PICTURE: FC Baylis United won the East Berkshire League Presidents Cup last season and have built on that promise to lead Division One at the Christmas Break, five points clear of the chasing pack.
The battle for the Division One title and promotion into the top flight is guaranteed to be both an open and intense affair in the New Year.
FC Baylis United are top of the division at Christmas and five points clear but, they have played as many as five games more than the chasing pack.
With the top three teams all earning promotion into the Premier Division at the end of the season and, with just three points currently separating second from seventh, half of the league still harbour strong hopes for being a part of the top division for the 2024-25 campaign.
Baylis are the current E.B.F.L President Cup holders and have built on that success to set a strong pace this Autumn, winning eight of their 14 league matches and scoring an impressive 53 goals in the process.
Their season started in a good fashion, thrashing Old Windsor Reserves and holding talented newcomers South Reading in a high-scoring draw. Baylis have already done the double over AFC Reading this season and signed off for Christmas with a 3-1 win at Cressex. The visitors had to recover from falling behind at Holmers Farm Recreation Ground when Kevin McMahon gave Cressex a lead midway through the first half. Baylis turned it around in the second period however, and both Ibrahim Sajid and Saleh Saleh were among the goals scorers as they took a valuable three points back to Langley.
The league leaders have shown some vulnerability in defeats to both Sandhurst Town Royals and Old Windsor Reserves, both of whom have six points to find but five matches to put the points on the board.
If Baylis are to keep on winning and hold the chasing pack at bay then goals from both Usman Javid and Ibrahim Sajid will be crucial, the pair having scored 12 and 10 goals in 14 appearances respectively.
PICTURE: South Reading have made an impressive start to life in the East Berkshire Football League and currently stand in second position in Division One - as well as reaching the Semi Finals in both the E.B.F.L Presidents Cup and Berks & Bucks F.A. David Grange Junior Trophy.
South Reading might be a narrow favourites with the bookmakers following an impressive start in their debut season with the E.B.F.L. The team has checked out seven wins in nine league matches including success over promotion rivals AFC Reading, Old Windsor Reserves and KS Gryf. Louie Soares has been firing the newcomers to success in the Autumn months, bagging 11 goals in eight appearances.
One factor that might work against South Reading in the New Year is their own thirst for success - as well as being a strong fancy in the title race, the team remains in all the Cup competitions they entered at the start of the season including a Semi Final in the Berks & Bucks David Grange Trophy. Expect South Reading to be busy and play a lot of football in 2024!
Cressex finished in third position last season and head into the Winter break in the same place, five points behind Baylis but having played four games fewer. The team missed the chance to move to the top of the table when losing to Baylis last weekend but, they had won all of their previous six league matches. Wins over Sandhurst Royals and AFC Reading were a part of that winning streak but, Cressex will face tougher challenges in the New Year with seven fixtures against promotion rivals still to come.
PICTURE: The East Berkshire League Division One table with FC Baylis United clear at the top but just three points separating second and seventh places.
Sandhurst Town Royals and Old Windsor Reserves stand in fourth and fifth positions respectively and with an almost identical record in the league, both have accumulated 21 points from nine matches. The Os can boast the current top goals scorer in the division - Sean Blandford has an exceptional record of 16 goals in just 12 appearances. The two sides will meet for the first time this season on Saturday 3rd February.
AFC Reading are one point further behind in sixth position but, have played more matches than four of the five teams above them in the table which could go against them when fighting for a promotion place in the New Year. Their record against the top sides is not great either, losing in all five games against sides currently above them, including twice to Baylis.
KS Gryf were relegated from the Premier Division last season and, despite standing in only seventh place in Division One, the team is only three points outside the promotion places. Emmanuel Adjei has been one of the star performers for Gryf with 12 goals in as many appearances. Games at home to both Baylis and South Reading early on in the New Year could be crucial to their chances of a quick return to the Premier Division.
Key matches in January 2024
Saturday 6 January - Cressex v South Reading
Saturday 27 January - KS Gryf v FC Baylis United
Saturday 3 February - KS Gryf v South Reading and Sandhurst Royals v Old Windsor Reserves
To enter the East Berkshire Football League ahead of the 2024/25 season, or for further information about the league, or an entry form for the upcoming season, please email the team at email@example.com