With grassroots football returning since Monday, 29th March, the Essex & Suffolk Border League have decided to host a knockout tournament for teams from across all divisions ahead of the new season. While several sides have opted not to take part, the majority of teams are keen and ready to take to the grass to try and win some silverware.
Some sides have already made it through whether through a BYE or having won a previous game before the UK was forced into a lockdown; Flitch United, Mersea Island, West Bergholt, Lawford Lads, Wormingford Wanderers and Stillwaters await their opponents for the second round as the first round (and some second round ties) are almost upon us.
Alresford Colne Rangers vs Silver End United – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
Premier Division side Alresford Colne Rangers host Silver End United in the First Round of the Knockout Cup. Colne Rangers sat just below mid-table when the season was halted, finding themselves 11th after 12-games with a record of won 4, drew 2 and lost 6. They were still in the hunt for a top-half finish finding themselves 5-points behind 5th-place with 2-games in-hand, giving them a good opportunity to rise up the table if the season had continued. They face up to a side in the division below in Silver End United. The visitors found themselves battling for the Division One title alongside Belle Vue, finding themselves level on points but having played a game more. After 10-games, Silver End has won 8 and lost 2. Although they were level on points at the top, it would have been a tough fight towards the seasons end as 6-points separated the top-6. Although Alresford would be favourites based on their position in the divisions, United will hope to find their title-chasing form and hope they can cause an upset to progress.
Bradfield Rovers vs Dedham Old Boys – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
Bradfield Rovers of Division Four face a tough game as they host Premier Division side Dedham Old Boys. Rovers found themselves towards the bottom end of the table after 12-games, having won 2, drew 2 and lost 8. Teams around them had played less games so had the season continued, Rovers could have found themselves under immense pressure from below and seeing themselves falling away from the sides above. The visitors found themselves 10th in the top division after 10-games, with a record of won 4, drew 2 and lost 4. Had the season continued, Old Boys could have found themselves rising up the table. They found themselves 5-points behind Little Oakley Reserves with 4-games in-hand and 10-points behind Colne Athletic with 3-games in-hand. Dedham Old Boys will be overwhelming favourites for this tie based on divisions and the hosts would require a mammoth effort in order to progress in the Cup.
Cressing United vs Little Oakley Reserves – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
Cressing United will also face higher opposition as they host Little Oakley Reserves. Cressing only played 8-games last season seeing them 10th, with a record of won 3, drew 1 and lost 4. They did have a chance to fight for a top-half finish, finding themselves 10-points behind 5th-place with 3-games in-hand. Little Oakley Reserves found themselves 5th in the Premier Division after 14-games. Their record of won 5. drew 4 and lost 5 puts them 9-points off the league leaders but having played the most games in the division, gives the teams round them the chance to close the gap or even pull ahead meaning the Reserves could have fallen down the table. It will be a tough game for both sides and with Little Oakley Reserves being favourites, they will hope they can progress without any drama although Cressing United will hope to cause an upset.
Earls Colne vs Coggeshall United Reserves – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
Another Premier Division against Division One will see Earls Colne host Coggeshall United Reserves. Earls Colne had hoped for a better season but found themselves closer to the bottom than the top when the season was halted. After 9-games, they had only managed one win while drawing 6 and losing 2. Colne certainly weren’t out of any hopes of rising up the table, with plenty of games in-hand on sides above and below. Most notably, they found themselves 10-points behind 5th-place with 5-games in-hand, giving them a good chance for a much higher finish had the season continued. Coggeshall United Reserves were 7th in the division below having played 10-games, with a record of won 5, drew 2 and lost 3. Coggeshall United certainly didn’t rule themselves out of a late title charge, only being 7-points behind the top-two with a strong chance of putting results together. Coggeshall United will hope they can progress against the favourites for this tie in Earls Colne but both sides have a strong chance to do so.
Rowhedge vs Tiptree Heath – Satruday 10th April, 2.30pm
9th-place Rowhedge will host Tiptree Heath in the First Round of the Invitational Cup. Rowhedge found themselves slightly too far behind Harwich & Parkeston Reserves to mount a late title challenge but would have hoped to carry on the season to finish as high as possible. After 7-games, they had won 3, drew 3 and lost 1, giving them a good chance to compete for a top-3 place. Tiptree Heath sat 6th in the Premier Division when the season was curtailed. After 10-games, they had won 6 and lost 4, putting them 6-points behind 2nd-place with two-games in-hand. Had the season continued, Heath would have had a good shot at chasing Gas Rec for the title but they will hope they can progress in the Cup instead, looking to avoid an upset against a Division Two side.
Stanway Pegasus vs University of Essex (Student Union) – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
Stanway Pegasus will host University of Essex in the opening Round of the Knockout Cup. Pegasus were one of the strongest sides in the Premier Division last season, seeing them 3rd with 22-points but with games in-hand on both Gas Rec and Colne Athletic who has 28 and 24 points respectively. After 10-games, Stanway Pegasus had won 7, drew 1 and lost 2 putting them in a very good position to rise to 1st-place after playing their games in-hand. They face a much lower opposition in the University of Essex (Student Union) who play their trade in Division Three. The Uni sat 10th in the Third Division when the season was paused after just 5-games, with a record of won 4 and drew 1. Although the club sat below mid-table, having played 5-games compared to the other sides around them, they could have propelled themselves to the top-of-the-table by winning their games in-hand if the season had continued. The visitors will hope they can return to resume their unbeaten form but face a huge test in a side from the top division but anything can happen.
Sudbury Sports vs Hedinghams United – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
Sudbury Sports will host Hedinghams United in the ESBL Knockout Cup. Sudbury sit 7th in the Premier Division after 9-games, with a record of won 5, drew 2 and lost 2. Although they sit 9-points behind the leaders, they had 3-games in-hand so could have challenged towards the top-end had the season resumed. They got up against a Division One side in Hedinghams United. The visitors have struggled this season picking up 6-points in 11-games and finding themselves 14th and 6-points off the bottom. Hedinghams would have found it tough to rise up the table with sides above them having the luxury of games in-hand although they would have hoped to pick up more points to save them from the drop. Sudbury Sports will go into the game as clear favourites although an out-of-form Hedinghams could still pose a threat in a Cup competition.
Wethersfield vs Great Bentley – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
Another huge gap in the level of opposition in the First Round will see Wethersfield host Great Bentley. The hosts play in Division Four of the League but had a tough season. After 10-games, they found themselves 14th with a record of won 2, drew 1 and lost 7 and had a gap of 4-points to the bottom side Parkeston Welfare Park. Had the season continued, Wethersfield would have hoped to stay above PWP and Tollesbury Reserves to avoid any form of drop. They go up against a side in the Premier Division. Great Bentley also played 10-games in their division but found themselves 4th. Having won 6, drew 2 and lost 2 sees Bentley sit 8-points off the leaders with 2-games in-hand meaning they could have chased down the title had the season resumed. Great Bentley will be another overwhelming favourite going into the first round and will hope to avoid a huge upset against a lower division opposition.
White Notley vs Belle Vue Social Club – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
White Notley will welcome one of the strongest teams below the Premier Division in Belle Vue Social Club. White Notely found themselves 9th after 9-games, having played 5, drew 1 and lost 3. Had the season continued, White Notley could have been another side who challenged towards the top end of the division had they won their 3-games in-hand. They come up against Belle Vue, another side challenging for the title but in Division One. Belle Vue sat top and were level on points with Silver End United but with a game in-hand. After 9-games, they had won 8 and lost 1 putting them in the best position to lift the title. This isn’t going to be an easy game for the Premier Division side with Belle Vue being a strong side but needing to be on their game if they are to upset the opposition.
Gas Recreation vs FC Clacton Reserves – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
Premier Division leaders will welcome FC Clacton Reserves in the First Round of the Cup. Gas Recreation sat 4-points clear of the division but having played 12-games, giving others the chance to make up the difference. Out of those 12-games, they had won 9, drew 1 and lost 2 and they certainly would have remained favourites to win the title. FC Clacton Reserves were also within the mix for the title but in Division One. Having played 10-games, the Reserves sat 3rd, a point behind both Silver End United and Belle Vue but with touching distance of 4th down to 6th. Their record of won 7, drew 2 and lost 1 put them in a decent position had the season resumed. Although Gas Rec will be slight favourites, they face a tough opposition would could deliver an upset on the day.
Hatfield Peverel vs New Field – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
Hatfield Peverel will host lower opposition as they host New Field. Hatfield found themselves 13th after 11-games, having won 3, drew 1 and lost 7. Although relegation wasn’t an immediate threat for the club, they sat 7-points above the drop with plenty of games still to play. Division Four side New Field were 5th when the season was halted after also playing 11-games. Out of those 11-games, New Field had won 7, drew 1 and lost 3 putting them 5-points off the top. While they didn’t have games in-hand, they could see change at the top had the season continued. Hatfield will go into the game as strong favourites but New Field will hope a one-off game could see them through.
Gosfield United vs Dovercourt Rovers – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
Gosfield United will welcome Dovercourt Rovers in the opening round of the Cup. The Division One side, Gosfield, found themselves 12th after 9-games, having won 3, drew 1 and lost 5. They found themselves level on points with Mersea Island, and Cressing United but still within a chance of rising up the table with sides above having played one or two more games. They face up to lower opposition in Division Four side Dovercourt. Rovers found themselves 3rd when the season was paused having played 10-games. Of those games, they had won 8 and drew and lost just a single game. That put them within two-points off the top-two with a game in-hand over Ramsey & Mistley but having played a game more than Frinton & Walton. Gosfield will be favourites against a side 3-divisions below but they will have to be wary as they face a very good Division Four side.
Harwich Rangers vs Tiptree Jobserve – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
Harwich Rangers will host higher opposition as they welcome Tiptree Jobserve in the First Round. Rangers had a season to forget, finding themselves 15th after 10-games with a record of won 1, drew 1 and lost 8. Had the season continued, they could have found themselves bottom with Brantham Athletic ‘A’ having two-games in-hand but still searching for their first win of the season. They sat two-points ahead of Brantham but two-behind Oyster and St Osyth. Tiptree found themselves 4th after 8-games. Tiptree Jobserve were yet to lose a game, having won 7 and drew one, putting them in a good position to challenge for the title as they sat 2-points off the top with 1-2 games in-hand. The visitors will be slight favourites going into the fixture but they will be cautious in a knockout format.
Stanway Rovers Reserves vs Felstead Rovers – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
Division One Stanway Rovers Reserves will host as fellow-Rovers as Felstead visit in the opening weekend of the Cup. The hosts found themselves 13th after just 7-games, having won 2, drew 1 and lost 4. Their position in the table in relation to their points-tally put them in a good position to move up the table, having 1-4 games in-hand on the sides around them. Felstead, of the Third Division, found themselves 3rd after 9-games. Their record of 7 wins and two losses, put them 4-points behind the leaders Thorpe Athletic, with a game in-hand. Although they couldn’t immediately jump into the lead, they still had a good shot in the title charge had the season continued. Stanway Rovers Reserves will hope to be the dominate side on the pitch rather than just on paper but will be very aware that they face a tough from a lower division.
Sporting Rebels vs Harwich & Parkeston Reserves – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
Sporting Rebels will host higher opposition in Harwich & Parkeston Reserves. The Rebels play in Division Three of the Essex & Suffolk Border League and found themselves 4th when the season was halted. After 11-games, they had won 6, drew 3 and lost 2, putting them within 4-points of the leaders but having played the most games of the top-four sides. Their opponents, Harwich Reserves, were leading the division when the season was paused, holding a 7-point lead over Lawford Reserves. 10 wins, and a draw and a loss from their opening 12-games gave the Reserves a comfortable lead in the table but now attention will turn to the Cup. Although Harwich will be slight favourites, this will be a tough game for both sides as they look to reach the Second Round.
Oyster vs Brightlingsea Town – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
One of the few all-division clashes will see Oyster host Brightlingsea Town. Oyster found themselves 14th in Division Two after 10-games, having won 1, drew 3 and lost 6. Oyster would have hoped to remain 4-points ahead of Brantham had the season resumed or even extended their lead. Brightlingsea Town sat 4-points ahead of Oyster after 9-games, with a record of won 3, drew 1 and lost 5. Town could have closed the gap on the sides above had the season resumed with 1-2 games in-hand on a few teams above but this will be a tough game for both sides. Based on league positions, Brightlingsea will be deemed favourites but Oyster will try to make the most of the opportunity to progress.
Thorpe Athletic vs Tollesbury – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
Thorpe Athletic will host higher opposition in Tollesbury. Thorpe Athletic held a 3-point lead in Division Three having played 10-games. Of those 10-games, they had won 8, drew 1 and lost 1, putting them in a good position to go for the title had the season continued. Tollesbury sat 4th in Division Two when the season was curtailed. After 10-games, they had won 6, drew 3 and lost 1, putting them 3-points behind Lawford Lads Reserves in 2nd-place with a game in-hand. Tollesbury will be the favourites going into the game but a small gap between the two-sides may not prove to be a massive difference.
Cavendish vs Abbey Field – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
Cavendish will host Division Three side Abbey Field in the opening round of the Knockout Cup. The hosts were 3rd in Division Two when the season was halted after 9-games. They had won 8 and lost just one, putting them 7-points off the leaders but with 3-games in-hand. Had the season continued, they could have found themselves top but now they will look to progress in the Cup against Abbey Field. They didn’t find themselves competing for the title as they were 13th after 11-games, having won and drawn once and lost 9. They found themselves 4-points ahead of Hedinghams Reserves bit having played two-games more so would have be wary that they could have found themselves bottom. Instead, they will now try and overcome higher opposition to progress in the Knockout Cup.
Little Clacton vs Langham Lodgers – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
Another of the few inter-division ties sees Little Clacton host Langham Lodgers. Little Clacton find themselves 11th after 11-games, having won 3 and lost 8. Clacton may have found themselves falling down the order had the season resumed with teams above and below them having plenty of games in-hand including their opponents in the first round of the Knockout Cup. Langham Lodgers found themselves just below Clacton in 12th, having played 9-games. Of those games, they had won 2, drew 1 and lost 6. Langham may have found themselves leap-frogging Little Clacton, having two-games in-hand, if the season resumed but now they will battle it out for a place in the next round. On paper, Little Clacton will be favourites but this will be a tougher game than either side will expect.
Ramsey & Mistley Saturday vs Kelvedon Social – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
Ramsey & Mistley Saturday will host Kelvedon Social in another all-Division Three clash. Ramsey & Mistley found themselves 8th after 12-games, with a record of won 6 and lost 6. Having played the most games in the division, Ramsey may have dropped down the order in football had returned and they will be hoping for a better 2021/22 season. Their opponents found themselves a point better off in 5th but having played 5-games less. Kelvedon had a shot at the title chase, finding themselves 6-points off Thorpe Athletic with 3-games in-hand after winning 6, drawing 3 and losing 2. Social will be the favourites for this game but Ramsey will hope they can cause a slight upset with a win to progress.
Dedham Old Boys Reserves vs Tiptree Heath Reserves – Saturday 17th April, 2.30pm
A tie at a later date for Dedham Old Boys due to their involvement in the Reserve Knockout Cup sees them host Tiptree Heath Reserves on the following week. Old Boys Reserves were 11th when the season was paused, having picked up 10-points from 10-games with a record of won 2, drew 4 and lost 4. Teams may have pulled away from the reserves had the season resumed with games in-hand with teams around them. Tiptree Heath Reserves were 15th in Division Three when the season was paused. After 8-games, they had won 1 and lost 7, putting them just 3-points above Hedinghams United Reserves, who sit rock-bottom after 9-games. Dedham will go into the game as favourites and hope to avoid an upset as they face a struggling league side.
Holland A vs Barnston – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
Holland A will host Barnston in the Second Round of the competition. The hosts haven’t had the best season in Division One, finding themselves 15th after 11-games, with a record of won 1, drew 2 and lost 8. With sides below them having games in-hand, Holland would have hoped not to drop of the foot of the table. Barnston themselves were 15th after 8-games but in the Premier Division. Of those 8-games, Barnston had won 3 and lost 5. With themselves hoping to avoid dropping to the foot of the table by winning their games in-hand. Barnston will be favourites going into the game but both sides will need to improve their form if they are to progress in the Cup.
Shrub End United vs Colne Athletic – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
Shrub End United are another Division One side to host a Premier Division opponent. The hosts were 9th in the table when the season was halted after 9-games, with a record of won 4, drew 1 and lost 4. With games in-hand of the sides above, they could have rose but will hope they can progress in the Cup instead. To do so, they have to beat a strong side in Colne Athletic. The visitors were 2nd in the top division, just behind Gas Rec having played a game more. Teams below them also had games in-hand but Athletic were no doubt in the title race with the teams around them. The Premier Division side will be firm favourites but Shrub End will hope it’s their day to progress to the Third Round.
Frinton & Walton vs Dunmow Town – Saturday 10th April, 2.30pm
Frinton & Walton will host a strong Dunmow side in the Second Round. The hosts were favourites to get promoted to Division Three as they led the lowest division on goal-difference but with two games in-hand over the team just below them. Dunmow Town found themselves 8th when the season was paused in December having won 5 and lost two of their 7-games. With plenty of games in-hand, they would have hoped to go for the title but will now hope they can win the Knockout Cup. To do so, they will have to avoid an upset against a Division Four side but should get over the line.