South of Scotland football kicks off the new season this Saturday with a full card of South of Scotland League fixtures.
And there will be another full card on Wednesday evening.
Two of last season’s rising Clubs, Heston Rovers and Newton Stewart, have tough openers against Threave Rovers and Dalbeattie Star respectively.
These matches will be a big test for Heston and Newton, with the Creesiders perhaps having the toughest task when they take on the league champions on their home ground.
However, the Wigtownshire side have had a good pre-season and, having added two or three new players to last season’s squad, will be looking to get off to a flyer.
Champions Star have also added to their very successful side and will be strong favourites to secure the first three points of the season – although they may have to work very hard to do so.
Last season’s runners-up Threave Rovers will not be relishing their trip to Maryfield to play Heston Rovers in a match that looks like it could go either way. Heston have built gradually over the years and are now in a strong position to make challenge on the top teams.
However, the Castle Douglas side are always a very tough nut to crack and will start as slight favourites to record their first league victory of the season but again may well have to pull out all the stops to succeed in doing so.
St Cuthbert Wanderers start their season with a home match against Mid-Annandale in a game which will be watched with interest. Saints have a few new faces in their squad and Mid-Annandale, playing their home matches at Galabank this season, are expected to be another club who will much stronger than last time around. This match will be an indication for both sides of how well their season will progress.
Wigtown and Bladnoch have completely revamped from last season, taking advantage of the demise of Stranraer Reserves, and are expected to be up among the challengers for honours this season. They have Abbey Vale as their visitors to Trammondford Park for a match that the home team are expected to win.
Hospital Park is the venue for Crichton’s first match of the season when they play hosts to Creetown. Neither club enjoyed the best of seasons last time around and will be keen to make their mark early this season. Both will have new faces in their ranks but home advantage may just edge the result in Crichton’s favour, although it could well be a very close contest.
New management at Garries Park means that Fleet Star will also have new players on the field but with Star’s emphasis on youth, a more experienced Nithsdale Wanderers will be favourites to take their first three points of the season.
The league competition continues on Wednesday evening with the match of the day being at Meadow Park, where Threave Rovers have Dalbeattie Star as their visitors in a contest that should go close. Neither side will want to give the other an early advantage in the race for this season’s championship and a share of the points could well be the outcome.
St Cuthbert Wanderers visit New Abbey, while Mid-Annandale play Crichton. Nithsdale Wanderers entertain Heston Rovers at Sanquhar for what could be a very close match, and there are two local derby matches over in the west of the region. Newton Stewart have Fleet Star as their visitors to Blairmount and Creetown entertain Wigtown and Bladnoch at Castle Cary Park.
Fixtures for Saturday, July 28
All kick-offs at 3pm
South of Scotland League
Crichton v Creetown
Dalbeattie Star v Newton Stewart
Fleet Star v Nithsdale Wanderers
Heston Rovers v Threave Rovers
St Cuthbert Wanderers v Mid-Annandale
Wigtown and Bladnoch v Abbey Vale
Fixtures for Wednesday, August 1
Kick-offs at 7pm unless otherwise stated
South of Scotland League
Abbey Vale v St Cuthbert Wanderers
Creetown v Wigtown and Bladnoch
Mid-Annandale v Crichton
Newton Stewart v Fleet Star
Nithsdale Wanderers v Heston Rovers
Threave Rovers v Dalbeattie Star (kick-off 7.30pm)