Written by Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14] – Non-League Writer
Hello everyone and welcome to a preview of the opening weekend of the resumption of the 2020-21 Essex Olympian League Premier Division season, looking at the first fixture weekend taking place on the 3rd April, plus a look at who is in the race for the Premier Division title this term, which of course has recently been dominated by the inspired Buckhurst Hill.
As a spectator and writer on Non-League Football, Saturdays in the last four months have been something to adapt to, just another caveat of a thoroughly troubling year.
Alright, we’ll start with a snapshot of the current Premier Division table, courtesy of the re-modelled FA Full-time site. Then we’ll move on to who is in the running for the title & the first three fixtures those runners have to restart their campaign.
So who is in the running for the Premier Division title?
This is an intriguing question, particularly given the resurgence of a Marcus Bowers-led Basildon Town this season. They sit level on points with leaders Buckhurst Hill who once again have shown they are the yardstick to overcome. Then you also have fellow Essex sides in Catholic Utd and Leigh Ramblers who are had positive ‘first halves’ of the campaign before the suspension of the campaign in December.
Given how they have played in the last season or so, you cannot rule out Sungate who do have games in hand on their opposition which may be played before the end of May, when the season will be brought to an end. It would be remiss not to mention the form of Matt Singh’s Hutton side as well and I doubt many would have put them in the top four in August 2020 but that is every compliment to his playing squad & management team.
Leaders Buckhurst Hill have some tough matches to resume their campaign as they begin with a trip to Springfield this weekend, which is followed by a home tussle with Hutton a week later, and then the battle that most have probably looked forward to for a while – a tough visit of rivals Basildon Town on April 17th.
Second-placed Basildon themselves have a decent run of games, beginning with a home fixture with bottom four side Shenfield AFC on April 3rd, with a trip to Sungate a week later and then the aforementioned possible title ‘six-pointer’ with Buckhurst Hill.
‘Best of the rest’ Catholic Utd in third have two local derbies to resume their tilt at the title, welcoming Harold Wood Athletic to the Len Forge this weekend, followed by a intriguing battle with Rayleigh Town at London Road next time out, and then on April 17th, they also face the trip to East London to face Sungate.
Fourth-placed Hutton cannot be dismissed yet from staging a surprise title challenge, which will be endorsed if they get a result from their opening match with strugglers Old Southendian at Polo Fields. Trips to Buckhurst Hill and Leigh Ramblers follow on consecutive weekends, which will be a test of the side’s mettle.
Leigh Ramblers reside in fifth place at present and some might consider them an outside bet despite having the second-best defence in the division. They begin at home to Canning Town, before a tricky visit to East London to face Harold Wood Athletic and then they welcome Hutton to Belfairs.
Finally, Sungate may be in sixth place but they do have games in hand and the best defensive record, having only conceded four goals in six matches thus far. They face tricky visits to Bishop’s Stortford Swifts and Catholic Utd, with a home match with Basildon Town in the middle of those two away trips on April 10th.
Yes, it may be a tired cliché but I believe the next three weeks will give us an interesting insight into how the last five weeks of the season will shape up.
The following fixtures this weekend are subject to Covid protocols (ie. they could be postponed at short notice) & a reminder that spectators are still barred until at least April 12th.
Saturday 3rd April (2.30pm KOs unless stated)
EOFL Premier Division
Basildon Town v Shenfield AFC | Basildon Sports Club
Bishop’s Stortford Swifts v Sungate | Silver Leys
Catholic Utd v Harold Wood Athletic | Len Forge Centre [3G]
Hutton v Old Southendian | Polo Fields
Kelvedon Hatch v Rayleigh Town | New Hall
Leigh Ramblers v Canning Town | Belfairs Park
Springfield v Buckhurst Hill | Springfield Hall Park
That’s all for this article, thank you for reading & I hope to be able to bring back my round-ups of Olympian League action early next week. I wish each team well.