Author Archives: Chris Hood

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.


Baker Looking For Successful New Year

Dave Ryan reports…

As his side prepare to return to action with a visit from Westminster Warriors, Levett Essex Leopards’ coach Thomas Baker is ready for a key four months of action.

“2018 is going to be a big year for us, as we are currently a few games behind other teams in the schedule due to some weekends off and we will need to be ready for some tough double headers” he said. “There’s no better game to get us ready for being tough than a home tie against Westminster. It’s quite poetic that we started the season playing Westminster and we kick off 2018 playing Westminster.

“They will be ready for us that’s for sure, it was a highly competitive affair at their place and both sides have improved their rosters since then.

“Ending 2017 5-2 has kept us in contention but as I said we will need to be ready for a tough couple of months if we are to achieve our aim of returning back to Division One at the first time of asking.”

As Baker says, the Big Cats have played the fewest number of games in Division Two, and head into the New Year in fourth place.

Warriors – who have former Leopards Mike Martin, Tosin Oyelese, Justin Hitchman, Mantis Adomantis and Lawrence Brown on their roster – will arrive at Brentwood one place behind Leopards having split their first ten games.

After the two sides were relegated from Division One last season they met in their opening game in the second tier, and the Big Cats made a winning start as they finished the game strongly to win 83-77 with Korey Callum and Dougie Bennett each scoring 19 points.

The London side have adjusted well to life in the second tier, and along with their five league wins they have reached the semi-final of the Patrons Cup.

The Big Cats will again be running their pre-game coaching session with the players teaching youngsters how to play the game. Further details on www.leopardsbasketball.co.uk or call 07828 470015.


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.

 


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.

 

 


Lakeside Speedway – HAMMERS UNVEIL NEW BOSS

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE are delighted to announce Will Pottinger will take over as team manager of the club in 2018.
The Vortex Hammers are preparing for an exciting year after moving up into the SGB Championship and Pottinger is set to lead their powerful side into the second tier.

With other commitments leading Kelvin Tatum to relinquish the role, Cradley boss Pottinger has accepted the job.

It is a big step for the 30-year-old, who has enjoyed remarkable success with the Heathens in the National League but is now set to test himself at a higher level. He will, however, remain with the Heathens for their National Trophy campaign.

With an attractive side already pieced together by club bosses, he can’t wait to get started at the Arena-Essex Raceway.

“It’s a great privilege to be asked by Lakeside to manage their team, so it’s something I’m really looking forward to,” Pottinger said. 

“I helped Lakeside out on three occasions last season, managing them when Kelvin Tatum was unavailable, and I obviously made an impression which has led to this opportunity.

“It’s nice to be asked to take on a job in the Championship, and although it’s going to be a challenge I’d like to think I’m ready for it.

“Lakeside have put a very strong side together, and I’ve dealt most of the riders at some time or another. 

“I imagine there won’t be too much bedding in time for me which is good, and I’m looking forward to getting started.”


The Orient Hour – show 63 (24 December 2017)

For the very first time, The Orient Hour goes on the road with our Christmas Special recorded at Leyton Orient Supporters Club on 20 December.  Join host CHRIS HOOD and a star-studded panel of KEVIN DICKENSON, TERRY HOWARD, STEVE CASTLE, BARRY LAKIN, DAVE VICTOR, ANDY GILSON, BARRY GALVIN and former O’s Head Groundsman CHARLIE HASLER.

The Orient Hour will return in the New Year.


National League Boxing Day Preview

The National League continues to be tight heading into the Christmas-New Year schedule, with none of the top 8 able to win on Saturday.  Will anything change on Boxing Day?

Leyton Orient vs Dagenham & Redbridge @13:00

The O’s have now won three in a row in all competitions, the first time they have done so since August 2015.  They remain 20th after Saturday’s win at Maidstone, but are six points clear of Chester in 21st (albeit The Blues have a game in hand).  Orient also have good form this season against their opponents, having played them twice in the FA Cup, winning the replay 1-0 after a scoreless draw in the first tie.  Dagenham are 6th, and had their run of four consecutive League wins ended by Eastleigh, making it two losses in a row in all competitions.  The Daggers have also found wins hard to come by on the road, only winning three from 12 in the division.

Aldershot Town vs Woking @15:00

The Shots are now three without a win in the League, but it could have been even worse had a 94th minute equaliser not saved a point against Guiseley on Saturday.  The host’s poor run of form could see them drop out of the playoffs, but their attack can give them hope with only two sides having scored more than their 38 in the League.  Visitors Woking are also on bad run, and now sit down in 13th after Saturday’s loss to Barrow, with only one win from the last eight in the League.  The Cards have only taken 10 points from an available 33 away this season, so win would be a turn up for the books.

Barrow vs Wrexham @15:00

Barrow may sit 19th, but are on a good run with Ady Pennock’s boys picking up four wins in the last six League matches, the two losses coming up against teams in the top 8.  Unfortunately, for the hosts, the team in 2nd is coming to town with Barrow only having three home League wins from a possible 12.  Wrexham got back to their clean sheets on Saturday with a 0-0 draw against 3rd placed Dover, perhaps no surprise with the division’s two tightest defences taking each other on.  However, it is a story of missed opportunities, unable to take advantage of Macclesfield’s slip up as it is now two without a League win.  Away form is a bit wobbly with five wins, two draws and five losses in the National League and goals have been hard to come by, with only the bottom four having scored fewer.

Boreham Wood vs Sutton Utd @15:00

Boreham Wood’s 0-0 draw with bottom of the table Solihull continued their undefeated League streak, which has now reached 12 matches.  The host are 7th and have only conceded one goal in their last six National League games.  Visitors Sutton are 4th and only sit three points off top spot, that despite back-to-back League losses, conceding seven.  A big win could still take them to the summit.

Chester vs Guiseley @15:00

A basement battle as 21st placed Chester take on Guiseley who are 23rd.  Chester’s 4-0 loss on Saturday (their second in three League games) against FC Halifax means they sit six points off Leyton Orient in 20th, albeit with a game in hand.  Marcus Bignot has a real job on his hands, with only one win in the last eight in the League, that coming against former side Solihull, and only three home League wins.  His side are also shipping goals with the 40 League goal mark hit on Saturday, with problems at the other end as only the bottom two have scored fewer.  Guiseley aren’t much better off, despite their draw with Aldershot ending a run of four consecutive League losses.  They could be even better off, but for a 94th minute equaliser, and those would have been a valuable three points with The Lions nine from safety (but with two games in hand on Leyton Orient in 20th).  Much like the hosts, Guiseley suffer with problems at both ends of the pitch – no team has scored fewer than their 20 National League goals with only bottom Solihull conceding more than their 41.  The visitors have also only won once away in the League, with six points taken from an available 33.

Dover Athletic vs Maidstone Utd @15:00

A Christmas Kent derby sees 3rd against 12th.  Dover missed out on the chance to go top with a 0-0 draw against Wrexham, no surprise for a team with the tightest defence in the League (17 conceded from 25), but another winless game was also not a shock, with only one victory in the last six League games.  Visitors Maidstone are now five without a win in the division after Saturday’s home loss to Leyton Orient, and it is now four without scoring a League goal.  However, away is where The Stones have performed better this season, picking up 19 points from a possible 33.

Eastleigh vs Torquay Utd @15:00

Andy Hessenthaler got off to a dream start as Eastleigh First Team Manager, the 2-1 away win against Dagenham & Redbridge ending a run of seven without a League victory.  Home form will need to improve, though, with only three wins from a possible 12 in the League.  22nd Torquay are three without a National League win after winning the two previous to that, scoring only one goal.  Gary Owers side will certainly be well rested, as it will be 10 days since their last match, and the boss will hope the break can rejuvenate their away form with only eight points taken from a possible 36.  Owers may also have been working on goalscoring, with only the bottom two having scored fewer League goals.

Ebbsfleet Utd vs Bromley @15:00

Another Kent derby sees Ebbsfleet looking to keep up a run of three undefeated in the League, in which they have conceded only one and scored eight – things could have been even better had Danny Rowe not notched a late equaliser on Saturday. Home form has been strong with only two losses in the League, but The Fleet come up against a side good away from home with only three losses from 12 in the division.  Three National League draws in a row in a run of four without a League win means that The Ravens still sit outside the playoffs in 8th.  The problem certainly hasn’t been going forward with Bromley being the League’s top scorers with 40, but keeping the opposition out at the other end has been difficult of late.

Gateshead vs Hartlepool Utd @15:00

Gateshead are 16th, three without a League win, but have had a spell away from the competition with no game since 12 December.  The International Stadium is a position of strength with only 3 League losses from 11. Hartlepool arrive looking for new owners and with four consecutive League losses, although it looked for a time on Saturday that they could have pulled out a win, before conceding two in the second half.  The Monkey Hangers have only scored two in the last four in the division, conceding 11.

Macclesfield Town vs FC Halifax Town @15:00

Macclesfield spend Christmas Day top, despite failing to beat Bromley.  That result extended the team’s undefeated League streak to seven, but their away form is much stronger than at the Moss Rose where The Macc have won five from 12 in the League.  Things are looking up for visitors Halifax who have two League wins on the bounce, with clean sheets in both.  They will be hoping to improve on their three away League wins on Boxing Day.

Maidenhead Utd vs Solihull Moors @15:00

The hosts are 11th after picking up their first League win in eight on Saturday, coming from behind to beat Hartlepool.  Visitors Solihull may be bottom, 10 points from safety, but they have only lost twice in their last six in the League, with an impressive point against in form Boreham Wood.  The fact that The Moors have only scored one in their last three National League games is endemic of a League season where only Guiseley have scored fewer, with no team conceding more, although one goal conceded in the last three has stemmed the tide.

Tranmere Rovers vs AFC Fylde @15:00

Tranmere are on the march.  Three League wins in a row, scoring 10 and conceding only one, sees them sitting two points off the playoffs, with 23 points from a possible 36 at home.  Their position is based on a solid defence with only 19 conceded in 24 League games.  Visitors Fylde are still playing catch up with the rest of the division, sitting 17th, but could be as high as 8th if they win their games in hand.  A late Danny Rowe equaliser on Saturday stopped a poor home record from looking worse, while The Coasters have had more luck away in the League with four wins and three draws from 12.

 


National League Preview 23 December 2017

It’s the last round of fixtures before Christmas in the National League, will they be crackers or turkeys?

AFC Fylde vs Ebbsfleet Utd @15:00

Hosts Fylde are 17th, but with two to three games in hand on most sides in the National League, which could see them 9th or even higher.  They have only won three home matches in the League from a possible nine, however, and couldn’t match their stellar FA Cup run in the Trophy, losing to Chester on penalties.  Visitors Ebbsfleet are 10th, having only won two of 11 League away games, but will be buoyed by beating Eastleigh in the Trophy.

Bromley vs Macclesfield Town @15:00

No side has scored more than hosts Bromley, who have scored 39 from their 24 League matches.  Despite that, The Ravens find themselves down in 8th, three without a win in the League, conceding eight in those matches, but predictably scoring well with six.  League leaders Macclesfield Town make the trip to Hayes Lane on a run of six without defeat in the League, conceding only five in that time.  They have taken a massive 25 points of a possible 36 away, but what effect will there be of their FA Trophy match at FC Halifax being postponed twice in the last week?

Dagenham & Redbridge vs Eastleigh @15:00

Dagenham play at home at 3pm on a Saturday for the first time since 18 November and come into the game with four League wins on the bounce, keeping three consecutive clean sheets.  The Daggers have a great home record, taking 25 of the 33 points on offer and are lethal attacking the opposition goal, with only Bromley scoring more than the Daggers 38 League goals.  However, despite the great League form, humiliation by Southern Premier Hereford in Sunday’s FA Trophy game will have been in the mind of fans this week.  Perhaps there is a chance to get back on track as 18th placed Eastleigh visit, on a run of seven without a League win, conceding 17.  The Spitfires only have two away League wins and have been subject to a management reshuffle this week with Richard Hill going upstairs to become Director of Football, while his Assistant Andy Hessenthaler takes charge of the first team.

FC Halifax Town vs Chester @15:00

Halifax are down in 16th, but will be buoyed by their 1-0 win against Aldershot in the League which broke a run of 11 without a National League win.  Home form is nothing to write home about with four wins, four draws and four losses in the division, but will this game even go ahead with the home FA Trophy tie against Macclesfield twice postponed in the last week? Chester will hope it does with them sitting 21st, three points off Leyton Orient and safety with a game in hand on The O’s.  Victory against Solihull broke a run of six without a win in the League, and they followed that up by beating Fylde on penalties in the Trophy, but boss Marcus Bignot will be concerned about improving on a paltry one League win away and only 22 goals scored in their 23 League games this season.

Guiseley vs Aldershot Town @15:00

Guiseley are in trouble, sitting 23rd with four League losses in a row, three of those without scoring.  They have won only two at Nethermoor Park in the League this season, and the for and against column looks grim, having scored a division low 19 in 22, with only two teams conceding more than their 40.  Their was no respite in the Trophy, losing out in a trip to Gateshead on Wednesday, but fans can have hope in the fact that The Lions have games in hand of those around them.  Visitors Aldershot will hope to get back on track, their run having been cooled by going winless in two in the League, not scoring in either.  The Shots followed that up with a 4-0 humiliation away at East Thurrock in the Trophy, but still find themselves 6th and will fancy themselves against their lowly opponents.

Hartlepool Utd vs Maidenhead Utd @15:00

Who would be a Hartlepool fan?  The club is now up for sale following a tumultuous last 12 months, and The Monkey Hangers sit 14th having lost three League games on the bounce, scoring only one and conceding nine.  They have 15 points from a possible 36 at home, and were dumped out of the FA Trophy at Northern Premier League Workington on Saturday.  Maidenhead are only a place above the hosts, though, with the two teams level on points and The Magpies seven without a League win, scoreless in the last two.  They did, however, beat Woking in the Trophy.

Maidstone Utd vs Leyton Orient @15:00

The Stones have been woeful in the League of late, winless in four, without a goal in the last three of those.  They have only won three at home in the League, despite the perceived advantage of their artificial pitch, but are still 11th and banged in the goals in a 4-0 defeat of Torquay in the Trophy on Saturday.  Orient have now won back-to-back games for the first time since 2 September, as they followed up a 4-1 thumping of Sutton Utd by squeezing past Haringey Borough of the Isthmian North 2-1 on Saturday.  That win on the artificial turf of Coles Park may have given The O’s some confidence on the surface having lost 2-0 at Sutton and 6-1 at Bromley.  Despite Justin Edinburgh beginning a turnaround for the visitors, the record still stands at only two away League wins, with only bottom of the table Solihull (42) having conceded more than Orient’s 41 League goals.

Solihull Moors vs Boreham Wood @15:00

Speaking of The Moors, the hosts have only two League wins at home and, in addition to their poor defensive record, only Guiseley have scored fewer than their 21 in 24 National League games.  However, things have picked up recently, as Solihull did beat Leyton Orient two League games ago and shocked Tranmere in their rescheduled FA Trophy match on Monday.  Visitors Boreham Wood are in great form, with three League wins on the bounce, conceding only one and scoring seven.  They are 11 undefeated in the division, but it took a replay and penalties to beat National League South Dartford in the Trophy.

Sutton Utd vs Tranmere Rovers @15:00

2nd placed Sutton could go top on Saturday, and are looking to bounce back from their 4-1 loss to Orient which knocked them off the lead.  The Ambers have had a good run of League fixtures lately but, despite that, still lost to Orient and Torquay.  Visitors Tranmere will be a test having won the last two in the League without conceding, scoring seven.  They sit 9th after a difficult start to the season, conceding only 18 in 23 League matches, but have only won two away in the division.

Woking vs Barrow @15:00

Thinks have gone sour for The Cards recently, with one win in the last six in the League seeing them down in 12th.  They have strong home form, taking 23 points from a possible 33, but couldn’t match their FA Cup run in the Trophy, losing to Maidenhead.  Barrow are 19th, with three wins and three losses in the last six National League games.  Within that, though, the three loses came against sides in the top half, with The Bluebirds going scoreless.  Away form is also a problem with only 11 points taken of a possible 36.

Wrexham vs Dover Athletic @15:00

Last, but by no means least, the game of the weekend sees 3rd take on 4th, with both sides able to take top spot.  Wrexham have four wins from their last six League matches, but had a stinker losing 4-1 to top of the table Macclesfield last time out and followed that up by exiting the FA Trophy at the hands of National League North Harrogate.  The Dragons have also lost only once at home in the division, and this will be a battle of the two stingiest defences in the division with Wrexham’s 18 conceded only bettered by Dover’s 17.  Dover have scored 10 more League goals than their opponents and illustrated their goalscoring ability by beat Hartlepool 4-0.  However, one win from the last five in the National League tells the story of a side who blew a chance of leading coming into Christmas.


Bennett to Train with Scotland

Dave Ryan reports…

There’s no rest for Levett Essex Leopards’ captain Dougie Bennett as he will spend part of the Big Cats’ two week Christmas break training with the Scotland national squad.

Bennett has been included in a 20-man training squad for a three day camp ahead of April’s Commonwealth Games basketball tournament.

He will travel to Dunfermline for the first day of the camp on Wednesday, with the second and third day of training taking place in Edinburgh.

Scotland are in the same group as England in the competition, and a squad of 12 will be chosen from this week’s trial.

The 24-year-old has previously played with Scotland’s junior and senior squads, and is excited about the chance to play for his country: “I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to once again train as part of the Scottish national team” he said.

“I am looking forward to training alongside some great athletes in hope to full fill my dream of playing at the commonwealth games in 2018.”

“We’re really pleased for Dougie” said Leopards’ general manager Dave Ryan. “Obviously we’ll miss Dougie during the play-offs if he’s selected for the Game, but it’s a great opportunity for him and hopefully we’ll be back in Division One before he goes.”

Bennett and his team will return to action on Sunday January 7 when Westminster Warriors are the visitors to the Brentwood Centre, tip-off 4pm.

The Big Cats will again be running their popular pre-game training session for youngsters to learn the game with the Leopards’ players, further details on www.leopardsbasketball.co.uk or call 07828 470015.

 


Lewis on Fire in Thriller

shaq v ELAS

Dave Ryan reports…

Shaq Lewis led the way with 29 points as Levett Essex Leopards made it three straight wins with a hard-fought 94-89 victory against Middlesex LTBC, on Sunday.

A big crowd at the Brentwood Centre saw Lewis have the best game of his Leopards’ career as the Big Cats wrapped up their 2017 fixtures with a key victory which keeps them in the promotion race.

Lewis added seven rebounds in just 22 minutes, while Will Ashby finished with 22 points, eight assists and four boards in 38 minutes of action. Kevin Moyo had a season-high 17 points with captain Dougie Bennett adding 16 points, with both players also dishing out four assists.

In a high-tempo and physical game, Leopards held off a late comeback from a visiting side who had rebuilt following recent problems which saw them forfeit two games, adding American Jamal Felix who led their scoring with 22 points in as many minutes, adding seven rebounds and three assists.

Ultimately, Leopards’ ability on the fast break proved key for them as the outscored the visitors 37-12 in that category.

Bennett and Ashby both hit treys before Moyo converted a three-point play as the Big Cats rushed into an early 10-2 lead.

But the visitors fought back to take their first lead with two minutes remaining following a Talijunas free throw before a trey from Ashby and scores from Caleb Taberner and Lewis gave the Big Cats a 29-26 lead at the first break.

Middlesex opened the second period with six straight points before Lewis tied things with a trey, and the quarter proved to be a battle of attrition.

The hosts looked set for a comfortable half time lead as they were 50-45 ahead going into the final 30 seconds, but they managed to turn the ball over twice to allow Simas to convert a pair of lay-ups to cut the Big Cats’ lead to a point heading into the locker room.

shaq v tusa

Ashby drained from the Land of Plenty to open the second half but the visitors led for much of the third period and Felix put them 70-65 heading into the final three minutes before Lewis converted another dunk and hit a lay-up and Ashby tied things at 70 with a single free-throw going into the final break.

Lewis continued to be a one-man wrecking crew as he hit Leopards’ first 11 points of the fourth quarter as they opened an 81-73 lead at the midway stage of the period.

A trey from Bennett made a it a 12-point lead going into the final three minutes before Felix hit back-to-back triples before making it a five point game with 70 seconds remaining.

But, predictably it was Lewis who broke the run before Rudik and Szatkowski scored to make it 90-89 with 35 seconds on the clock.

But Szatkowski was called for an unsportsmanlike foul as he attempted to dispossess Moyo, and the young point guard hit both free-throws before sinking a jump shot to seal the win.