Cold snap obliterates non-league calendar

By Connor Steel

NON-LEAGUE football supporters have been left disappointed this weekend following match postponements across the country due to a winter cold snap; with Portchester and Fareham’s scheduled encounters now set to be played in early 2023 as a consequence of freezing temperatures seen over recent nights in Hampshire.

Player welfare was considered as playing on a frozen pitch surface can lead to serious injuries, with a higher risk of ankle, back and knee issues due to slippery surfaces and potential heavy impacts. Combined with the risk of icy surfaces in stadium car parks and fan safety, most teams have decided to postpone their games.

The first casualty was announced around 8am as Portchester’s long away trip to Cowes Sport was called off, which was soon followed by a flurry of cancellations from across the Wessex League. And just after 11:30am it was confirmed that Fareham’s journey to Bournemouth Poppies was also off due to icy weather conditions.

Fleetlands’ home game against Andover New Street (2pm) and Horndean’s intriguing postcode derby versus Baffins Milton Rovers both fell victim to the cold snap; the sole survivor being Stoneham’ match with Hythe & Dibden. In League One, Portsmouth’s journey to Accrington Stanley was also postponed earlier this morning.

No new dates have been announced for these rearranged fixtures with a majority of non-league leagues due to begin a short festive break starting next weekend. Fareham’s last action before Christmas will see the side host Brockenhurst, whilst Portchester will visit Farnborough on December 21 in a Hampshire Senior Cup tie.

However Gosport Borough’s league game versus Merthyr Town was rendered playable after its earlier 11am pitch inspection in South Wales (kick-off 3pm), with Havant & Waterlooville’s encounter against Slough Town is unchanged at present. This National League South match is planned to kick off at 2pm from Arbour Park.

Clubs were given permission from their various leagues to deviate from the traditional 3pm kick-off times due to the World Cup action tonight, which will see England play France in the quarter finals. This was agreed in a bid to boost crowd attendances across all non-league levels, with live ITV coverage due to start from 6pm.

PICTURED BY ALAMY (S2GJF7): Frozen pitch surfaces can potentially lead to serious injuries for players.