Charles Hague-Jones previews the Meadowmen’s first West Midland Regional League game of the 2020/21 campaign
25 September 2020
Our first game of the WMRL campaign sees Worcester Raiders travel to the Crown Meadow. The Raiders finished the cut short 2019/20 season in 11th place, two places and two points above AFC Bridgnorth. Raiders were promoted to the Premier Division as champions of Division 1, following the 2018/19 campaign where they only lost two games all season, racking up 79 points.
So far, AFC Bridgnorth have prevailed in a penalty shootout in the FA Vase. As for Saturday’s visitors, they in fact suffered the complete opposite, missing out in FA Vase progression, as they crashed out after a penalty shootout loss against Coventry Sphinx.
In terms of fixtures so far this season, this will be the third different competition that the Meadowmen have featured in alongside the FA Cup and the FA Vase. As for the visitors, this will be only their second competitive game of the season. Raiders endured a tough pre-season to set them up for the start of the league campaign, including a loss against National League side Leamington FC.
Joint manager Chris Cornes was really proud of the attitude his side showed against opposition, four levels higher than them. I think with the tough tests of pre-season, Raiders will certainly not be waiting around. Expect a sharp start into the game and the press will be from minute one at the Crown Meadow.
The FA Vase loss away at Coventry Sphinx would have been tough for the Raiders to take and they will be certainly ready for a fresh start in the league this season. The preparations that have been done leading up to the league opener on Saturday have looked second to none so Ward and his men have got to be ready for a tough test. It will be clear that the ambitions for the Raiders are to progress heavily on last season’s 11th place finish.
Off season changes
Worcester Raiders have taken on the huge responsibility of upgrading their social media from top to bottom. With a full flowing YouTube channel and the addition of match highlights, interviews and being able to play home games at the Sixways Stadium in Worcester, it’s clear they are looking for upgrades all around the club and rely indefinitely on how the players perform on the pitch.
Raiders broke the news that Chris Cornes would act as a joint managerial partner to Karl Gormley for the 2020/21 season. Former player Cornes, took up the role as assistant manager in 2018/19 after hanging up his boots. Along with Karl, they took Raiders to the Division 1 league win, which is how they got to the Premier Division where they look to do somewhat better than their first season here in 2019/20.
One to watch
My one to watch would be last season’s top goal scorer, Ryan Rowe. The striker only made 14 appearances for the Raiders, scoring 8 goals in the process. If he can latch onto the balls played in from wide areas on Saturday, he will 9 times out of 10 put the ball in the net. That’s if he can beat Chris Crook in the home goal.
The two sides met in the second league game of the 2019/20 campaign, with Raiders coming out on top in a 2-1 victory at the Crown Meadow. The half time score read 0-1 as Roland Krol put the away side a goal to the good. Liam Bood managed an equaliser for the Meadowmen but a winner was scored by Matt Andrews to send the Raiders back home with three points, adding to a solid start to their season.
When the sides last met, it was at Worcester’s’ Nunnery Wood sports complex. Krol hadn’t had his last laugh against Bridgnorth as he scored 4 goals, to add to his one against Bridgnorth earlier on in the season. The game ended with Raiders the resounding winners as they overcame the Meadowmen to win 5-1 on the day.
After both sides completing good tests in pre-season and the Meadowmen making a solid start to life under Graham Ward and co, I think this sets the game up to be a great contest for the neutrals. Both sides will be looking to play fast, expansive football and I think the result will sway towards whichever side can take the most of their chances.
Live updates of the game will be available @AFCBridgnorth during Saturday’s league opener.
Updated COVID-19 guidelines are also found on the clubs’ social media pages. Please enjoy the game and stay safe.