Promotion chances – From Bracknell Town to Ascot United and Reading City

Bracknell Town striker Ben Harris. Photo: Neil Graham.
Ben Harris. Photo: Neil Graham.

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There’s plenty at stake for Berkshire clubs as the 2022/23 non-league football season reaches the business end with teams vying for promotion across the board.

Rob Davies has already been through the permutations for promotion and relegation and how it’ll happen this year, so I thought I’d look at those sides in the mix for making the step up to the next level. And if you’d like more on how the English Football Pyramid works, that’s here.

Bracknell Town – Southern League Premier Division South

The Robins are certainly odds on for a play-off birth and a chance at Vanarama National League South football next season.

Jamie McClurg and Carl Withers have kept the Bracknell juggernaut rolling and haven’t let form or desire for more silverware die off after the club’s epic FA Cup run to a First Round home tie with Ipswich Town.

Bracknell are well placed for a top-five finish in the Southern League Premier Division South and don’t have any issue scoring goals with the joint most goals scored so far this season – additionally, they look best placed to take advantage should either leaders Weston-super-Mare or second-placed Truro City falter in the run-in – games in hand mean they still have a shot at the title.

Keep up with the Robins upcoming fixtures here.

Binfield – Isthmian League South Central Division One

The Moles form has fluctuated of late but a 3-0 win over Sutton Common Rovers ended a run of four defeats at the start of March.

James Beauchamp. Photo: Andrew Batt.
James Beauchamp. Photo: Andrew Batt.

None of that really matters with eight games left, Binfield are just two points off an Isthmian League South Central Division One play-off place – they’ll have to do it the hard way though with games against fellow promotion hopefuls Walton & Hersham, Northwood and Marlow to come.

Keep up with the Moles upcoming fixtures here.

Ascot United – Combined Counties League Premier Division South

The Yellas have more than 10 games to play in the Combined Counties League Premier Division North this season and are FA Vase semi-finalists following Saturday’s win in Manchester.

Action from Ascot United vs Reading City. Photo: Rob Mack.
Action from Ascot United vs Reading City. Photo: Rob Mack.

You’d be hard-pressed to argue that they won’t eventually be crowned champions but they have tests to come predominantly against scrapping for their Step 5 futures predominantly in the bottom half of the table.

The points gap between them and Reading City who have a game in hand is not that wide, but the Cityzens realistically are their only challengers – the title is in the Yellas hands.

Keep up with the Yellas upcoming fixtures here.

Reading City – Combined Counties League Premier Division South

Like Ascot, you’d be hard-pressed to argue that Reading won’t be playing that inter-league Step 4 vs Step 5 play-off at the end of the season.

Reading City’s Tyler D’Cruz. Photo: Hazel Worthy.
Reading City’s Tyler D’Cruz. Photo: Hazel Worthy.

Simon Johnson’s side have lost two games all season – one of those to Ascot – and have been relentless in getting to grips with a division that saw them beaten 14 times last season.

You’d be foolish to rule out Flackwell Heath and Egham Town from the mix but the Cityzens are in the driving seat and I’d not expect that to change.

Keep up with the Cityzens upcoming fixtures here.

Combined Counties League Division One – Berks County, Langley and Sandhurst Town

Until recently the title was looking a straight shootout between Sandhurst and Langley particularly after the Slough side beat the Fizzers 4-3.

However, a packed February has seen Langley beaten three times and held to a draw in seven games giving FC Deportivo Galicia the initiative at the top, albeit having played two more games.

Berks County's Ellis Day. Photo: Andrew Batt.
Berks County’s Ellis Day. Photo: Andrew Batt.

Where it gets complicated is Sandhurst. The Fizzers have a massive 16 games left to play. Winning their seven in hand over Galicia would put them well ahead at the top but at the time of writing they’ve got an awful lot of work to do and games to fit in including tough ties against Galicia, the return fixture against Langley and a final day visit of Rayners Lane.

Sneaking in there in play-off contention are Berks County with games in hand on all four sides above them – Rayners Lane, London Samurai Rovers, Langley and Galicia.

The Swords home record at Hill Farm Lane is probably the best in the division and seven of their last 11 games are.. at home.

Verdict: The run-in in the CCL Division One could well be the most exciting of all the Steps for those with an interest in Berkshire football.

Keep up with Langley’s upcoming fixtures here, Sandhurst’s here and Berks County’s here.

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