Brentwood, 5.06pm: 15°C, clear sky

National League Preview 30 December 2017

With only three days break since the last set of National League fixtures, the top division of non-league is at it again…

Aldershot Town vs Maidstone Utd @12:30

The early kick-off sees 3rd placed Aldershot back in action after breaking their three game winless League streak last time out with a victory over Woking.  The Shots have great home form having picking up 24 of 39 available points and can rely on an attack that has scored 41 in 26 National League games, the joint highest.  Maidstone arrive bottom of the form table over the last six League games, with only three points taken.  It is now six without a win in the division, but there is hope in the fact that The Stones have been better on the road, where they have picked up 57% of their points, and the fact that they managed to pick up a point in the reverse fixture.

Barrow vs Solihull Moors @15:00

A battle in the lower reaches of the table now, but if it’s anything like the 3-3 draw in the reverse we are in for a treat!  Barrow were in deep trouble earlier this season, and certainly aren’t out of the woods yet, but Ady Pennock has got the team firing with 10 points taken from their last six League games including a creditable draw with Wrexham last time out.  However, Holker Street isn’t the stronghold you would think with only 15 points taken from 39 available and only one goal scored in the last three home League games.  Solihull Moors are rock bottom and a massive 12 points from safety.  They really need a run from somewhere to give themselves a chance at survival, and a run of five points from the last six League games is a good start. Conceding only four in that time is also good news for a side who have conceded the most goals in the division (43 in 26 matches).  However, only two scored in those last six, with none in the last three tells the story of a side who have scored the fewest in the National League (21).

Boreham Wood vs Torquay Utd @15:00

Wood were shocked 4-0 at home by Sutton on Boxing Day, bringing to an end their 12 game unbeaten League run.  Boss Luke Garrard will also be concerned about going scoreless in the last two in the League, including a 0-0 draw with lowly Solihull.  23rd placed Torquay visit looking to avenge a 4-2 defeat in the reverse fixture and are on a run of picking up nine points in the last six League matches.  However, they still remain nine points from safety after an awful start to the season, and only have two away League wins, albeit only two fewer points than at home.

Chester vs Hartlepool Utd @15:00

Chester are in serious trouble.  22nd with back-to-back League defeats conceding six and scoring none is bad enough, but add to that the fact that the last defeat came against relegation rivals Guiseley, allowing them to leapfrog you, makes it even worse.  If Marcus Bignot didn’t already know the size of the task on his hands, he does now, with only former side Solihull having conceded more and scored fewer in the division.  If ever there was a chance to take some points, this might be it – Hartlepool are gradually being sucked towards the drop zone with only Maidstone and Guiseley having worse League form over the last six matches.  The Pools did at least stop the rot on Boxing Day, a 2-2 draw with Gateshead stopping a run of four League losses in a row.

Dover Athletic vs FC Halifax Town @15:00

Leading the pack not all that long ago, a run of six points from the last six League games has seen Dover drop to 5th, only four clear of Boreham Wood in 8th with The Wood having a game in hand.  That said, The Whites are four without a National League defeat, but will need to convert more of their draws into wins to have any chance of lifting themselves to their previous heights.  Halifax’s recent good run took a step back against leaders Macclesfield on Tuesday, and The Shaymen haven’t had a good season away from home, only picking up three League wins from 13 matches, but they will be buoyed by leaving Aldershot with all three points in the last League away game.

Eastleigh vs Woking @15:00

The Spitfires are undefeated since a restructure saw Richard Hill move upstairs with Andy Hessenthaler taking his seat in the dugout.  However, both will no doubt be disappointed with a 1-1 draw at home with Torquay on Boxing Day.  Their recent run has been good with only one defeat in the last six League matches, that coming against 2nd placed Sutton.  Woking are struggling, three League losses in a row, with only five points picked up from the last 18 available sees them in 13th, with only 10 points picked up from their 12 away games in the division.  However, The Cards can take solace from the fact they won the reverse fixture 2-1.

Ebbsfleet Utd vs Dagenham & Redbridge @15:00

The Fleet are one of the National League’s form teams, undefeated in four League games with three wins.  As a result, they find themselves 9th, two points off the playoffs, and are formidable at Stonebridge Road taking 25 points from a possible 39 and winning the last five in all competitions.  Dagenham, on the other hand, have stumbled of late with three consecutive losses in all competitions, dropping to 7th, only a point clear of Boreham Wood.  The Daggers have also had trouble on the road, with only three away League wins, but two of those have come in the last three on the road.  3-3 was the score earlier in the season.

Gateshead vs Wrexham @15:00

The Heed have three League draws on the bounce, but are now four without a win in the division.  They have struggled against the teams around them with draws with Solihull, Torquay and Hartlepool and a loss to Barrow, so might be glad to face a team in the top half, following wins against Tranmere and Maidenhead.  Wrexham have dropped to 4th after a run of three without a League win.  Scoring has also been a problem for Dean Keates’ side with 24 in 26 League games, only the bottom four having scored fewer, but equally no team has conceded less than their 19 (Dover sit level).

Leyton Orient vs Bromley @15:00

Justin Edinburgh is working his magic at The Os, with three consecutive League wins (all against teams in the top half), four in all competitions and back-to-back clean sheets.  Orient were hurt by a 6-1 demolishing at Bromley earlier in the season, and will have high hopes against a team five without a League win.  As a result, The Ravens have dropped to 10th, but have the firepower to scare a previously brittle Orient back line, scoring 41 in 26 League matches, exactly the same record as the hosts have for conceding.

Macclesfield Town vs Sutton Utd @15:00

The one to watch on Saturday, top of the table Macclesfield host 2nd placed Sutton.  The Macc are three points clear of the visitors and are eight undefeated in the League.  However, they are stronger away than at home with 54% of their points picked up on the road, exactly the same figure as visitors Sutton.  The Ambers can also look to a 2-1 win in the reverse fixture, and will have hopes of going top with victory after getting back to winning ways with a 4-0 result on Boxing Day against in form Boreham Wood.

Maidenhead Utd vs AFC Fylde @15:00

11th placed Maidenhead will be hoping to do the double over Fylde after beating them 4-1 and will be confident after back-to-back League wins made it three without loss in the division, with only one conceded in that time.  The Magpies now only sit three points outside the playoffs, but with Dagenham having played a game fewer.  Opponents Fylde could be that high if they won their 2/3 games in hand on most in the division, but arrive 19th with three without a League win, having had a difficult run of fixtures (the last four League games have come against the top 9).

Tranmere Rovers vs Guiseley @15:00

The form team in the division, Tranmere have picked up 13 points from their last six National League matches, with a goal difference of +11.  They have four League wins in a row, scoring 14, conceding only two and picked up a draw against table toppers Macclesfield late last month.  As a result Rovers, are 6th, eight points off the summit with a game in hand.  Prenton Park has been a fortress with 26 points picked up from a possible 39 and defence has been the bedrock of their National League campaign with only Wrexham and Dover conceding fewer than Rover’s 20 in 25.  This isn’t the news that visitors Guiseley are looking for with only Solihull having scored fewer than their 22 in 24 League games.  The Lions have also struggled defensively, conceding 41 in that time and have struggled on the road with seven League losses from 12.  However, things are looking up with a Boxing Day victory against fellow strugglers Chester following a creditable point against Aldershot, seeing Guiseley up to 21st, eight points from safety with two games in hand on 20th placed Barrow.  The Lions will also want to remind their opponents of a 0-0 draw earlier in the season.



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