After a long and torturous journey, we reach the final part of the preview of our return to the Isthmian League.
Tell me it’s definitely too late to be switched the Southern. Please.
2017/18 11th 64pts/46 games
Another former Conference South side now living the dream in the Bostik League after a three stint in the big time. We only got to meet the Angels in Conference South on two occasions – winning 2-1 at home thanks to goals from Reece Prestedge and Kyle Vassell before Cliff Akurang helped us return from Kent with a point – due to our time in the grim north. Angels went down that season, and narrowly avoided a second straight relegation the following year. A pair of top six finishes followed before they slipped down to 11th last season, and they had little joy in either the Cup or Trophy as they lost at the first stage against Faversham Town and Heybridge Swifts respectively. The only other meetings between the teams came in November 2011 when Tonbridge knocked us out of the Trophy with a 2-1 win after the sides had drawn 1-1 at Woodside Park.
2017/18 21st National League South 34pts/42 games
After a year without sampling the delights of the Enclosed Ground, Blues will return to Brighton to face the Hawks. Having avoided relegation at the expense of Blues in 2016/17, beating Blues 3-0 at the Prokit and 1-0 at home, the Hawks couldn’t repeat the trick last season. They didn’t have much more success in the Cup and Trophy, losing against Oxford City in the former and St Albans City after a win against Chippenham Town in the latter. Crowds also dropped to an average of 270 as they slipped out of the second tier.
2017/18 9th 69pts/46 games
Now firmly established as an Isthmian Premier side, Wingate will have the honour of hosting the Blue Brazil in a league game for the first time this season. While successive top ten finishes have helped the “Blues”, crowds at The Maurice Rebak Stadium remain disappointing with a league-low average of 141 together with the lowest gate of the season, 74. With former Blues’ legend Claudiu Vilcu in their side, Hendon were beaten in the FA Cup before Hemel Hemsptead knocked Wingate out of the competition, while in the FA Trophy wins against Biggleswade Town, Corinthian-Casuals and Met Police saw them reach the first round proper before losing 1-0 at Wealdstone. We did host Wingate a decade ago, winning 3-2 in the FA Cup second qualifying round
2017/18 16th 57pts/46 games
It’s been 17 years since we visited Woodside Road, and much of that period has seen the Rebels playing at the fourth tier of non-league football. Promotion through the Isthmian South play-offs in 2016 saw Worthing return to the Premier Division but despite averaging around 600, their two years in the third tier have been decidedly underwhelming with lower mid-table finishes, and there was no join in the FA competitions last season with early exits at Dorking Wanderers and Thame United in the Cup and Trophy respectively. The last meetings saw Blues win 4-1 at Woodside Road before drawing 1-1 at Woodside Park on our way to promotion from Isthmian Division One. Whether these games class at the Woodside derby is unclear.