Author Archives: Chris Hood

Saturday Premier Cup Quarter-Final Draw


2015 Winners Kelvedon Hatch to Face Tough Opposition

Chris Evans reports…

Kelvedon Hatch Manager Darren Hunt claims his side will have to be at “our very very best” to make further Essex Saturday Premier Cup progress after he was involved with the draw for the Quarter-Finals alongside Old Southendian boss John Brandon on Wednesday (17th January).

Hunt’s squad, Premier Cup winners in 2015, have a tough last-eight trip to ProKit UK Essex Olympian League Senior Division One leaders Buckhurst Hill to negotiate if they’re to make the Semi-Finals. Meanwhile, Brandon’s third-placed Senior Division One team host Manford Way, who last lifted the Premier Cup in 2005 and were 2-1 victors at Old Chelmsfordians in the previous round.

There are seven clubs still involved who are representing the Olympian League, while Waltham Abbey are the only remaining senior Reserve Team. This year’s final will be taking place at Billericay Town FC on Wednesday 11th April and the two managers who assisted with the draw both hope their squads will be there. John pulled out the home clubs while Darren was responsible for the away teams.

Kelvedon Hatch are in mid-table, but with a game in hand, and a couple of wins could propel them up a very tight Olympian League Premier Division table. They’re aiming for a repeat of 2015 when they lifted the same trophy, again with Darren in the dugout, and he explains that his squad enjoys competing in the Premier Cup each year.

“I think they’re [Buckhurst Hill] flying in their league,” he commented. “I looked at their team and looked at their squad and they look like they’re full of youngsters. It’ll be a tough game for us to go there. We’ll have to be at our very very best to get anything from the game. Hopefully my boys will do what they should and we’ll manage to get through.”

“I say to the boys every time we play in the cup to remember what the cup final’s like. To play in front of three or four hundred, like there was on that night against Catholic [2014/15 final] it is a good occasion. Your bread and butter’s the league but the actual occasion of a cup final… there’s nothing like it. We’re looking forward to trying to get back there again.”

Old Southendian themselves are currently chasing down Buckhurst Hill at the top of Senior Division One. It’s been an eventful run for them so far and, in the last 16, they recorded a 3-1 win at Olympian League Premier Division leaders Frenford. John claims the Premier Cup means a lot to his side each season as one of their main priorities.

He said: “I’ve been involved in a few sides before where, with cup runs, you don’t have to do too much of a team talk before games. Boys turn up for training 15 minutes before they should. All those little things you stress about as managers, when you have a good cup run these things take care of themselves. As a result, that makes your job a lot easier!”

“When you’re in the last eight, it doesn’t really matter who you play, they’re all good sides. You want a home draw and we’ve got it. Hopefully we’ll have a good crowd because we’ve got a good following at our club with some good people behind the scenes who make sure it’s a good afternoon for everyone. We’ll ensure everyone’s there in plenty of time, with good preparation, and just play a game of football.”

Elsewhere in the draw Waltham Abbey Reserves, who are doing very well in the Essex Senior League Reserve Division, entertain Olympian Premier contenders May & Baker Eastbrook CommunityCatholic United, fifth and with games in hand at the top of a tight Premier Division table, look forward to facing Shenfield Association who are fourth in Senior Division One and entered the last eight with a slender win at Little Oakley Reserves.

Essex Saturday Premier Cup Quarter-Finals (Saturday 3rd February)

Waltham Abbey Reserves vs May & Baker Eastbrook Community

Catholic United vs Shenfield Association

Buckhurst Hill vs Kelvedon Hatch

Old Southendian vs Manford Way



Baker Ready for Nottingham Test

Dave Ryan reports…

As his team prepare to face league leaders Nottingham Hoods at the Brentwood Centre on Saturday evening (7pm), Levett Essex Leopards’ coach Thomas Baker knows what they have to do if they are to take a key victory.

“We have to be ready to play Hoods next week if we are to continue the quest for promotion” he said. “We didn’t start well against them when they came to Brentwood in September, but we have to control things from tip to buzzer.

“Titles or promotion won’t be won on Saturday, but it’s a big game for us, and we need to be on top form for the whole 40 minutes.”

Hoods suffered their first defeat against Division Two opposition this season when they went down 99-86 against Thames Valley Cavaliers on Saturday, but they still top the table with an 11-1 record, and the battle for the two promotion spots looks to between the Big Cats, Hoods and Cavaliers.

With the Big Cats still to play Hoods twice and Cavaliers once, their destiny is in their own hands.

While Leopards have yet to visit Nottingham in the league, they did host the midlands side in the National Trophy group stage in September, with the Hoods running out 79-73 winners.

Tickets for the game are available online at, as well as on the door. The Big Cats are also staging their popular pre-game coaching session for under 16s, with booking available through their website.

The Big Cats made it five wins on the bounce on Sunday as they travelled to Derbyshire Arrows and returned with an 81-69 victory.

Captain Dougie Bennett led the way for the visitors with 27 points in 24 minutes despite limping out of the action with a knee injury in the fourth period.

Jerrel Layne came off the bench for the Big Cats to finish with 21 points while James Hayes finished with ten points and Shaq Lewis nine as Leopards survived being out-rebounded 32-25 to record their seventh win in nine games.

Coach Baker was delighted with the win:  “It was another strong performance from us” he said “We battled hard throughout and earned this victory.

“Credit to Derbyshire they responded well in the 2nd second quarter. However, the guys showed great discipline and determination to play the second half with our style throughout. Some big shots from Jerrel and Dougie allowed us to extend our lead along with some strong offensive rebounding by Shaq and Korry Callum”.

In a first half where Leopards never trailed, Will Ashby opened the scoring before Jamie Hayes hit a trey and Kevin Moyo scored from close range to put them 7-2 ahead, and Layne’s trey sent them into the first break with a 24-13 lead.

Callum hit a jump shot to extend that lead to 26-13 with the opening score of the second period, but with Baker rotating his side the visitors struggled to trouble the scorers.

Although Layne’s pair of free-throws put his side 33-26 up heading into the final 40 seconds of the half, Arrows scored the final five points of the period to make it a one-point game heading into the locker room.

Baugh gave Arrows their only lead of the game with the first score of the second half but Ashby and Bennett replied for the Big Cats and Callum gave his side a double digit lead before Bennett sent Leopards into the final break leading 60-51.

Yong guard Wes Moore made it a ten point game again with the free-throw to open the final period, and Arrows never got closer than within six points as Leopards closed out their seventh win of the league season.

With Baker’s team having played the fewest number of games in Division Two, they are also in action on Sunday as they travel to Team Birmingham Elite.

It will be the first meeting between the clubs, and with the midlands club sitting in ninth spot in the 12-team division with four wins from 11 games, it’s another game that the Big Cats need to win to maintain their promotion push.

FA Trophy 2nd Round Preview 13 January 2018

Saturday sees The 2nd Round Proper of The FA Trophy, non-league’s premier cup competition, with places in the last 16 available alongside £7,000 in prize money…

Ebbsfleet Utd vs Warrington Town @15:00

Ebbsfleet got back on the National League winning trail on Tuesday with a 2-1 victory at Maidstone, their first in four. This sees The Fleet in 10th, with Stonebridge Road witnessing seven wins, five draws and three losses in the division.  The hosts beat fellow National League side Eastleigh to get here.  Visitors Warrington arrive 3rd in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier having only lost three away League games, with six wins and three draws.  They have had to come through four rounds to get this far including a victory over National League North Tamworth.

Kidderminster Harriers vs Stockport County @15:00

An all National League North battle here as 6th placed Harriers take on 9th placed Stockport.  Kidderminster knocked holders York City out in the last round as well as beating Chester in the FA Cup, so will arrive full of confidence, especially as they won 2-1 away at the visitors earlier in the season.  The hosts are unbeaten in 14 League games and have only one home League loss, with seven wins and four draws.  The Hatters also have an enviable record, losing just once in their last 11 matches, but only have three away League wins.  Watch out for the visitor’s Jason Oswell in this one, he is the joint top scorer in the division with 19.

East Thurrock Utd vs Chester @15:00

East Thurrock are mid-table in National League South in their second season at that level.  The Rocks have an indifferent home League record with four wins, three draws and five losses, but are the second highest scorers in the division with 45 in 24 games.  However, they are also a little porous at the other end of the pitch, conceding 46, making them the fourth highest conceders.  They did, however, keep out Aldershot in the last round, winning 4-0, but suffered the same fate away at Braintree Town on Saturday. Sam Higgins will be the man to watch for the hosts with 17 in the National League South this season, the division’s top scorer. Chester sit 21st in the National League, but are undefeated in three in the division including creditable results against Ebbsfleet and Fylde (the side they beat in the last round on penalties).  Only bottom of the table Torquay have scored fewer League goals than their 25 in 28.

Bognor Regis Town vs Leyton Orient @15:00

One of two matches guaranteed to be settled on the day, Bognor host Orient while sitting 21st in National League South, with only two home League wins all season.  The Rocks have conceded 44 in 25 League matches, scoring 29, and are seven without a League win.  This all comes in a season that started so well, with a five game undefeated streak. Orient arrive 19th in the National League, three without a League win, a hiccup for a side revitalised under Justin Edinburgh.  It is also three without a goal, but only two conceded in the last six in the League for a previously porous defence.  The O’s have picked up only three away League wins, but have won one, drawn one and lost one away in the cups.  They also have a raft of new signings, a couple of which may play at Nyewood Lane.

Brackley Town vs Barrow @15:00

Flying high in National League North, Brackley are 3rd, undefeated at home with eight wins and four draws.  They have also conceded a division low 22 in 25 matches and are nine without loss in all competitions.  They have also gone well in The Trophy, beating fellow high flyers Braintree and Salford City.  They also beat Braintree in the FA Cup, but were humbled by Isthmian Premier Billericay.  Barrow arrive 20th in the National League, and are four without a win in the division.  They have, however, had more away League wins than at Holker Street (4 vs 3) and have had impressive draws with Tranmere and Wrexham recently.  They have also experienced cup humiliation, losing to Shaw Lane away in the FA Cup.

Weston-Super-Mare vs Workington AFC @15:00

Weston are 9th in the National League South with six home League wins, one draw and four losses.  They are on a four game winning streak in all competitions, but what cost will there be of losing influential winger Dayle Grubb to Forest Green? Workington are 4th in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier, and arrive in this round after beating Hartlepool.  They have gone through four rounds to get this far, and were on a nine game unbeaten League run until defeat to Whitby last time out.  However, Workington have only won three away League games all season.

Billericay Town vs Stourbridge @15:00

Two teams with great cup pedigree this season face off at the AGP Arena. Glenn Tamplin’s ‘Ricay are 2nd in the Isthmian Premier, five off table toppers Dulwich Hamlet with five games in hand.  They have conceded only 17 in their 22 League fixtures, scoring a massive 57.  They have also beaten Havant & Waterlooville and Hungerford of the National League South to get this far and made it to the 1st Round Proper of the FA Cup, again beating Hungerford as well as high flying Brackley Town.  Watch out for Jake Robinson who has scored 19 League goals in a prolific season in which Billericay have scored in 40 consecutive matches in all competitions. Stourbridge are 10th in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier, with seven away League wins and five losses.  They have conceded 27 in 25 League games and have beaten National League North Leamington and Bradford PA in this competition as well as conquering Alfreton in the FA Cup before exiting to Macclesfield.

FC Halifax vs Maidenhead Utd @15:00

Halifax only made it through to this stage on Tuesday with victory over Macclesfield Town in their delayed first round clash.  The Shaymen are four without a League win and sit 16th in the National League, only scoring two in their last four in the division, including a 0-0 draw with their opponents Maidenhead at York Road last time out.  The same fixture in the League saw the hosts win 3-2 back in September, so Maidenhead will want to put that right, but arrive off the back of three without a League win, including a damaging 3-1 loss away to Solihull on New Year’s Day.

Maidstone Utd vs Heybridge Swifts @15:00

Maidstone are in terrible form.  Their loss to Ebbsfleet on Tuesday extended their run without a League win to 10, with only six points taken.  They have also only won three times at The Gallagher Stadium in the League, but can be positive for beating Torquay 4-0 in the last round during this torrid run, as well as overcoming Cheltenham in the FA Cup.  Visitors Heybridge are the lowest ranked side still in the competition and have been on fire in the cups, beating Hampton & Richmond Borough (4th in National League South) in the last round of the Trophy to make it through five rounds of the competition so far, the same amount of rounds as in the FA Cup where they eventually lost out the Exeter City in the 1st Round Proper. Swifts haven’t done too bad in the Isthmian North either – despite being 15th they have played significantly fewer than the rest in the division and have scored 42 in 17.

Dover Athletic vs Marine @15:00

Dover are 6th in the National League, but are five without a League win, which has seen them fall from their previous lofty heights.  They are tight at the back, only conceding 23 in 29 League matches, only one side has done better in the division.  It is some task then for Evo-Stik Northern Premier Marine who are 21st in the division.  They have conceded a sizeable 47 in 27 League games, but have found solace in the Trophy, where they have beaten National League North Chorley and FC United.

Gateshead vs Boreham Wood @15:00

Gateshead have struggled of late and are down in 18th in the National League, six without a win.  They face a challenging task in 5th placed Wood, who are four undefeated in the League, with one loss in 17 in the division.  However, The Heed can look to a 1-1 draw here in the League in September and a good FA Cup run which saw them reach the 2nd Round.  Boreham Wood also reached that stage before similarly being knocked out by Football League opposition and picked up a shock against Blackpool in the First Round.

Wealdstone vs Hereford @15:00

Wealdstone will certainly have no excuse for not being well rested, having not been in action since New Year’s Day, but it is four without a League win for the side 13th in National League South.  The Stones have won seven, drawn one and lost four at home in the League and have had contrasting fortunes in the two cups, beating 6th placed National League South side Chelmsford City in this competition, but losing to Isthmian Premier Burgess Hill in the FA Cup. Hereford are one of the headline makers in the cup competitions this season, having already seen off Dagenham and Redbridge and Oxford City in this competition, as well as Eastleigh and Telford as they reached the 2nd Round Proper of the FA Cup.  The Bulls are 3rd in the Southern Premier, two points off top with three games in hand, unbeaten away from home in the League with eight wins and four draws, and have scored a division high 62 in 24 matches, conceding a League low 21.

Sutton Utd vs Hendon @15:00

The hosts are 3rd in the National League, but have been inconsistent of late.  They have won six, drawn four and lost four at Gander Green Lane in the League and are due a cup run, after losing out to Cambridge Utd in the FA Cup 1st Round.  Visitors Hendon are 5th in the Isthmian Premier, with six wins and six losses in their 12 away League games.  They have scored a massive 57 in 25 League matches, conceding only 29 and beat National League South Bath City, plus three others, to get this far.

Blyth Spartans vs Bromley @15:00

Blyth are 5th in National League North, and have amazingly not had a single draw in their League campaign, winning seven and losing five at home.  Their last 12 National League North matches are split down the middle with six wins and six losses, and expect to see a lot of action at both ends with 56 League goals scored in 24, conceding 42. Bromley are 9th in the National League after a run of two wins, two draws and two losses.  They have scored a League high 46 in 29 matches and have won six, drawn four and lost four away in the division.

Spennymoor Town vs Solihull Moors @15:00

The second of the two games guaranteed to be settled on the day sees in form Spennymoor host Solihull.  The hosts only made it through to this stage on Tuesday, finally getting their first round fixture with Gainsborough played, winning on penalties after the match ended 4-4 after extra time.  They are 4th in National League North, winning three on the bounce and scoring 49 in 24 League matches, conceding a sizeable 38.  Visitors Solihull have picked up of late and are now three undefeated in the National League, including a shock 0-0 draw with Macclesfield last time out.  They also beat Tranmere in the last round, albeit in controversial circumstances, but will be concerned with only picking up three away League wins, taking 11 points of a possible 45.  Moors have also only scored 26 in 29 League games, conceding 45 – only one side has conceded more.

St Albans City vs Harrogate Town @15:00

Hosts St Albans have won, drawn and lost in the last three in National League South, but that record looks better when you consider it has come against the sides ranked 6th and 7th.  They are 8th in the division and have won six times at home in the League, drawing four and losing three. Visitors Harrogate are 2nd in National League North, and are the division’s top scorers with 59 in 25.  They have eight away League wins from 13 and will be confident about going through to the last 16 after defeating Wrexham away in the last round.

Essex Senior Cup Semi-Final Draw

Chris Evans reports…


Billericay Host Romford, East Thurrock Meet Chelmsford

Essex Senior Cup underdogs, Romford, have been handed a high-profile Semi-Final tie away at Billericay Town after the draw was made on Wednesday (10th January), with East Thurrock United set to entertain Chelmsford City.

Paul Martin’s ‘Boro’ side, who defeated Grays Athletic 1-0 a short time after the draw was made thanks to a Connor Hammond strike, are currently in the lower reaches of the Bostik North Division. Yet their Senior Cup performances have been a source of great pride, already dispatching promotion contenders Maldon & Tiptree and Canvey Island.

Now they’ll have Glenn Tamplin’s Premier Division leaders in their sights as they bid to spring a surprise and make it to the final at Colchester United FC’s Weston Homes Community Stadium on Tuesday 20th March. Billericay themselves progressed, 3-0, past Harlow Town with two Billy Bricknell goals and one from Dean Inman the previous evening.

Meanwhile, two clubs who are very familiar with each other are Vanarama National League rivals East Thurrock and Chelmsford, who’ll go head-to-head at the FutureFuel Stadium. John Coventry’s Rocks are hoping to go a stage further as 2017 runners-up to holders City, managed by Rod Stringer, who knocked out Colchester United 1-0 thanks to Shaun Batt’s late finish. East Thurrock also snuck past Concord Rangers by a single Montel Agyemang goal.

The Semi-Final ties are due to be completed by 10th February. Two special guests assisted with the draw – local non-league football journalist, James Colasanti, pulled out the home clubs, while Nick Alliker selected the away sides. Colasanti felt it was an intriguing pair of ties.

“You’ve got a repeat of last season’s final on one side of the draw,” he said. “Personally I try to remain Essex-neutral but I always kind of have a hankering for the underdogs so I’d like to see Romford come through and certainly get to the final or, perhaps, win it. I know they run things on a shoestring down there, so that would be the romantic one.”

James also commented on the fortunes of Bostik North challengers Heybridge Swifts, for whom he has a media reporting role. Swifts have performed exceedingly well in the FA Cup and Trophy this season and have the chance of further glory in the League. He added: “It could go any way for Heybridge at the moment.”

“In context, they’ve only beaten relegation on the final day for the last two seasons now so, for this season to come through and be the lowest-ranked team left in the FA Cup at League Two Exeter City, and also the lowest-ranked team left in the FA Trophy, it represents quite a turnaround in fortunes. They’ve now got up to a dozen games in hand so, if they can remain consistent, hopefully they can push themselves and challenge for a play-off place.”

Essex Senior Cup Semi-Finals (on or before 10th February)

Billericay Town vs Romford

East Thurrock United vs Chelmsford City



National League Preview 13 January 2018

With the 2nd Round of the FA Trophy taking place this weekend, only three National League games are scheduled, but it is a chance for all six sides to pick up some valuable points…

AFC Fylde vs Guiseley @15:00

A draw at home to Chester on Tuesday night stalled some of The Coasters’ momentum, but it is still four League games without a loss for the 11th placed side, and they are still in reach of the playoffs, six points off with two games in hand on Dagenham and Redbridge who sit 7th.  The fact that Fylde have only won four League games at Mill Field will worry some, but with the League’s top scorer in Danny Rowe on hand, fans will always be confident on getting something from a game.  Visitors Guiseley had their home game against Gateshead on Tuesday postponed due to a frozen pitch, so should be fresher, but are three without a League win following last weekend’s loss at Eastleigh, typical of a season where they have picked up nine of a possible 42 away points.  The Lions are the only side in the division to have conceded 50 League goals and have scored exactly half that number, only Torquay scoring fewer.  However, despite sitting 23rd, Guiseley are only nine points off safety with two games in hand on 20th placed Barrow.

Torquay Utd vs Eastleigh @15:00

Torquay are bottom of the League, 11 points off safety, with a sizeable amount of goal difference to make up.  They have lost their last two League matches to make it six without a League win, with only three points taken in that time and only two goals scored, no surprise for a side who are the lowest scorers in the division (23 from 28 matches, conceding 45 – almost double!).  Gulls fans will also be well aware that they have the worst home record in the National League.  Eastleigh are 15th, a 4-2 win against Guiseley on Saturday making it five without a League defeat.  However, Andy Hessenthaler will want to improve The Spitfires’ form on the road with only three away League wins.

Woking vs Tranmere Rovers @15:00

A remarkable 4-4 draw with Maidstone on Saturday continued a run of six without a League win for The Cards with only one win in the last 12 National League matches.  However, Woking can look to a solid home record in the division which has seen them win seven, draw three and lose four.  After a phenomenal December, Tranmere have no League wins in 2018, with a draw to Barrow following up a loss to Fylde.  Both of these games were on the road, and the away run continues with this trip.  It is perhaps no surprise that Rovers didn’t win the opening matches of 2018 as they have only won three away League games all season.  The visitors can, however, lean on a defence that has conceded only 26 in their 28 National League matches, but memories of conceding five to Fylde must still haunt them.

Leopards Win Thriller

Dave Ryan reports…

Levett Essex Leopards made it four wins on the bounce as they came from 15 points down in the first half to beat Westminster Warriors 75-73.

For the third successive time at Brentwood, the game went down to the final seconds before the Big Cats came out on top.

The result keeps Thomas Baker’s team in the hunt for promotion, with their next home game seeing leaders Nottingham Hoods visit Brentwood on Saturday January 20 (7pm).

Will Ashby led the way for the hosts, hitting three treys in a 20 point, four rebound, three assist performance, while fellow Brentwood boy Dougie Bennett added 18 points and four assists.

Shaq Lewis again provided the spark off the bench with ten points and six boards, while Jamie Hayes added four points to a ten rebound performance.

For the visitors, player-coach Jon Johnson again redoubled the Big Cats with a 24 point, 12 rebound double-double – though he took 17 shots and lived at the free-throw line – while former Leopards Justin Hitchman and Lawrence Brown added 13 points apiece, Hitchman also pulling down ten boards.

Brown opened the scoring for the visitors, and Leopards struggled with Warriors’ size in the opening stages as the seven footer caused them problems, allowing another former Big Cat Tosin Oyelese to hit seven straight points.

Warriors led throughout the opening period, and despite Ashby and Jerrell Layne hitting treys, the Big Cats trailed 27-14 at the first break.

Hayes opened the second period scoring, but back-to-back triples from Johnson saw Warriors’ lead grow to 33-18.

This finally sparked the hosts into life, with Lewis converting a lay-up before Ashby scored seven straight points capped by a trey to cut the deficit to six.

Warriors replied with six unanswered points before captain Bennett caught fire, landing two triples as he hit ten points in a 13-2 run to send his side into the locker room only trailing 41-38.

Bennett continued that run with the opening score of the second half before Ashby gave Leopards their first lead of the game, and Caleb Taberner  completed the 19-2 run to put the Big Cats 45-41 ahead three minutes into the period.

Warriors grabbed the lead back with an 8-2 run and the rest of the third period was nip and tuck before treys from Korey Callum and Jose Morais sent Leopards into the final break with a 59-54 lead.

That lead quickly evaporated as Warriors scored six straight points to open the fourth period, before Lewis, Bennett and Ashby helped Leopards’ reply with a 6-0 run of their own.

A Johnson triple saw Leopards’ lead cut to 66-65 at the five minute mark but scores from Lewis and Ashby saw them lead by four heading into the final three minutes.

A steal and lay-up from Ashby extended that advantage before Hayes hit a pair at the line to make it a five point game with a minute remaining.

Lewis fouled out to send Hitchman to the line where he converted both shots before Johnson split a pair at the charity stripe to cut Leopards’ lead to two 32 seconds on the clock.

Johnson had a shot to tie the game after grabbing the rebound from his missed free-throw, but some good defence kept Leopards ahead and Hayes’ pass found an unmarked Bennett who was able to run the clock down and seal the win.

The Big Cats travel to Derbyshire Arrows on Sunday where they will face a side sitting ninth in the table with four wins from nine games.

The teams were regular opponents during Leopards’ early days in Division One, but haven’t met since Arrows were relegated in 2009/10.



National League Preview 9 January 2018

Four National League games take place on Tuesday night, with sides playing catch up on the rest of the division…

AFC Fylde vs Chester @19:45

It is now three League wins in a row for The Coasters as they build up a head of steam.  Saturday’s 1-0 win at Bromley saw Fylde up to 11th, just six points off Tranmere in 7th, with two games in hand on Rovers.  Fylde have only won four League games at Mill Farm, but equally have suffered only two losses, so may be a tough nut to crack for visiting Chester.  The Blues pulled out a surprising win away at Ebbsfleet on Saturday, which moves them up to 21st, 6 off Barrow in 20th with two games in hand.  Equally, Chester are only five off bottom, and two away League wins all season (including Saturday) point to a side who struggles to get it done on the road, but have picked up seven draws.  Only Torquay have scored fewer League goals, with 43 conceded in 27 games in the division not a record to be proud of either.

Dagenham & Redbridge vs Boreham Wood @19:45

The Daggers got back to winning ways on Saturday with a 4-2 victory over Hartlepool that sees them back in the playoffs in 6th.  It is now three undefeated in the League for John Still’s men and his side have finally got back on the goal scoring trail after a barren run of games.  Victory on Saturday extended a brilliant home League record which reads, nine wins, two draws and only three losses. Boreham Wood arrive off the back of a 0-0 draw with Leyton Orient, their second consecutive point.  They sit 8th, a point outside the playoffs, with their record now extended to one defeat in 16 National League matches.  They have won only four away games in the division, but have picked up eight draws and will be a difficult opponent to beat with only 27 goals conceded in 28 League games.

Guiseley vs Gateshead @19:45

A 4-2 loss to Eastleigh on Saturday extended The Lion’s winless League run to three with five points taken in the last six.  They are nine points off Barrow in 20th with two games in hand, so the gap isn’t insurmountable, but Guiseley will need to improve a record of only two home League wins.  They became the first side to concede 50 National League goals this season, in 27 matches, scoring exactly half of that total.  For opponents Gateshead, a loss to Sutton at The International Stadium extended their run to six without a League win, with four points picked up.  They are now down in 18th, seven points clear of the drop zone, but with a game in hand on Chester.  The Heed will be seeking to improve a record of only two away League wins, with seven draws.

Maidstone Utd vs Ebbsfleet Utd @19:45

A remarkable 4-4 draw with Woking on Saturday saw The Stones extend their winless League run to nine, but they are unbeaten in the last four.  Despite their poor run, the 13th placed side are only six points off the playoffs with a game in hand.  Home form has been poor with only three League wins, but they have drawn seven.  Ebbsfleet were shocked 1-0 at home to Chester on Saturday and it is back-to-back League losses, winless in three in the division for a side who were putting themselves in playoff contention.  They are now five points off the playoffs in 10th, and have struggled on the road with only two away League wins, drawing seven.

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.