Brentwood, 12.32pm: 9°C, light rain

National League Preview 1 January 2018

A new year, but some old scores to settle as the National League teams play their Boxing Day foes again…

Woking vs Aldershot Town @13:00

Woking stopped a run of three consecutive League losses with a draw with Eastleigh on Saturday.  However, it is still four without a League win, with only one win in the last 10 National League matches for the team in 13th.  Home is where the heart is for The Cards, however, with 21 points claimed from 36 available and 62% of their total points coming at Kingfield. Aldershot arrive in 2nd, six points off top spot, having escaped with a point against Maidstone in Saturday’s early game.  It is only one win in their last five, eminently winnable, League matches, that coming against the hosts.  The Shots are dangerous going forward, being joint top scorers in the division.

AFC Fylde vs Tranmere Rovers @15:00

Fylde came from behind to win at Maidenhead on Saturday, their first League win in four.  The Coasters are still playing catch-up with two to three games on some, so perhaps their position in 15th is a little false, especially with them sitting only 10 points off the playoffs.  They face a big challenge though, as Tranmere, a side they lost 4-1 to on Boxing Day, visit, with the hosts only winning three times at Mill Farm in the League.  The visitors have won the last five in the League, scoring 18, conceding only two, with only Wrexham and Dover having conceded fewer than their 20 in 26 National League games.

Dagenham & Redbridge vs Leyton Orient @15:00

A run of three League games without a win has seen The Daggers fall out of the playoff places into 8th, and they will feel lucky to have got anything out of a last ditch draw with Ebbsfleet on Saturday.  John Still’s side are strong at home with eight wins and a draw from 12 League games, but he will be concerned about scoring only two in the last three National League matches, having had great scoring touch previously.  Orient had their run of four consecutive wins in all competitions ended by Bromley on Saturday and will be keen to do the League double over neighbours Dagenham having beaten them 2-0 on Boxing Day.  In fact, The O’s have played John Still’s side three times this term, with two wins and a draw, and no goals conceded.  However, Justin Edinburgh will be keen to improve a poor record of only three away League wins from 13.

FC Halifax Town vs Macclesfield Town @15:00

A big challenge awaits 14th placed Halifax.  The Shaymen have seen their last six League matches split two wins, two draws, two losses, with one of the defeats coming 2-1 against visitors Macclesfield. The hosts have only conceded one goal in the last four National League matches including a clean sheet against free scoring Aldershot, so will have some confidence about keeping out the league leaders.  Macclesfield are six points clear at the top following Saturday’s win against second placed Sutton, extending their record to nine undefeated in the League, with only 25 goals conceded in 27 National League matches.

Guiseley vs Chester @15:00

Crushed by Tranmere on Saturday, Guiseley will be hope to kick on in 2018 and start by doing the double over relegation rivals Chester.  The Lions have conceded the most goals in the League (45 in 25 games) and scored the fewest, level with visitors Chester on 22.  However, the hosts are only eight points off Barrow in 20th with two games in hand, the same as their opponents.  Chester have had some extra rest as their game against Hartlepool on Saturday was postponed.  Marcus Bignot’s side have suffered two League losses in a row, both without scoring, and have only scored one in their last four in the division.  The Blues have also only won once away in the League all season and have conceded 42 in 25 League matches.  With stats like these, anything could happen here!

Hartlepool Utd vs Gateshead @15:00

Neither of these sides were in action on Saturday, both having had their games postponed.  Hartlepool arrive five without a League win, the draw with the visitors last time out ending a run of four National League losses in a row. The Pool’s defence has been leaky, conceding 13 in the last five League games. Gateshead sit a place and a point behind the hosts in 17th and are four without a League win, following three consecutive draws.  Form on the road has also been a problem, with only two away wins in the division.

Maidstone Utd vs Dover Athletic @15:00

It was 2-2 when these sides met on Boxing Day, a surprise given Maidstone’s recent form, and The Stones nearly sprung an even bigger one in Saturday’s early kickoff, as they were denied all three points in added time against Aldershot.  Still, it means that Maidstone have collected only four points from the last 21 available and they struggle at the Gallagher Stadium with only three League wins.  Three League draws in a row for visitors Dover, coupled with only one League win in eight, sees The Whites down in 4th, seven points off top spot.  They can, however, lean on a stingy defence, conceding a League low 19 in 27 matches.

Solihull Moors vs Maidenhead Utd @15:00

Solihull may still be bottom of the League, but things are looking up.  They are now level on points with Torquay and nine off safety after a 2-1 win at Barrow.  In fact The Moors have actually won two of the last five League games, and only conceded three in that time.  They also broke a run of three without a National League goal on Saturday.  That all means that Solihull are no longer lowest scorers or the leakiest defence in the League!  Visitors Maidenhead will be hoping to do the double having won 1-0 on Boxing Day, and keen to get over their first League loss in four at the hands of Fylde.

Sutton Utd vs Boreham Wood @15:00

Losing Saturday’s massive top of the table clash saw Sutton end the day in 3rd, six points off top spot.  In fact, The Ambers have suffered three losses in their last four League games and need to improve with 8th placed Dagenham only four points behind with a game in hand.  Opponents Boreham Wood sit 7th, a point ahead of The Daggers, and got back to winning ways as victory against Torquay on Saturday ended a run of two National League games without victory and without scoring.  The Wood will be keen to avenge a 4-0 humiliation by the hosts on Boxing Day, especially as it was their only loss in 14 League games.  The visitors have only four away League wins from 12, but equally have only lost twice.

Torquay Utd vs Eastleigh @15:00

Torquay are 23rd, level on points with bottom placed Solihull after Saturday’s loss to Boreham Wood made it five without a League win, with only two goals scored in that time.  That is perhaps no surprise with only 23 scored in 27 League matches, and Gary Owers will be keen to fix that and The Gulls home form which has seen them win over two in the League from 13.  Visitors Eastleigh are undefeated in the division since Richard Hill moved upstairs and Andy Hessenthaler took his seat in the dugout, with the run at four.  However, there have been three draws in that time, including against the hosts.

Wrexham vs Barrow @15:00

Wrexham weren’t in action on Saturday after their game at Gateshead was postponed, so may be fresher than their opponents.  The Dragons have dropped to 5th after three without a League win, but are still only seven off top spot with a game in hand.  Their home form has been imperious, with seven wins, five draws and only one loss in the National League, and they have conceded a League low 19 goals alongside Dover.  However, goalscoring has been a problem with only 24 scored in their 26 League games, only the bottom four have scored fewer.  Barrow lost to Solihull on Saturday to make it two without a League win for a side improving under Ady Pennock.  They have had more away League wins than at home (four vs three at Holker Street) and will want to build on a creditable draw with the hosts.

Bromley vs Ebbsfleet Utd @19:45

A win against Leyton Orient on Saturday halted a run of five without a League win for a Bromley side who have dropped to 9th.  That run included a 2-1 loss to the visitors on Boxing Day, but The Ravens are still in a good position, sitting a point off the last playoff place, albeit Boreham Wood have a game in hand.  Bromley are the top scorers in the division alongside Aldershot with 42 in 27.  Five without a League loss sees The Fleet in 10th, a place and two points off their opponents, so they will be a touch disappointed to be denied all three points late on against Dagenham.  They have only conceded three in the last five National League games, scoring 11, but have won only two away League games all season, although they have picked up seven draws.


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