By John McNaught
Football in the South starts again this Saturday with a full programme of South of Scotland League matches scheduled to be played.
All the teams will be raring to go for the new season having played in friendly and tournament matches since the close of last season. Early season form often depends on the availability of players with summer holidays sometimes overlapping the first few games but with this season expected to be one full of excitement and expectation and clubs will be hoping for a good start.
Abbey Vale back playing in New Abbey on their new pitch kick off their season with a visit from Edusport Academy for a match that victory for the home side would see them getting off to a flyer in their league campaign. Edu sometimes suffer early in the season with players being unavailable so the result of this contest could be decided mainly on what team can field their strongest side.
Creetown ended last season on a high and will be looking to start their campaign with a victory over visitors Heston Rovers but may well have to be at their best to fight off the challenge from the Dumfries side who are always formidable opponents.
There is a local derby at Maxwelltown High School where Lochar Thistle entertain neighbours Dumfries YMCA for a match the home side are expected to win while Threave Rovers who return to South football following their adventures in the Lowland League travel to Lockerbie to play Mid-Annandale. Mids are always a tough team to beat especially at home and this will be a real test for the Castle Douglas side and an indication of how the season will progress for both clubs.
Last season’s champions St Cuthbert Wanderers will be strong favourites to take the three points from their match against Nithsdale Wanderers at St Mary’s Park while Upper Annandale play hosts to Newton Stewart who will have several new players on show from last season under the leadership of new manager John Kiltie and coach Roddy Cooksley.
Crichton have departed South football and have been replaced by Lochmaben who will play at Lockerbies 3G pitch. However, their first match in South football will be a tough initiation for them with a visit to Trammondford Park to play Wigtown and Bladnoch for a match the home side are expected to take the points from to get their season of to a flying start. There is another full programme of league matches scheduled to be played on Wednesday evening when Creetown entertain Newton Stewart in a local derby that could go either way but as usual will be full of excitement and expectations from both camps.
Edusport Academy have Heston Rovers as their visitors to Galabank for what could be a close encounter while Lochar Thistle entertain St Cuthbert Wanderers at Maxwelltown High School in another contest that could go close.
Mid-Annandale may well be too strong for Dumfries YMCA while the match at Sanquhar between Nithsdale Wanderers and Abbey Vale is another one that could well go close.
There is a new Annandale derby at Moffat where Upper-Annandale play hosts to Lochmaben in another match that will be full of expectations for both clubs but one that Uppers, with home advantage, will be looking to take the points from.
The contest at Trammondford Park could well prove to be one that the result could go either way with Wigtown and Bladnoch playing hosts to Threave Rovers and another one that could well be an indication of how the season will develop for both clubs.
Fixtures for Saturday 30th July, 2016
All kick-offs at 3pm
South of Scotland League
Abbey Vale v Edusport Academy
Creetown v Heston Rovers
Lochar Thistle v Dumfries YMCA
Mid-Annandale v Threave Rovers
St Cuthbert Wanderers v Nithsdale Wanderers
Upper Annandale v Newton Stewart
Wigtown and Bladnoch v Lochmaben
Fixtures for Wednesday 3rd August, 2016
All kick-offs at 7.30pm
South of Scotland League
Creetown v Newton Stewart
Edusport Academy v Heston Rovers
Lochar Thistle v St Cuthbert Wanderers
Mid-Annandale v Dumfries YMCA
Nithsdale Wanderers v Abbey Vale
Upper Annandale v Lochmaben
Wigtown and Bladnoch v Threave Rovers