All to play for: Maidenhead United home and dry? Reading City to make a dash for play-offs?

Charlee Adams celebrates. Photo: Darren Woolley.
Charlee Adams celebrates. Photo: Darren Woolley.

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In this strangest of weather-affected seasons, as meteorological records tumble, Football in Berkshire takes a look at how things stand from the Vanarama National League to the Combined Counties League.

Vanarama National League and National League South

One more win equals one more year. That’s the maths Maidenhead United fans are doing before looking forward to glamorous away days at Colchester United and Forest Green Rovers.

The Magpies are in an absolutely bat **** division where only a week ago they looked dead certs for the drop. Now two wins and a draw means Alan Devonshire’s side are almost there leaving sides with much more resource in their wake.

Slough Town's Scott Davies. Photo: George Beck.
Slough Town’s Scott Davies. Photo: George Beck.

Slough Town are probably not going to make the play-offs, but they could still finish very very close. Scott Davies has had a wonderful first full year in charge bringing delight and crowds to Arbour Park. Following on from an era of success like the one experienced under Jon Underwood and Neil Baker is often – in football management anyway, a hopeless task. In at the deep end Davies’ side are still swimming – can they make one last splash?

Southern League Premier Division South

Bracknell Town

The tide has turned. The wind is in their sails and the Robins have banished the away day blues – a bit. Three wins in their last six on the road when previously they couldn’t buy a point let alone three.

That defeat to Hungerford Town was unhelpful but a 3-1 win at Basingstoke Town has got everyone back on side.

Four games to go, maybe just, just maybe that last play-off spot is theirs?

Hungerford Town

Don’t rule the Crusaders out either, but it looks unlikely now after back-to-back defeats to Merthyr Town and Winchester City. That 3-1 Easter win over Bracknell probably feels like a lifetime ago now. Work to do, but we’d never rule a Danny Robinson side out.

Isthmian League South Central Division One

Ascot United and Thatcham Town

The play-offs at Step 4 are a closed shop now for Berkshire sides but Ascot United can be proud of a first season at the level. They’re safe and you suspect now they’ve got the lie of the land and a summer ahead, they’ll push on wisely.

Thatcham Town are just much improved. Perhaps not a play-off push the form at the end of last season suggested but Yashwa Romeo’s side are in a much better place than last season’s 13th place finish.

Binfield

The story at Step 4 for the Royal County is Binfield. Will they? Won’t they. A big win over relegation rivals Chipstead said they would, but then a defeat to fellow strugglers Ashford Town (Middlesex) and a Chipstead win means the Chips have turned the screw a little tighter.

The Moles have goals in them though which is a huge tick in the box, but Ross Weatherstone’s side need a minimum four wins and that’s presuming Chipstead don’t pick up any more points.

Combined Counties League

Premier Division North

The Combined Counties League Premier Division North is a lottery this season. But at least Reading City, Holyport, Burnham and Virginia Water are in it to win it..

Or at least snatch a spot in the play-offs.

A points deduction for Rayners Lane means the title is now Flackwell Heath’s to lose, but there are arguably still two spots available in the play-offs which cover finishes from second to fifth.

Burnham

Pole position, fourth place with games in hand. The Blues should be home and hosed with a shot at a return to Step 4 for the first time since 2016.

Holyport and Virginia Water

Milton United are the vulnerable side in fifth place. Holyport have launched a late and quiet run for the last spot and are a point behind but level on games. It might be a step too far based on other sides games in hand, but Sam Lock’s side have come a long long way this season.

Virginia Water have two games in hand and are three points short – a points deduction and recently abandoned tie at Ardley United – a game they were comfortably winning is frustrating. Fifth is their’s if they can get a run together.

Reading City

Reading City manager Simon Johnson. Photo: Neil Graham.
Reading City manager Simon Johnson. Photo: Neil Graham.

Always the enigma, Reading City have the games in hand, but do they have the time? They certainly have the manager and the players. Five games to make up on Milton and only six points off fifth. North Greenford United, two points better off and with one game more to play could be the play-off king makers in all this.

And relegation?

Wallingford & Crowmarsh

Wally may have looked in danger around Christmas but they’ve quietly been picking up points. Although they’ve played more games than the teams around them, with only one team going down they look like they’ve done enough.

Wokingham & Emmbrook

The Sumas have the games in hand to get off the bottom. Chalfont St Peter have played 32 and have 26 points, Wokingham have played 28 and have 21. They also have a new manager in Darren Purbrick. Matt Cronan’s last game in charge – the defeat to Hilltop – was a blow, but the Sumas now just have to a) play games and b) find some points. One in their last six games shows the size of the challenge.

But they have the games!

Next: Take a look at how things stand at Step 6 in the Combined Counties League and Wessex League

Combined Counties League Premier Division South (by Dan Walkley)

Tadley-Calleva

The fortunes of the Barlows Park side are in their hands thanks to a minimum of three games in hand on their play-off rivals, but with seven games in less than three weeks, Tadley will have to hope for a run of no injuries or suspensions as a full squad will be needed to get through the backlog.

Games at home to both Fleet and AFC Croydon Athletic could be telling come the end of the month.

Sandhurst Town

The Fizzers first season in the Combined Counties League Premier Division South has been a success on the whole and they find themselves mid-table after some very solid performances. Sandhurst can finish as high as tenth but with only two games to go in their season, we will see them leapfrogged by at least Tooting & Mitcham United in the coming weeks.

The future is bright at step 5 for the team at the SB Stadium.

Football in Berkshire has a Breaking News WhatsApp Channel where we’ll send you updates on all the latest football news from the Royal County. You can join Breaking Berkshire Football News by clicking here

Upcoming fixtures

Saturday 18th May 2024

Sandhurst Town Boys & Girls Royals14:00KS Gryf
Southcote Colts14:00Virginia Water Reserves

Sunday 19th May 2024

Ascot United Reserves14:00Eversley & California
Show all fixtures

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