Two Counties Championship fixtures released
The Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship have released their provisional fixture list for the first half of 2020, for Divisions One to Seven.
The new season is set to begin on Saturday, April 18 with two new clubs in the top flight in newly promoted Braintree and East Bergholt, while Lakenheath and Ipswich have been relegated to Division Two.
Witham – last season's Division One champions – lost to Sawston & Babraham in the East Anglian Premier League play-offs and will remain in the Two Counties Championship.
Third-placed Hadleigh will look to build on their strong standing last season with their league campaign opener at home to Braintree while eighth-placed Haverhill will have an even tougher task at home to last season's runners-up in Wivenhoe Town.
Woolpit, who suffered their lowest finish in the division since at least 2011 with 10th in 2019, will hope to get off to a strong start at home to Halstead, who finished a place above them this summer.
Finally, last season's sixth placed Worlington will be keen to demonstrate their Division One status as they are set to host division newcomer East Bergholt.
They will start their campaign with back-to-back home games, hosting Haverhill the following Saturday.
Hadleigh will also host Coggeshall Town in their second league fixture of 2020, in successive home games.
Halstead will be away to Maldon and Woolpit will be away to Mistley.
Hadleigh will host the first of the Halstead derby on May 9, with Woolpit set to host Worlington in another derby encounter on the same day.
Meanwhile in Division Two, newly promoted Bury St Edmunds II are not in action on the first weekend, with their first fixture set to be Saturday, April 25 away to Ipswich – a tough first game with their hosts in their first fixture since relegation from Division One.
But last season's fourth-placed finisher Mildenhall II are in action on the first weekend, at home to eighth-placed Kelvedon and Feering.
They are then away to Elmstead the following weekend.
The first of the Bury II - Mildenhall II derby will be on May 9, with Bury playing host at The Victory Ground.
The league website also warned that: "I also give a brief explanation as to why a complete round of fixtures is no longer repeated in the second half of the season.
"Where possible, double headers will be played. So, starting in Division Two, where teams meet in the East Anglian Premier League, their 2nd XI’s meet now meet on the same day, and this then carries on down through divisions where clubs meet at different levels. There will be one or two exceptions.
"Division Five was somewhat more of a challenge, with many of the participants submitting dates they cannot play on or cannot play home matches on due to their grounds still be used for football. All these clubs now seem to be playing in the same division.
"An astonishing number of requests were submitted, and next season it is very possible that clubs with such 'extreme' demands in some cases, will have to re-arrange the fixtures that fall on such dates themselves."
Meanwhile Halstead III and Ipswich & East Suffolk II reapplied for admission to the league and were accepted, after numerous concessions in 2019 deemed it necessary. Kelvedon & Feering II did not re-apply.
Four additional teams will join Division Nine; Melton St. Audrys II, Mildenhall V, Stowupland II and Woodbridge II.
BT Waldringfield were elected to the League, but will probably have to play some of their home matches on other grounds, as their facilities are not up to the standard felt adequate.
The Committee will also regionalise Division Eight into two sections while also restructuring Division Nine into two, and not three as current, regions.
In addition to the three teams promoted from Division Nine by right – Woodbridge, Eight Ash Green II, and Lakenheath II – the ten clubs that finished the Division Nine seasons with the most points will be added to Division Eight.
The remaining 19 teams will then form the two Division Nines.
It was also reported that the Ladies 35 over Championship will now fall under the auspicies of the East Anglian Premier League, but the T20s will remain in the Two Counties Championship.
For the full fixture list, click here
More by this authorHannah Dolman