the real fa cup

Ryman Tear Up

After last night’s games and with a few days left of the season, the Ryman Premier League is getting a bit giddy. It’s good for us, especially, as we’ve seen and/or grown fond of a number of the clubs in this league through our FA Cup travails.

Assuming there are going to be two teams relegated, which might change depending on FA tinkering elsewhere in the pyramid, there is one place left to be filled and three teams with their spades out trying to fill the hole before they fall into it. At the other end, Dartford’s Darts have already hit bull and Sutton have secured a play off place, while only an unlikely set of results can stop Kingstonian doing the same. But, there are no fewer than five teams fighting for the two remaining places, six if the unlikely set of results occurs. Very unlikely.

So, what’s the deal? Well …

18. Maidstone United P40 – 45 (-19)
19. Ashford Town (Middlesex) P41 – 44 (-14)
20. Margate P41 – 42 (-23)
21. Bognor Regis Town P40 – 41 (-17)
22. Waltham Abbey P41 – 41 (-26)

Waltham Abbey are already down, despite last night’s stirring 4-1 victory over Bognor, which was a shot in the arm for Margate. On Thursday Bognor visit Maidstone and if the home side win then Margate’s destiny is in their own hands. If Bognor win then Maidstone can still go down. Win or lose on Thursday, the problem for Bognor, as well as being owed several hundred quid by Premier Lge money pit, Pompey, is that their final game is against the runaway Champions. The problem for Margate is that they are playing Hastings who, regardless of Thursday’s results at the other end of the table, are still very much in the hunt for a play-off place.

The other team who come into the equation are Ashford Town (Mx). They do have the good fortune to be up against a Harrow Borough team who are effectively on their mid table summer holidays and even if Bognor lose to Maidstone then they are really just an exhibition match point from virtual safety.

At the top the permutations are, frankly, baffling and Thursday’s fixtures might not even give clarity.

1. Dartford P40 – 87 (53)
2. Sutton United P41 – 72 (19)
3. Kingstonian P41 – 67 (4)
4. Boreham Wood P41 – 65 (9)
5. Aveley P40 – 64 (17)
6. Hastings United P41 – 63 (13)
7. Tonbridge Angels P40 – 62 (5)
8. Wealdstone P41 – 62 (2)
9. AFC Hornchurch P41 – 61 (5)

Borehamwood and Aveley are in pole position for the final two spots at the moment but two games on Thursday night could confirm or change that. Aveley are away at Horsham and the Angels away at Wealdstone, the latter game is pretty much make or break for both sides. If Aveley win and Tonbridge and Wealdstone share the spoils then Kingstonian and Aveley are in the pay offs. The final spot then becomes Borehamwood’s to lose and leaves Hastings, Tonbridge and Wealdstone hoping they slip up.

If Aveley draw at Horsham tomorrow night that probably doesn’t change things much but if they lose that will let the winners, if there is a winner, of Wealdstone v Tonbridge through the gate. In that event either one would be a point ahead of Aveley meaning that the final spot would be theirs to lose. If whichever team wins on Thursday night also wins on the final day then there will be nothing Aveley can do about it. If Tonbridge beat Wealdstone on the other hand, Wealdstone are almost out of it because they are 7 goals worse off than Borehamwood and at least 4 worse than Tonbridge, even if the Stones do win their final game.

So, permutations galore but the bottom line is that, on Thursday, there are two MASSIVE RPL games. Only Wealdstone can kiss goodbye to their play-off hopes with defeat and only Aveley can seal theirs with victory but if Aveley and Borehamwood win their remaining games then no one can catch them. Whatever the outcome, the final day of the Ryman Premier League is going to be a corker.

Based purely on our previous enjoyable encounters with clubs in the RPL, we’d like to wish Ashford and Margate good luck in avoiding the dreaded drop. We’d also like to wish Sutton good luck in the play offs and Hastings and Wealdstone good luck in getting into them, although in reality we realise it’s unlikely to be both! But, regardless, who ever gets there, they will have deserved it … just about! Who we’re going to be supporting if they all get there is a different matter. We’ll cross that bridge …

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