Southern League to resume but fixture backlog causes concern for Joyce and Edwards

Bideford manager Sean Joyce and Barnstaple Town manager Dean Edwards. Pictures: Matt Smart

Bideford manager Sean Joyce and Barnstaple Town manager Dean Edwards. Pictures: Matt Smart - Credit: Matt Smart

Doubt has been cast on whether the Southern League season will finish in its current format, despite confirmation of the season’s resumption.

Bideford manager Sean Joyce. Picture: Matt Smart

Bideford manager Sean Joyce. Picture: Matt Smart - Credit: Matt Smart

Barnstaple Town and Bideford are set to return to action in the Pitching In Southern League on December 12.

The Division One South campaign will resume with the fixtures already pencilled in, with Barnstaple Town hosting Cirencester Town and Bideford travelling to Highworth Town.

As things stand the season is still scheduled to finish on Saturday, May 8, with play-offs taking place in the following week.

Bideford’s Buildbase FA Trophy first round tie against Evesham United will take place before the league campaign resumes.

Barnstaple Town manager Dean Edwards. Picture: Matt Smart

Barnstaple Town manager Dean Edwards. Picture: Matt Smart - Credit: Matt Smart


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The Robins will travel to Evesham on Saturday, December 5, after the FA said clubs could play ties before the official date of December 8.

Should Bideford beat Evesham, the second round will take place on Tuesday, December 15.

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It looks set to be a gruelling season for both clubs, who have played just six league games heading into December.

With 32 league fixtures to play before May 8, neither Bideford manager Sean Joyce or Barum manager Dean Edwards can see how the season will finish.

Joyce said: “We’ve played six games so far and I just don’t see how you can finish it, because we will still lose games to the weather and we will lose games with Covid.

“They would be better off splitting the league into two leagues of 10, with the two winners going up.

“It’s the only way I think you could do it – 18 games home and away, which means you can still play it all.

“Do I think we are going to get 32 games in? I can’t see it myself, but we’ll take it one game at a time.”

Edwards has spent the lockdown bolstering his squad, bringing in former Bideford defender Chris McGraph, George Swain and striker Theo Simpson, who spent time at Barum last season.

Edwards said: “It’s going to be very difficult, especially for the likes of us and Bideford because of our geography.

“With that many games on a pitch in a short space of time they’ll get broken up. We will have the weather at some stage and it will create more confusion.

“I don’t understand why they don’t put it off until Christmas and introduce a mini-league, or just sack it off. I think it will cause massive problems.”

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