Manor Farm boss will be happy to buy the first pint!
By The Bristol Post | Friday, December 07, 2012, 05:00
BROTHERLY love will be put firmly to one side when Bristol Manor Farm and Cadbury Heath clash in a Western League Premier Division derby with a difference at The Creek tomorrow.
The contest pitches Heath boss Andy Black and his brother, who manages Manor Farm, against one another for the first time this season.
And both desperately want the points for very different reasons. Heath are top of the table and chasing a first Premier Division title, while Farm are keen to keep clear of the relegation battle.
John Black joked: "The winner can buy the first beer – I'm more than happy to get that one!
"Andy and I have come up against one another a few times down the years, but this will be the first time since he took over at Cadbury Heath. They are top of the league and this is a game my boys are looking forward to."
Free-scoring earlier in the season, Heath have failed to hit the back of the net in any of their last three games and Andy Black is urging his midfielders to improve the service to strikers Matt Huxley, Mark Reynolds and Sacha Tong.
"We have forwards who can score goals at this level, but we need to create more chances for them," said Black. "We've gone a bit flat in the last few weeks."
On Farm's books for five years before moving to Heath in the summer, Brad Abrahams will be eager to impress on his return to The Creek, while the visitors will be bolstered by the return of defender Joe Chandler.
Should Heath slip-up, second-placed Brislington will be waiting to pounce. Jeff Meacham's side tackle Melksham tomorrow and then face crunch showdowns against title rivals Cadbury Heath, Bishop Sutton and Bitton over the Christmas period.
Meacham said: "The next month will determine where we are in the shake-up." Defender Tony Davis proved his recovery from injury in the reserves last week and returns to the first-team squad.
Hallen's title hopes have been dealt a blow by the loss of talismanic midfielder Luke Garbacz for the rest of the season.
Garbacz has joined The Army and has been advised by his new employers not to risk injury by playing competitive football.
Hallen boss Paul Owen said: "Losing Luke is a real blow, because he has been our outstanding player this season. But he is doing something he has always dreamed of doing and we wish him all the best."
Hallen travel to Buckland Athletic tomorrow determined to extend a six-match winning sequence.
In-form Bishop Sutton may have beaten title rivals Bitton and Street 5-0 and 4-1 respectively in their last two outings, but manager Lee Lashenko is taking nothing for granted ahead of tomorrow's home game against lowly Wells City.
He warned: "Wells need the points to pull away from the bottom and we will have to respect them. No-one is taking this game lightly."
Lashenko is delighted with his team's goalscoring record and added: "We don't have an out-and-out scorer, but we do have four or five players who weigh in regularly. I think that is a healthy situation."
Hengrove Athletic boss Jamie Hillman insists his table-topping team have turned the corner after experiencing a sticky patch in November.
The First Division leaders take on local rivals Oldland Abbotonians this weekend and Hillman said: "We have had our blip, responded well and come through it stronger than ever. The players have shown they can cope with being top of the league and we are in a very good position."
Hillman will be without James Dunn, Mark Fear, Danny Barwood and Sam Williams, none of whom are available, but Luke Crew and Marcus Maggs return. In contrast, Oldland are boosted by the return of Rob Smith, Connor Britton, Tyrone Fudgell and Ally Bamford, all back from suspension, while new signing Lewis Parker, recruited from Bitton, goes straight into a full-strength squad.
Improving Almondsbury UWE have been boosted by news that striker Jordan Rogers has turned down an approach from Premier Division Bristol Manor Farm.
Victorious in their last two games, Almondsbury bid to make it three wins in a row when they host mid-table Corsham.
Portishead boss David Pettitt says his players are relishing the opportunity to take on Keynsham Town on the Crown Field astroturf.
He said: "It will be good to get the ball down and knock it around. We don't get the chance on pitches at this time of the year."
Midfielder Sam Truman is not available, but Portishead will be bolstered by the return of James Clarke from suspension.
John Lester hopes Bitton's players share his hunger for success in this season's FA Vase.
Bristol's last surviving representatives in the competition, Western League Bitton make the long journey to Cornwall to contest a place in the last 32 against St Blazey tomorrow.
And manager Lester is urging his players to pick themselves up and respond in positive fashion to last Saturday's shock 5-0 home defeat at the hands of Bishop Sutton.
Lester questioned his team's commitment and said: "They have to show they care after that.
"I just hope the lads are as up for the next game as I am. I have always done well in the FA Vase, both as a player and a manager, and you cannot beat it. A good result at St Blazey will lift everyone and help us forget about last weekend."