New season is set to kick off

Following what seems a very short close season, South of Scotland football kicks off again on Saturday with a full programme of league fixtures.

And there is a midweek programme with 7pm kick-offs on Wednesday night.

The league competition this season looks wide open with Dalbeattie Star and Threave Rovers opting to play in the newly-formed Scottish Lowland League.

It will take two or three games to see how clubs are faring, as most of them have new faces in their respective line-ups.

Newcomers Lochar Thistle, from the Dumfries Amateur League, play their first match in the South League against Abbey Vale at New Abbey and, from reports, appear to have been performing well in pre-season friendlies.

This match could be an even affair, with the more experienced Vale maybe just edging a positive result.

Newton Stewart, who are playing all their matches away from home until their new 3G pitch is completed, travel to Dumfries to play Crichton for a game that will see both teams fielding some new players from last season.

Matches between these two sides are always close affairs and there is nothing to suggest that this one will be any different.

Fleet Star are another team who have strengthened under new manager, ex-Threave Rovers player Mark Adams, and are expected to give a new look St Cuthbert Wanderers team a close match.

Nithsdale Wanderers play hosts to Heston Rovers at Sanquhar in another contest that could go close, although with home advantage favouring Nithsdale it could well be them that will be happier of the two teams come the finish of this encounter.

Wigtown and Bladnoch have a stronger team than last season and will be favourites in many people’s minds to land this season’s league title.

They start their campaign with a home match against Mid-Annandale at Trammondford Park. This should see the Wigtownshire side land their first three points and, with another two home matches in succession, the Trammondford Park side are more than capable of getting themselves ahead of the pack early on in the season.

There is also a full prohramme of fixtures scheduled for midweek to be played on Wednesday night with 7pm kick-offs.

Heston Rovers play their first home game at Palmerston Park where they will play the 3G pitch this season when they play St Cuthbert Wanderers, playing their early season matches away from home until their new 3G pitch is installed at St Mary’s Park.

Lochar Thistle entertain Dumfries neighbours Crichton for their first home match in what could be a very evenly contested game.

Mid-Annandale play Creetown on the 3G pitch at Galabank, while Nithsdale Wanderers enjoy another home tie, this time against Abbey Vale.

Wigtown and Bladnoch play hosts to Fleet Star and, although the visitors look to have strengthened a lot since last season, they are expected to find it tough to take anything from this match.

Fixtures for Saturday, July 27

All kick-offs at 3pm

South of Scotland League

Abbey Vale v Lochar Thistle

Crichton v Newton Stewart

Fleet Star v St Cuthbert Wanderers

Nithsdale Wanderers v Heston Rovers

Wigtown and Bladnoch v Mid-Annandale

Fixtures for Wednesday, July 31

All kick-offs at 7pm

South of Scotland League

Heston Rovers v St Cuthbert Wanderers

Lochar Thistle v Crichton

Mid-Annandale v Creetown

Nithsdale Wanderers v Abbey Vale

Wigtown and Bladnoch v Fleet Star