by Nick Sullivan
Blackheath are back on home turf this weekend for their first fixture at Well Hall for 4 weeks, just in time for the spring sun to burn away the lingering chill of winter. This week, we welcome Cambridge (9th) for the eighteenth league fixture between the two sides.
Whilst not mathematically safe from relegation, two decent home wins in their last two outings against have left Cambridge realistically secure in their National One tenure.
National One as at Friday 6 April 2018
|2||Darlington Mowden Park||26||19||1||6||711||562||149||17||2||0||97|
|3||Ampthill and District||26||16||4||6||682||492||190||15||4||0||91|
Past Meetings and Recent Results
This will be the 18th fixture between the two sides at Level Three. Blackheath hold the upper hand with 9 wins, 7 losses a solitary draw. That said, advantage tends to fall to the home side, with 7 of the Southeast London side’s wins coming at home. Last year’s fixture at Well Hall saw Blackheath triumph 34 – 24 and the reverse fixture this season resulted in a16 – 27 away win.
Looking at their more recent form, in some ways, Cambridge are in the reverse position to Bishop’s Stortford last week. That was Stortford’s first home game for some time, and this is Cambridge’s first away fixture since 10 March. Cambs have won 2 of their last 3, the one loss being a 15 (2) – 25 (3) reversal at the hands of Darlington Mowden Park on 17 March. The two wins comprised a high-scoring 50 (8) – 26 (4) victory over Old Albanian, then a 29 (4) – 19 (3) home win over Hull Ionians last weekend.
Match Day Details
Kick off at Well Hall is at 3 pm. Nestled in the far flung foothills of the Alps, a scant few miles from Lake Garda, is Brescia, home town of this weekend’s man in the middle, Andrea Piardi. Andrea has temporarily swapped his Alpine home for the rolling plains of South London and joins us courtesy of the Italian Federation. Ably assisted around the edges by the not-so-unusual-sights of David Parsons and Tim Bailey, we hope Andrea enjoys his time here.
Mother Nature’s gradually improving mood looks set to continue into the weekend. Any overnight showers should soon peter out leaving a dry and bright day. I’m not saying break out the T-shirts and sandals, but…temperatures should creep up to the dizzy heights of 15/16 degrees accompanied by a gentle 13mph southerly breeze.
If you cannot make Well Hall this weekend, don’t forget the always excellent Graham Cox on BBC Radio Kent (96.7 FM, 104.2 FM, 774 AM, DAB & On-line) who provides live score updates and reports, post-match interviews, plus a full round-up National League results for all Kent clubs after 5 pm.
Around the Grounds
If you weren’t sure whether or not the clocks had gone forward, this week’s fixture list dispels any lingering doubt. Every game is listed for a 3pm kick off, no doubt with anticipation of a glorious sunny afternoon across the country.
First up, Coventry (1st), already uncatchable barring any unforeseen points’ deductions, will look to put even more distance between themselves and 2nd placed DMP as they host Rosslyn Park (12th) at the Butts Park Arena. Park remained threatened by the relegation battle and are far more in need of the points than their hosts, but it’s difficult to see the Champions elect freewheeling to gift anything to the Southwest London side.
Incidentally, recent results in the Championship mean that – again, barring any unforeseen circumstances – Rotherham will pass Cov in the opposite direction during the closed season and join National One in the new semester. It’s a long time since a Blackheath side has played at Clifton Lane, so a new ground to visit for many supporters next season.
Anyway, next up and current best of the rest (or First Loser, if you’re that way inclined) are Darlington Mowden Park (2nd) who head south to the Dillingham Park home of Ampthill (3rd). Both sides have lost something of their sheen in the last few weeks although both are still very good teams and this has the potential to be a corker. Whatever the result, neither side’s league position will change this week, but there are some important bragging rights at stake. Not far behind these two, Plymouth Albion (4th) have an early start for a 680 mile round trip to Hull Ionians (13th). Following a postponement of an already postponed fixture last weekend, Albion’s season looks set to drift on into the middle of May. To make matters worse for this weekend’s opponents, that fixture is against relegation embattled Loughborough Students. Inevitably, there are now concerns as to the strength of the side each respective team will be able to put out and whether that creates some sort of advantage for a Students’ side desperate for points. Hull, though, cannot afford to worry about that and can only play what is in front of them. There must be a fair chance that they can turn the form book on its head and claw themselves away from the drop zone.
Speaking of Loughborough Students (14th), they travel to leafy North Surrey this time out to face Esher (11th). Two sides with not dissimilar records and the result could well be dictated by which Loughborough side turns up. The other side lingering around the relegation trap door, Old Albanian (15th), host newcomers Caldy (10th). The Wirral side are probably – although not mathematically – safe from the drop and no doubt OAs are targeting the win with home advantage.
Fylde (16th), already doomed, will probably come off second best as they visit Bishops Stortford (8th) and, finally, Mosley (7th) welcome Old Elthamians (6th) to Billesley Common. Despite being on the road, the Southeast London outfit are probably marginal favourites in what could be a close fought match.
Good luck Blackheath and Come On Youuuu Cluuuuuub!