News and Match Reports

16th October 2021 - Ruardean Hill Rangers run riot.

Ron Holpin

results

Ruardean Hill Rangers run riot at home to Hanham Athletic and Bromley Heath United take a hiding at Sharpness.

Ruardean Hill Rangers inflicted a heavy defeat on Hanham Athletic it was just 2-1 to the home side at half time but a double hattrick from Steve Clark supported by his team mates who chipped in with a further five saw double figures against a club in the Gloucestershire County Football League for the first time in a number of years. Harry Clark opened the scoring for Rangers but Hanham Athletic hit back straight away with a goal from James Fry. Steve Clark then made it 2-1 to Rangers at the break. The second half was totally dominated by Rangers and Steve Clark scored two more to complete his first hattrick. Josh Sladen then scored his first goal of the season and Fin Jones then made it 6-1 before Clark hit a second hattrick to bring his total to six for the game to complete the scoring Luke Brown contributed with two late goals.

Henbury will be wondering how they lost this game at home to Broadwell Amateurs. The first action of the game came on 10 minutes when David Duru won the ball off the Broadwell centre half but then shot tamely at the keeper. 2 minutes later Broadwell forced three corners in succession but the Henbury defence stayed resolute. In the 14th minute Andrew Dickinson beat his man and fired across the 6 yd box but there was no one there to tap home. The home side piled on the pressure, David Duru having 3 good opportunities but he could not find the net. On 39 minutes Broadwell took the lead, a free kick was swung into the box and a Henbury defender turned it into his own net. Henbury went straight up the other end and David Duru had a great chance to equalise but was unable to convert as the goalkeeper made a good save.

The second half came to life in the 68th minute when Lewis Jefferies in the Henbury goal pulled off a fine double save, the first from a free-kick and the second from the resulting close range follow up. 5 minutes later Henbury had a great chance to get back in the game when Andrew Dickinson was a fouled in the box. The Broadwell keeper saved the penalty and in the resulting goalmouth scramble the Broadwell defenders somehow smuggled the ball behind.

Sharpness gave today’s visitors Bromley Heath United a lesson on how to score goals with out reply in this 7-0 route at Hamfields. Bromley’s Alvin Nurse had a great chance to give them the lead on 10 minutes but shot straight into the arms of keeper Truan Taylor. Then a corner just a minute later from Mitch Green was headed over by Olly Amos. After those two early misses it cost the visitors when they fell behind when Alex Higgs was tripped in the box and James Priday netted from the spot. A free kick from Priday to the back post found Ben Gibbs but the Bromley keeper saved. Sharpness went 2-0 up on 31 minutes from a deep cross from Alex Higgs to Will Lacey who beat the keeper to the bouncing ball on the edge of the box and the ball rolled over the line. On 43 minutes a ball down the channel from Ben Gibbs found Alex Higgs who cut in and hit a strong shot but it was well saved by keeper Joel Manning’s. Right on half time good run down the left by Bromley’s Antonio Nurse who crossed to Alvin Nurse but keeper Truan Taylor was brave and dived at his feet to smother the ball. Will Lacey made it 3-0 to the home side on 50 minutes with a neat chip over the keeper from the edge of the box. Five minutes later Alex Higgs headed in a free kick from Will Lacey. Just a minute later Alex Higgs put Dan Turner clear to make it 5-0. On 78 minutes Alex Higgs smashed home number six. Then on 90 minutes Payne headed home from an Alex Higgs cross to complete the scoring.

Shirehampton were held to a goalless first half by Quedgeley Wanderers with the only two chances in the first 45 minutes falling to the home side Joe Harvey struck the crossbar on 10 minutes and seven minutes later Bamford fired over the bar. The home side took the lead midway through the second half with a headed goal from James Kenway, then on 78 minutes Wanderers Dan Lander was unlucky not to have levelled but Turner in the home goal pulled off a great save. The home side made it 2-0 on 80 minutes Scott Bamford latching onto a poor clearance by the Wanderers keeper to drive the ball home from 20 yards. Bamford then netted his second to make sure that his side took the three points.

Frampton United had to travel to Gala Wilton today and were the only other unbeaten side apart from the leaders. But after going two goals down they hit back to level the score and then let in a late goal. Gala took the lead with a spectacular goal from Brad Loveridge a 35-yard screamer that flew into the roof of the Frampton net. They then went 2-0 up when Marcus Foxwell crossed the ball for Dan McNally to head home at the far post. The visitors then pulled a goal back from a strike by Dom Brown and soon after Manolo Espada netted a second to make it 2-2. Gala stole the points in the 72nd minute when Dan Gaynor was put clear to fire home.

A point each at Patchway Town where today’s visitors were English Bicknor. It was the forest team that took the lead on 44 minutes with a goal from Jordan Heales. Mateo Pali levelled for the home side on 53 minutes and although there were other chances from both sides throughout the game none were taken and the score ended 1-1.

Little Stoke and Rockleaze Rangers also ended in a 1-1 score line but again there were numerous other chances from both sides throughout the game but none converted. Little Stoke went ahead on 10 minutes when John Pugsley headed Alex hills cross onto the post and it skidded into the net. A few minutes later another chance for the home side but Neil Bailey’s header from John Pugsley cross went wide. Rangers levelled on 22 minutes when the home side lost possession in midfield and Dan Bailey was put clear to score. On 60 minutes Aaron West might have scored but the Rangers keeper saved well. Rangers were reduced to 10 men on 80 minutes but the home side failed to capitalise and the game finished al square.

After failing to find the back of the net in the last two weeks Wick bounced back with a 3-1 victory over today’s visitors Hardwicke. Both sides started well but after 10 minutes Wick’s Rob Moore was pushed in the back in the penalty area and from the resulting spot kick Mike Hardiman put them ahead. That became 2-0 when Luke Lecrass sent a great ball into the box and Rob Moore rose above everyone to nod the ball home. The visitors missed a great chance just before the break to reduce the arrears. Although the visitors started the better side in the second period it was Wick who nearly scored again when they hit the crossbar. Hardwicke did pull a goal back when Will Matthews beat keeper Ashley Wintle to the ball on the edge of the box after the ball had been hit long from the Hardwicke defence. Wick finally sealed the points on 88 minutes when Mike Hardiman scored his second, heading in at the far post.

9th October 2021 - Ruardean Hill Rangers into Les James Cup Semi-Final - sponsored by Boca TeamWear

Ron Holpin

results

Hardwicke entertained Ruardean Hill Rangers in the quarter final of The Les James Cup and were seeking to be the first club to win this on three occasions. On a fine afternoon the initial 25 minutes remained evenly contested. It was the away side who had the first opportunity after 26 minutes when Luke Brown threaded the ball into the path of Steve Clarke but the Hardwicke keeper, Ollie Hall, raced off his line to thwart Clarke. This attack gave Hardwicke some impetus and four minutes later Hardwicke’s Shayne Thorpe chipped the ball to James Ratcliffe but Keeper Arron Underwood raced off his line to prevent Hardwicke taking the lead. Three minutes later Hardwicke should have taken the lead when Will Mathews crossed to Freddie Humphries who’s out stretched leg touched the ball over the crossbar. The game started to come to life after an even half and Ruardean took the lead on 40 minutes; Fin Jones slotted the ball through the Hardwicke defence for Steve Clarke to fire a shot low past the advancing Hall. Hardwicke bounced back within a minute to level the score, Pat Vernal carried the ball from his own half and passed to youngster Ben King whose cross was sweetly headed into the goal by Will Mathews.

The second half started in the same manner as the first half with both sides evenly matched. Hardwicke had a fine opportunity on 60 minutes when a Glen Gittings strode into the Ruardean half and passed to Will Mathews whose powerful drive was tipped onto the bar by Aaron Underwood. With the match looking as though it would be finalised by Penalties Hardwicke’s Scott Eales brought down Clarke in the 88th minute who put Ruardean ahead from the resulting penalty. Hardwicke sought to have another quick equaliser and as they pushed forward lost the ball at the half way line to striker Mike Coleman. Coleman swiftly raced towards the Hardwicke goal with Hall to beat but a fine tackle by Sean Clarke prevented Ruardean from scoring a third.

9th October 2021 - Quedgeley Wanderers stun Wick

Ron Holpin

results

Shirehampton open up a five-point gap with a win at English Bicknor. Wick lost ground losing at Quedgeley and Frampton slipped into second place with a win at home to Sharpness.

A surprise result of the day was the Quedgeley Wanderers 1-0 defeat of title challengers Wick. The visitors had a lions share of the possession throughout the game and Ben Harris went close with a shot from the edge of the box early on. Walt Greenwood replied for the home side but his shot cleared the bar. Wick had the ball in the back of the Wanderers net on 33 minutes but it was ruled out for offside. Home keeper Tom Farmer pulled of a great save to keep the score at 0-0. Wanderers broke the deadlock when Jack Hornsby finished off a great through ball from Sean Lawson a few minutes before half time. Wick had a penalty appeal turned down and home keeper Tom Farmer save well again from Ben Harris on 58 minutes. Wick continued to attack looking for the elusive goal but Farmer managed to keep the ball out of his net for a great win.

Hanham Athletic took a heavy defeat at home to Little Stoke going down 7-0. Jude Scott gave the visitors the lead on 31 minutes with a shot from the edge of the box and 4 minutes later it was 2-0 from a 20-yard shot from Alex Hill. Jaidon Holver netted a third with a neat 25-yard drive before the break. The relentless attack from Stoke continued in the second half when John Pugsley scored from the penalty spot after Phillipp Kourouma had been felled in the box. John Puglsley then sent over a cross for Henry Newman to head home number five and then Pugsley crossed again for Phillipp Kouroumea to head home the sixth. A great bit of skill for the final goal as Jaidon Holver lifted the ball over the Hanham keeper Brad Price and then dribbled the ball into the net. The Hanham keeper Price was outstanding all afternoon and if it had not been for some fantastic saves the score line could have been much worse for the home side.

Rockleaze Rangers are having a bad run at present and went down again this week to single goal. Henbury were the visitors and will be well please with this result. The home side were well under par and it was the visitors who should have taken the lead after just 2 minutes but Kane Manning missed the target from 6 yards. He did however give Henbury the lead right on half time when he fired home a curling shot. Manning had another good chance on 65 minutes but his shot struck the outside of the post. In the 88th minute Henbury were again unlucky when Ross Jones struck the crossbar.

A close game at Frampton United where today’s visitors were Sharpness. Frampton went close on 20 minutes when Steve Jackson’s long-range shot was turned around the post by keeper Truan Taylor. On 24 minutes the visitor’s saw Tom Patterson’s effort on goal blocked. On 41 minutes Taylor brought of another great save to deny Manolo Espada’s shot from going in. The home side took the lead when George Blythe’s shot was only parried by Taylor and Espada followed up to drive the ball home. Tom Patterson went close in the 67th minute but his header went just wide. Sharpness almost levelled the score on 73 minutes but Ryan Ponting’s header from a corner struck the crossbar.

English Bicknor’s second home game against the league leaders Shirehampton facing them in the Cup earlier on in the season. Unfortunately, the result was the same with the visitors going home with a win. Shire were awarded a penalty early on but Craig Edwards in the home goal brought of a great save to deny Scott Bamford’s shot from the spot. Then just a few minutes later Bamford made up for that miss with a goal to put Shire 1-0 up. The home side created several chances but failed to take any of them and continuously gave the ball away when in possession. Shirehampton sealed the three points on 80 minutes with a Matt McCall goal and a 2-0 win.

Broadwell Amateurs home form continued today with a 2-1 win over Gala Wilton. A good start from both sides but the home side had a great chance on 20 minutes but Kristian Burnard shot wide. Gala’s Callum Thomas could well have given Gala the lead on 25 minutes but his header went just past the post. A break from Jordan Locke down the right and a through ball for Liam Thomas to latch onto saw the ball squared across the goal for Tom Scotford to give the home side the lead. 5 minutes later it was 2-0 and what a great goal from youngster Kian Skidmore a 35-yard volley that flew into the top of the net. Gala had the ball in the net a minute later but it was ruled out for offside. Gala gave themselves a lifeline on 75 minutes it started as a free kick that was pushed away for a corner by keeper Watkins and when the corner came in Marcus Foxwell hit it so hard that Watkins could only push the ball into the roof of the net. In the 82nd minute Broadwell had a chance to score a third when Dan Brain was brought down in the box for a penalty. Jordan Locke hit the spot kick well but keeper Lewis Skyers brought of a fantastic save.

Bromley Heath United slipped up again by the odd goal losing 2-1 at home to Patchway Town

. They fell behind after just 5 minutes with a goal from Matteo Pali. Although the home side were always in the game they cannot seem to find the finishing touches they need to get the ball in the net. Bromley found themselves trailing 2-0 five minutes into the second half when Phil Vice netted from the penalty spot. They did pull a goal back in the 80th minute with a long range shot from Alvin Nurse but just could not find another to salvage a point.

9th October 2021 - Henbury boss believes club is on the up

Simon Parkinson

DAVE Greaves insists Henbury have every reason to believe they are on an upturn after finally achieving an elusive victory breakthrough at the weekend.

The Arnall Drive outfit had already shown a more consistent competitive streak in going down 3-2 at home to Quedgeley Wanderers, and holding Hardwicke to a 2-2 draw on their Marcliff Gloucestershire County League travels, immediately before Hanham Athletic fell prey to a first Henbury success in Saturday’s 3-2 outcome.

Henbury eye more of the same tomorrow when they return to the road to confront Rockleaze Rangers 3G hosts who have themselves experienced ups and downs over their own seven rollercoaster fixtures thus far.

Greaves took over the Henbury hot seat this summer in tandem with Tim Seymour, the pair having formed the management team at Sea Mills Park before seizing the Arnall Drive leadership opportunity after previous bosses Trevor Richards and Jason Tarr vacated the post.

The new incumbent, 39, explained: “My brother Danny (Greaves, Frome Town manager) saw that Henbury were looking for new management and urged me to go for it. He knew Jason there and before I knew it, I was aboard after presenting my ideas and plans to the club.

“I’d always striven to be the best I could be as a right-back, wing-back and, in later times, centre-half with the likes of Little Stoke only last season, and Roman Glass, Hallen and Cadbury Heath before that. That passion and desire to do well as a manager was burning bright in me in the same way.

“It was hard for Tim and me to leave Sea Mills because we loved it so much there. I felt the lads understood we couldn’t turn down this new challenge Henbury offered, and we left on good terms.

“In some ways taking over here was harder than I’d anticipated at first. Things had not been great for several years and it seemed several of the Henbury old guard had fallen out of love with the game, something I’d not expected to see.

“That spark just wasn’t there anymore, yet it’s gradually started returning. The interest is back and you can sense the old vibe is there again.”

That new-found positivity has been fuelled, according to Greaves, by the return to prominence of the experienced Rosser brothers, midfielder Adam and centre-half Aaron.

“It’s massive having those two back,” Greaves purred. “Adam is a quality player showing real appetite again after thinking of hanging up his boots; and it’s a massive boost having Aaron back after a cruciate ligament injury.

“A lot of our poor results have been down to defensive mistakes and having those two in there should make a big difference, just as having Kane Mannings back upfront is of real benefit too as he certainly knows where the back of the net is.

“It’s not just on the field things are looking better, with some talented youth and reserves coming through to give legs to the experienced ones. Our chairman Charlie Barron has been with the club something like 50 years, yet he’s built a standing area almost singlehandedly and is now looking at erecting a small stand.

“Basically he’s pushing to get everything in place off the field to enable us to progress to the next level up, and it’s humbling and inspiring to see his heart and soul is still very much in what he does.”

Of the securement of that precious first win at the weekend, Greaves reflected: “I’d said to the lads beforehand that just because Hanham had struggled, it didn’t mean we’d not have to dig deep and grind it out. I warned them it would be ugly, and it was.

“That’s what’s impressed me the most about our lads during the down times; they’ve shown so much character and hunger to bounce back each and every time, something Tim and I are extremely hot on as managers,” stressed Greaves, who has welcomed aboard of late versatile former Hambrook defender Toby Vosper, and “all-action” midfielder Matt Jones.

Elsewhere in the County League tomorrow, Shirehampton head to English Bicknor in the Forest attempting to maintain their impressive unbeaten form throughout at the head of the table.

As well as the Rockleaze-Henbury tussle there are three other Bristol derbies on show, with Bromley Heath United entertaining Patchway Town – both strive to add to solitary victories so far - and Hanham Athletic, still seeking their first points, hosting Little Stoke.

Wick, enjoying an excellent campaign in second spot, go to Quedgeley Wanderers determined to tighten the three-point gap separating them and Shire.

All games continue to commence at 3pm.

2nd October 2021 - Shirehampton stay top as Wick hit eight

Ron Holpin

results

Two games produced nine goals in todays scheduled fixtures. There were nine at Wick and nine at Ruardean Hill Rangers.

Shirehampton still head the table after todays 3-0 win at Patchway Town. Matt McCall opened the scoring for the leaders on 8 minutes with a shot from 12 yards and that was followed by a second from Scott Bamford in the 37th minute. Patchway’s Fin Thompson had a couple of shots on target in the first half but failed to find the back of the Shire net. 2 minutes into the second half Shirehampton made it 3-0 after Patchway keeper Sam Burgess denied Bamford by saving his shot on target but was unable to stop the rebound that had fallen to James Kenway. The home side almost pulled a goal back in the 82nd minute but Troy Simpson’s shot was well saved by the visitor’s keeper.

Wick showed no mercy to todays visitors English Bicknor finding the back of their net eight times and only conceding one in reply. The home side were rampant from the start and missed early chances. But for a good save by home keeper Ashley Wintle at the other end Bicknor might have gone ahead. The opening goal for Wick came on the 36th minute Mike Hardiman stroking the ball home following a corner. A minute into the second half the home side doubled their lead Rob Moore slotting home after Bicknor keeper Edwards spilled Harris’s shot. Luke Lecrass then made it 3-0 from a corner and on 57 minutes Ben Harris’s shot beat Edwards to make it 4-0. It became 5-0 in the 62nd minute when Rob Moore headed his second from a Jordan Yeo cross. English Bicknor did eventually get on the score sheet on 65 minutes when an innocuous cross from Liam Davies evaded everyone and ended up in the back of the Wick net. Mike Hardiman netted his second to make it 6-1. Then Joe Thomas came off the bench and should have scored with almost his first touch but Edwards saved. He did however make up for that miss in the 77th minute when he drifted into the box to hit his shot into the far corner. Hardiman completed his hattrick in the 78th minute with a crisp shot from just inside the box.

Another 8-1 victory of the afternoon took place at Ruardean Hill Rangers with Quedgeley Wanderers finding themselves on the receiving end. This was the first win of the season for the home side and they certainly did it in style. Rangers went ahead on 5 minutes when Steve Clarke latched onto a long ball from keeper Arron Underwood and rounded the Quedgeley keeper to slot home. Steve Clarke and Fin Jones linked up to give Harry Clarke his chance to make it 2-0 on 25 minutes and that was the score after 45 minutes. Five minutes into the second half another good move from the home side saw Luke Brown score at the near post. Jack Hornsby pulled a goal back for Quedgeley before the flood gates opened and Steve Clarke went on to complete his hattrick and Harry Clarke finished it off with three late goals.

An own goal from a Rockleaze Rangers defender in the 50th minute saw Gala Wilton take all three points in which they had the lions share of possession. Early in the game Craig Howell struck the crossbar for Gala but then in the 65th minute he was sin-binned for dissent. Rangers failed to take advantage of having one more player and went home with nothing to show for their efforts.

Bromley Heath United gained a valuable point in a 1-1 draw in their home encounter with Frampton United. The first part of the game saw both sides have equal possession but in the 20th minute Frampton might have taken the lead but Fin Blythe’s shot hit the base of the post. The home side took the lead on 35 minutes after some excellent play between the Nurse brothers with Antonio firing a low shot under the keeper. That lead last just 5 minutes when Frampton’s Joel White scrambled the ball home following a corner. The second half failed to produce much in the way of chances but the report suggested that a draw was a fair result.

Little Stoke and Hardwicke also played out a 2-2 draw. The home side had several chances early on but failed to find the back of the net. The first real scoring chance fell to Hardwicke on 40 minutes when Sean Clarke’s shot struck the crossbar. On 43 minutes Stokes John Pugsley also hit the crossbar from a shot out wide. Little Stoke went ahead on 60 minutes when John Pugsley’s through ball found Lucas Hart who was brought down in the box for a penalty. Pugsley took the spot kick and gave the Hardwicke keeper no chance. The visitors hit back on 68 minutes form a long free kick to the far post where Pat Vernall headed it back across goal for James Ratcliffe to tap in. Hardwicke then took the lead 4 minutes later and in a goalmouth scramble Will Matthews sliced the ball into the Stoke net. With just 5 minutes to go Little Stoke levelled the score, John Pugsley’s cross found Phillipp Kourouma on the far post to head back across goal and into the net.

Henbury pick up their first win of the season with a 3-2 victory over basement Club Hanham Athletic. After an uneventful start the game sprang to life on 13 mins, when a throw in from quick thinking Toby Vosper found Kane Mannings who beat the Hanham goal keeper with a fierce strike to make it 1-0. On 18 minutes Hanham had the ball in the net but it's ruled out for offside. Kane Mannings made it 2 - 0 in the 26th minute after latching on to a through ball and slotting past the Hanham keeper. With the clock ticking down to half-time, Kane Mannings completed his second Hattrick of the season to give Henbury a 3-0 lead after a smart finish just inside the far post from a Jensen Manning’s through ball. The game turned on its head in the 44th minute when Josh Gibb converted for Hanham to make it 3-1. Hanham piled on the pressure in the last minute of the first half but a fine double save from Lewis Jefferies kept the score to 3-1 at the break.

6 minutes into the 2nd half Hanham made it 3-2 when Justin Lee pounced to score. With Hanham in the ascendancy, Henbury had 2 goals ruled out for narrow offsides with Brandon Dack and Kane Manning’s being the unfortunate Henbury players. On 85 minutes substitute Matt Jones was denied a goal after a great run into the box, The Hanham keeper making a great stop with his feet. That was the last of the goalmouth action and the home side saw it out to gain three valuable points

Sharpness have picked up three more points with a 3-1 victory over Broadwell Amateurs. A long shot from the Sharks Jack Higgs was well saved after 15 minutes, then on 29 minutes Liam Thomas drove the ball into the side netting for Broadwell. The Sharks went ahead on 35 minutes Alex Higgs heading home a James Litten free kick. Broadwell were level on 42 minutes with a goal from Dan Brain controlling a looping ball cutting in and bending it into the top corner. The Sharks retook the lead on 52 minutes following a corner the ball was headed out by the Broadwell defence but Ponting knocked it back into the danger area and a Brad Gibbs header glanced of the bar and over the line. The home side made it 3-1 on 61 minutes from a corner delivered by Lacey with Alex Higgs heading it home. On 72 minutes Liam Thomas broke through for Broadwell but failed to get the ball past Taylor in the home goal.

2nd October 2021 - Little Stoke boss looking for upturn as players return

Simon Parkinson

ASH Coles is keeping everything crossed the imminent return of several influential players can help push his Little Stoke triers in the right direction again.

His team could hardly have begun their Marcliff Gloucestershire County League campaign in more productive fashion, with successive victories from the off over Henbury (4-1), Patchway Town (3-2) and Ruardean Hill Rangers (2-0).

Then the dip, a slender 1-0 home reverse at the hands of Wick followed up with 3-0 and 3-1 defeats by English Bicknor and Quedgeley Wanderers respectively, although Little Stoke did overcome struggling Hanham Athletic 2-0 at home in a more successful Les James League Cup opener.

Little Stoke attempt to reverse their fortunes again tomorrow (3pm) when they play host to a Hardwicke outfit without a win in six attempts. The Gloucester team did, however, see off Rockleaze Rangers 2-0 on their travels amid their own early League Cup commitments, a fact Coles and Co will no doubt have noted.

“We’re even-stevens going into Saturday: three wins, three losses,” Coles stated. “We made a good start and even in going down 1-0 to Wick, we gave as good as we got and they managed to just pip us in the second half.

“Our last two games have been disappointing. Our football was actually good against English Bicknor; but we missed umpteen chances and made three mistakes costing us all three goals with the only shots of note they had.

“Fair play to Bicknor, they were big and strong and didn’t relent for the entire 90 minutes. But at 1-0 down we hit their bar and post, missed a couple of one-on-one opportunities, and their keeper had one of those inspired days when nothing was ever going to beat him.

“Against Quedgeley we looked good for the first 20 minutes and went 1-0 up through Jaiden Holver, only to take our feet off the pedal and allow them back into the game.

“We were probably better than them in the second half; but again we were off colour and the 3-1 scoreline reflected our performance.”

Coles emphasised: “It’s not an excuse; we’re having to make so many changes week in, week out. Not being able to get anything like a settled side hasn’t helped at all.

“That’s no slight on the lads; they’re all prepared to work hard for each other, and their attitudes to a man have been great.

“Things were looking positive during pre-season; we were scoring lots of goals and not shipping too many. Given that, it didn’t surprise me that we took that form into the start of the season.

“We showed during those early stages that we can compete well with teams at the higher end of the table. Now, with more bodies available to me, I see no reason why we can’t begin to replicate that.”

The Little Stoke supremo has been heartened by the return to duty of a clutch of key personnel, including goalkeeper Connolly Jarrett, defender Alex Fox, central midfielders Alex Hill, Lewis Hughes and Matt Tovey, plus striker Luke Meacham who, like Tovey, is yet to kick a ball in anger this term due to injury troubles.

It led Coles to conclude: “Having that lot back should give us a lot more strength in depth,”

Also kicking off at 3pm tomorrow, unbeaten Shirehampton strive to extend their three point advantage at the summit with three more from their away-day with Patchway Town.

Hard on Shire’s heels in third spot, Wick entertain English Bicknor, while there are home fixtures too for Henbury, against Hanham Athletic, and Bromley Heath, who welcome undefeated Frampton United to Pomphrey Hill HQ.

Rockleaze Rangers seek to reverse a frustrating spell of three straight league losses – four altogether - when they visit strong Gala Wilton opposition without a defeat in their last five fixtures.