Brentwood, 5.05pm: 15°C, clear sky

National League Preview 6 January 2018

No doubt feeling rested after four whole days without a match, The National League clubs are back in action…

Barrow vs Tranmere Rovers @15:00

Barrow are now three without a League win, including a damaging loss to Solihull at Holker Street last weekend.  It finds The Bluebirds 20th, seven clear of the drop zone, but fans can look to creditable draws with 5th placed Wrexham in that three game run.  The loss at home to Solihull is endemic of Barrow’s form at Holker Street with only three League wins from 14 there. Tranmere arrive following a shock 5-2 loss away to Fylde on New Years Day.  That results ended a run of five League wins in a row (conceding only two in that time), but it is perhaps no surprise that Rovers failed to take all three points, with only three away League wins from 13.  Despite shipping five goals to The Coasters, Tranmere have only conceded only 25 from 27 League matches.

Bromley vs AFC Fylde @15:00

Bromley are 6th, having had two League wins on the bounce, ending a run of five without a win in the division.  They are now on their own as the League’s top goalscorers with 46 in 28, but obviously want more with Omar Bugiel joining on loan until the end of the season. Tranmere’s conquerors Fylde have also won two on the trot in the League, scoring seven and conceding three.  Even though they arrive in 13th, they are only eight points off Tranmere in 7th, with two games in hand.

Dagenham & Redbridge vs Hartlepool Utd @15:00

It is now four without a National League win for 9th placed Daggers, and only two goals scored in that time for a side which was previously lethal in front of goal.  However, they have made Victoria Road a fortress this season, winning eight of their 13 League games, although a loss and a draw has come in the last two.  Hartlepool may have been in League Two last season, but they are too close to the National League drop zone for comfort now, sitting 10 points clear with a game in hand. Two consecutive 2-2 draws with Gateshead have stopped a run of League losses, but it is still six without a win, conceding a massive 15 in that time.  Only six goals scored in the same period is about right for a side who have scored only 29 in 27 National League matches.

Dover Athletic vs Aldershot Town @15:00

Dover have now had four League draws in a row, meaning The Whites have fallen nine points off top spot down in 4th.  They may be six undefeated in the division, but five of those being draws tells you all about Dover’s problems at the moment.  Still, they have conceded the fewest League goals with 21 in 28, so they are hard to beat. The Shots arrive in 2nd place, four undefeated in the division, with two wins against rivals Woking, but disappointing draws with Guiseley and Maidstone.  They sit six points off top spot and can rely on an attack that has scored 44 in 28 League games, only Bromley have scored more.

Eastleigh vs Guiseley @15:00

The Spitfires have not tasted defeat in their last four League games, but have drawn three times in that spell.  They sit 18th, eight clear of the drop zone with a game in hand on Solihull in 21st.  The theme of one too many draws of late is typical of their home League record of three wins, three losses and eight draws. Visitors Guiseley are 23rd, nine points off the hosts with a game in hand.  They have taken five points from their last four matches, including four off relegation rivals Chester and a creditable point against Aldershot.  However, The Lions have only gained nine points from a possible 39 away and have conceded the most League goals (46 in 26), scoring the joint lowest alongside Chester and Torquay (23).

Ebbsfleet Utd vs Chester @15:00

A 4-2 loss to Bromley on New Years Day saw The Fleet’s six game unbeaten run in all competitions come to an end.  Chester are facing an unenviable task with the hosts winning seven, drawing five and only losing two at Stonebridge Road in the League this season.  That’s all before you take into account Chester’s situation, sitting 22nd, with a loss and a draw against relegation rivals Guiseley doing some sizeable damage.  The Blues have only one away League win, but have drawn seven times in their 13 League games on the road and do only sit eight points from safety with two games in hand on Barrow.  Marcus Bignot has problems at both ends of the pitch, however, conceding 43 in 26 League games , and scoring a division low 23 alongside Guiseley and Torquay.

Gateshead vs Sutton Utd @15:00

It is now four back-to-back League draws for a Gateshead side who are 17th.  The Heed have had favourable fixtures of late, playing the last five National League games against sides 15th or lower, but still picking up no wins.  The team should be inspired, though, by a 1-0 win at home to 7th placed Tranmere on 18th November as another top seven side come to play.  If they can put together a run, Gateshead do have the advantage of games in hand on most in the division, so all is not lost.  Sutton arrive 3rd, with only one win in the last five League games, three losses amongst them.  The form book tells the tale of a side who have slipped up in the title race, albeit having had a tough run of fixtures, and they can look to a record of winning 50% of all their away games in the division.

Leyton Orient vs Boreham Wood @15:00

10 points taken from the last five games, tells the story of an Orient side reinvigorated under new boss Justin Edinburgh.  However, it is two without a League win for The O’s following draining battles against Bromley and Dagenham & Redbridge, with no goals scored in either.  On the other hand, a previously leaky defence has conceded only two in the last five League matches and Orient are displaying a solidity and resolve which was absent earlier in the season. Visitors Boreham Wood are 8th and are only outside of the playoffs on goal difference. They have only picked up one win in the last four in the League, but equally have only one loss in their last 15 National League matches.  Looking at their away record, it reads only four League wins, but they have lost just twice.  It all points to a Wood side who are hard to beat.

Macclesfield Town vs Solihull Moors @15:00

Macc boss John Askey has picked up Manager of the Month for December, no surprise for a side that accumulated more points than any other in the division last month.  Macclesfield sit top of the pile, six points clear of the chasing pack, picking up five wins from the last six in the League and have now gone 10 without a loss in the division.  Away League form is better than a home, but The Macc have still picked up 25 points from a possible 42 at Moss Rose.  Recent previews have talked doom and gloom for Mark Yates’ side, but back-to-back League wins have seen Solihull off the bottom and into 21st.  They are still nine off safety and only three off bottom with the sides below them having games in hand, but it is a step in the right direction, as is the fact that they are no longer bottom of the goalscoring chart and top on goals conceded.

Maidenhead Utd vs FC Halifax Town @15:00

Losses to Solihull and Fylde see Alan Devonshire’s Maidenhead in 11th, but still only six points off the playoffs.  They have now conceded 40 goals in their 28 League matches and home is not exactly a fortress with five wins, five draws and four losses in the division. Halifax are three without a League win, but all of those games have come against the top four.  They are in 16th, 10 off the playoffs and 10 off the relegation zone, with their season in the balance.  They may struggle at York Road with only three away League wins from 14.

Woking vs Maidstone Utd @15:00

A battle of two out of form sides sees 14th placed Woking take on Maidstone in 12th.  Woking have only picked up one point from the last five matches, conceding 11, and only have one win in 11 National League games.  Despite this, they are only nine off the playoffs with a game in hand, and can rely on great home form that has seen The Cards win seven times and draw twice in their 13 League games.  Maidstone’s run of four points from the last six matches is exactly the same as the host’s, following three draws in a row.  But, despite their poor run, The Stones are only six off the playoffs with a game in hand and look to away form being their saviour with six wins and three draws from 13 in the League.

Wrexham vs Torquay Utd @15:00

Wrexham have hit a bit of a rut of late, with three draws in a row making it four without a League win.  Six points picked up in the last six matches has seen The Dragons 5th, now nine points off the summit with a game in hand, but only two clear of 8th placed Boreham Wood.  The hosts have scored four in he last two League games and conceded the same, bucking a trend of not scoring League goals (only the bottom four have scored fewer), but also seeing them lose their record of having the tightest defence.  Wrexham are imperious at The Racecourse with seven wins and six draws from 14 National League matches.  Torquay are now five without a League win, which has seen them drop to bottom of the table, 10 off safety, albeit with a game in hand.  In the last five League matches, they have scored only three, typical of a side who have scored the joint lowest number of League goals with 23 in 27, conceding 41 in that time.  The Gulls have lost nine times from their 14 away League games, with only two wins to celebrate, so will find it tough here.

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