Southampton may have lost 2-0 to Tranmere Rovers at the weekend, but along with many local clubs the Saints still have many reasons to be cheerful. Despite their defeat the Saints remain contenders for an automatic return to the championship as the football season crosses the mid-way point. In an unprecedented scenario the Saints must edge out Bournemouth and Brighton in what promises to be a thrilling tussle between the three south coast clubs, who at one time were separated by the full breadth of the football league. Other reasons for the smiles down at St Marys have been the performances of 17 year old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. A move to Arsenal now seems certain, but for a brief time his crowd pleasing flair evoking memories of Theo Walcott and Matt Le Tissier acted as a reminder of better times and the promise of their return.
Just north of the city Conference South side Eastleigh have finally hit their stride. A 3-0 dispatch of a Dorchester including a wonder goal by Richard Graham, another skilful winger who is fast becoming a crowd favourite, marking 10 games unbeaten for Ian Baird’s side a run which has seen the club moving to within touching distance of the play-off spot Baird publically stated early on was his expectation for the season. Securing a club-best slot in the last 16 of the F.A Trophy along the way has only added to the excitement at the Silverlake Stadium.
Meanwhile something of a local derby was taking place as Sholing FC in their first season since changing their name from VTFC, a name synonymous with the Vosper Thornycroft Shipyard formerly in Woolston, travelled the short distance over the river Test to take on AFC Totton. Both sides fell short in the first set of promotion play-offs last season and will be hoping to do better this time round. Sholing arrived and left as Zameretto South and West league leaders, but it was Totton who claimed a 2-1 victory; the gap between the two sides narrowed to only four points with third placed Totton also possessing a game in hand.
The prospects for local sides have rarely appeared so healthy. With so many local sides in the hunt for silverware the stage is now set for increasing drama and thrilling finales as the season progresses toward its denouement. Don’t miss out on the action get yourself along to a game this weekend.