So far, this season’s Isthmian Premier Division has been another enticing one with a host of teams defying the odds by sitting in the higher echelons of the table. There have been many shocks, an intriguing race for promotion and much more with Hornchurch flying at the top of the table. But how are the Essex teams, Hornchurch, Canvey Island, Aveley, Billericay Town, Bowers & Pitsea and Brightlingsea Regent, getting on in the seventh tier this campaign?
Let’s start with Hornchurch who could reach the Vanarama National League South after failing to get promoted last season despite finishing in the play-offs. In their ranks, the Urchins have former Southend United loanee Kenny Clark and prolific striker Liam Nash who has netted on 12 occasions this season.
Despite a disappointing 4-1 defeat to fellow promotion hopefuls Bishops Stortford on Boxing Day, they had previously been on a run of five games unbeaten before that defeat. Hornchurch have also scored the most goals in the Isthmian Premier Division with 54, showing they certainly have no problems in the final third.
Next up are Aveley who, after promotion last season, are exceeding expectations with the Millers currently in 6th place. Under the leadership of former Concord Rangers manager Danny Scopes, Aveley are looking for back-to-back promotions after promotion from the Isthmian League North Division last campaign.
They have only suffered seven defeats in 25 league outings and their recent win against Corinthian-Casuals put them back on the right track after a winless run. It would be an incredible achievement if the east-Essex based side are to be in-and-around the play-offs but a long season still lies ahead.
Another team that is looking for a second consecutive promotion is Canvey Island. Having beat Brentwood Town in last season’s Isthmian League North Division play-off final, they are another team that have been defying expectations this season. They are currently in the play-off places with 42 points to their name.
Another promising sign is that they have beaten some of the teams that sit near the top of the table including Hornchurch and Potters Bar, underlining that they can compete with the best teams in the division.
Billericay Town had high expectations heading into the campaign after relegation from the National League South last season. Dan Brown’s side are in 10th place and after a tricky start, the Blues seem to be back on the right track. They are unbeaten in five league outings which has included victories over Aveley, Brightlingsea Regent and Potters Bar Town, as well as draws against Bowers & Pitsea and Folkestone Invicta.
Bradley Stevenson has been Billericay’s standout player this season with 13 goals and a similar number of assists. At the time of writing, the Blues are four points off of the play-off places but their squad has the quality to be in contention for promotion.
Two of the Essex sides currently occupy the relegation places in the Isthmian Premier Division – one of them is Bowers & Pitsea. James Collins’ side currently sit in 20th place and they will be looking to escape a relegation battle. Following a surprise 2-0 away win over Canvey Island on Boxing Day, Bowers have been unable to pick up a win in their last three games.
They have only managed to win three league games this campaign with wins over Herne Bay, Aveley and, as mentioned, Canvey Island.
Lastly, the other Essex outfit who are in a relegation battle, Brightlingsea Regent. It has been a disappointing campaign so far for the R’s having only picked up 15 points. In their Boxing Day clash with Billericay they showed some positive signs, despite a 4-1 defeat, but they struggled to find that clinical finishing touch and they were made to rue missed chances.
They have been picking up form lateley which has included a win over promotion-hopefuls Bishop’s Stortford and a draw against Margate. Next up, they face a tough test as they go to Lewes.