games and crowned their recent run off with a good home win over Woodford last time out. Neither side has many draws to their name this term and I’ll plump for a narrow away win.

Scott’s Prediction: 1 – 2

Sporting Bengal Utd  v  West Essex      | Mile End Stadium

Pete: The hosts’ form has dropped off recently after an incredible unbeaten run that lasted for two months, but the possible return of Knight and Carvell will certainly help their cause, and they come up against a West Essex outfit who come into this off the back of two straight defeats, just like the hosts.  I do feel this one may end all-square though.

Pete’s Prediction: 2 – 2

Scott: This fascinating tie sees West Essex travel to Mile End for the first of two matches in three days to face Sporting Bengal, who are in the middle of a blip with one win in their last five outings in the league. Imrul Gazi’s side did recover to win well at Harlow Town Reserves in the Peter Butcher Trophy last weekend. West have won two of their last five league matches though they are one of the teams that have been much stronger away from home. They did test Walthamstow last time out before succumbing to a narrow loss. This one could be tight as well though Bengal need to find their goal-touch on a more consistent basis. If they do that, they should get the win here.

Scott’s Prediction: 2 – 1

 Stanway Rovers  v  Stansted     | Hawthorns

Pete: Terry Spillane welcome an ex-side to his Hawthorns ground as Stansted, the side he won the ESL with several years ago, take on his current squad Stanway Rovers.  The hosts’ form has been rather mixed of late, although they did taste victory in their last league outing, so will draw some confidence from that.  But Stansted are unbeaten in five having won three of those and currently lead the division, so this proves a tough one for the home side.  Stansted win for me.

Pete’s Prediction: 2 – 4

Scott: Stansted look to keep their revival going at the Hawthorns. Stanway’s recent record on four losses in their last six isn’t super though Terry Spillane’s side are a different beast at home with six wins in their ten matches at the Hawthorns thus far. The Airportmen have beaten Saffron Walden and Takeley of late so will pose potent opposition here. There could be goals in this one too and I reckon Paul Pittuck & Marc Benterman’s side will find it a real battle here.

Scott’s Prediction: 1 – 2


Walthamstow  v  Saffron Walden Town      | Wadham Lodge Stadium

Pete: Big game at Kitchener Road as Walthamstow take on Saffron Walden, both have won two of their last three, and the hosts also had a thumping home win over Redbridge in midweek too. ‘Stow are unbeaten in their last four league games though, but Walden will prove a tough assignment.  This is a hard one to call for me, but I have a feeling Walden might sneak this one.

Pete’s Prediction: 1 – 2

Scott: It’s a case of ‘last but hardly least’ with this fascinating match at Wadham Lodge which sees ‘Stow face another goal-hungry side in Saffron Walden. The hosts are unbeaten in five in league and cup, following a big win over Redbridge in midweek in their Errington Cup tie. The Bloods lost a cracker last time out at home to Stansted though are still unbeaten away from Catons Lane. That record will come under threat here in a match ‘Stow perhaps need to win slightly more to push themselves further into the promotion reckoning. Walden are a tough side to beat as well, with only three losses in 21 league matches. Could be goals in this one too as both sides have similar defensive records. Going to go for a entertaining draw.

Scott’s Prediction: 2 – 2

You can follow both writers on Twitter, which includes match-day tweets and links to articles. Follow Peter – @ped1980 and Scott – @ScottMHC14


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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