By Connor Steel
LOCAL CLUBS have received information about their opening competitive fixtures for next season, with the Wessex League drawing the first two rounds of their 2022-23 league cup competition; Fareham Town, AFC Portchester and Fleetlands FC learning potential opponents as they hope to win the trophy currently held by Shaftesbury following April’s cup final at the On-Site Group Stadium.
The competition is run annually by the Wessex League featuring all teams from both the Premier and Division One tables; with sixteen teams drawn out for the first round including Fareham. Fresh from finishing runners-up in last year’s final the Creeksiders will travel west to Dorset on August 30, where they will play fellow Wessex Premier out Portland United in a midweek encounter on the coast.
Other 1st round ties will see Petersfield Town play Newport (IOW), Folland Sports visiting Downton, Verwood Town host Fawley AFC, and newly promoted Hamworthy Recreation travel to Ringwood Town; all matches being played in the week of August 29 following the Bank Holiday weekend as the first cup action of the new season due to start four weeks earlier according to league organisers / clubs.
Should Fareham overcome Portland in the first round, they face another long trip to face East Cowes Victoria on a date yet to be confirmed; the winners having to travel to the Isle of Wight for the tie which is likely to be held in midweek under competition scheduling rules. This will be particularly crucial in the early stages of the season with FA Cup, FA Vase and league games taking priority at the weekends.
In contrast AFC Portchester and Fleetlands FC have both received a bye through to the second round, with the Royals facing either Moneyfields or New Milton Town as the two clash in the first set of fixtures. Dave Carter’s men will be hoping to go one further than their semi-final run last season, where they lost one-nil to Creekside rivals Fareham at Cams Alders in a match attended by hundreds of fans in March.
Fleetlands will participate in the competition for the first time ever after being promoted from the Hampshire Premier League earlier this spring and they have been drawn a home tie against Southampton-based Blackfield & Langley at Lederle Lane in the second round. Again there is no scheduled date for this tie but is expected to take place in the final weeks of September, similarly to the 2021-22 season.
Readers can find out more information about the Wessex League and cup competitions, including fixtures due to be released in early July, by visiting the link: http://www.wessexleague.co.uk/.
PICTURED BY DANIEL HASWELL: Shaftesbury celebrate winning 2021-22 league cup following final win.