The season must be extended, says Longwell Green Sports manager Spencer Thomas
LONGWELL Green Sports manager Spencer Thomas has welcomed attempts to extend the Toolstation Western League season.
The campaign is scheduled to finish at the end of April, but league officials have contacted the Football Association to ask permission to play into May.
Their unusual request is a direct response to the cold and wet weather that has gripped the region since early December and caused dozens of games to be postponed.
Most clubs are already faced with having to play three times a week between now and the end of the season and further problems in February could cause any backlog to become untenable.
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Premier Division Longwell Green have only played 17 times in the league this season and still have 21 fixtures to negotiate.
Thomas said: "The league has to try to do something, because we are already having to play Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday most weeks.
"If it is this bad in February, then we will have a huge problem. If the FA allow the league to extend the season by a week or two, it will help take some of the pressure off."
Weather permitting, Sports will attempt to play their first Premier Division game of 2013 when they travel to Ilfracombe tomorrow.
Bristol Manor Farm boss John Black has ended his long search for a centre-back to replace the injured Aaron Jones by signing Sam Bailey from Bishop Sutton.
And in one of those peculiar sporting ironies, the defender will make his debut against his former team-mates at The Creek this weekend.
Sutton manager Lee Lashenko said: "It will give the game an extra edge. On his day, Sam is one of the best players in this league and he has helped put us where we are now. He has nothing to prove to us."
Second in the table, Sutton have beaten title rivals Brislington and Cadbury Heath in their last two outings and Manor Farm boss Black said: "This will be a good test for our young team."
Cadbury Heath manager Andy Black will ring the changes as his side bid to bounce back from defeat to Sutton against basement club Barnstaple at Springfield.
He said: "Our second-half display was poor and it is probably time for a few changes. I need to shake things up a bit and give an opportunity to some of those lads who have been on the bench."
Leaders Brislington have been boosted by the return of Jack Dempsey, who is back at Ironmould Lane after a spell with Winterbourne United.
The midfielder goes straight into the squad for the home game against Wells City and manager Jeff Meacham hopes to recruit a central defender before kick-off.
But left-back Dave Peters will be absent for the next month and Mark Knapman is tipped to take over.
Winterbourne make the short trip to Hallen and delay naming their starting XI pending a fitness check on striker Jack Pitcher.
Back to earth following last weekend's FA Vase exit, Bitton are hoping to bounce back from defeat to Shildon when they host Willand Rovers.
Hengrove Athletic will go a long way towards securing promotion if they overcome First Division title rivals Shepton Mallet at home.
Top of the table and ten points clear of the third-placed team, Hengrove are in a strong position.
Manager Jamie Hillman told The Post: "I said at the start of the season, any side finishing above Shepton Mallet would be promoted and things are looking good at the moment.
"They probably have the best squad in the league, have more resources than us and can be expected to come on strong towards the end of the season."
Oldland Abbotonians must shed their habit of pressing the self-destruct button, according to frustrated manager Paul Britton.
Having seen his side miss a host of chances and surrender a two-goal lead last time out, he is demanding an improved performance against promotion-chasing Chard.
He said: "This is a young team, but I cannot keep using that as an excuse. They have to start taking responsibility on the pitch. Our inability to take our chances has been our Achilles heel all season and is holding us back."
Roman Glass St George have played only once since the turn of the year and joint manager Roger Hudd insisted his players are "champing at the bit" at the prospect of a return to action at Devizes.
He said: "It feels a bit like starting the season all over again and the lads cannot wait to get back out there and play football."
Keynsham Town have been similarly affected by the elements, but remain confident they will be able to stage their home game against Wellington on the all-weather surface at Crown Field.
Manager Steve Cains selects from an unchanged squad.