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Who are we going to play next season?

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Who are we going to play next season? Empty Who are we going to play next season?

Post by Roy D Hacksaw Sun Mar 27, 2022 7:18 pm

After a couple of years' break for the obvious reasons, I've been holding off on putting this all together this year, mainly because it was all looking a bit iffy at the bottom of the table. But at the behest of our dear Comrade, and in a bout of footballing positivity, I thought it was about time we took a look at what new teams could be joining us in the National League South next season (for that is clearly where we are going to stay!)

With the division's numbers being bumped up a few next term, we're only losing one team from the bottom this season, which means we could well be getting a bigger batch of new friends to play with in 2022/23.

First up, let's look at those coming down from above. Our old mates Dover Athletic have been in dire straights all season, and despite their bizarre 6-5 game at Wrexham yesterday, have never looked close to making up the 12 points they were docked before the start of the season. So they're definitely down - although whether they'll actually stop off in our league or descend even further down the pyramid is as yet unknown.

Weymouth also look in big trouble, nine points shy of safety and in poor form. But in the third and final relegation slot, Kings Lynn Town have been on the up over the last few games, and may well drag themselves to safety if they manage to close the seven point gap to Aldershot Town, who are looking very shaky. And as weird as it may sound, there's an outside chance that the Linnets could be joining us in the South if they do make the drop, as the relegation border map kicks up a bit to the East - although with the other teams in contention being steadfastly South, this probably won't happen. Eastleigh in 19th are 13 points clear from the relegation slots, so are almost certainly safe.

Next we'll have a look downstairs at who could be joining us from below. The Isthmian league title looks cut-and-dried, as Worthing have had a big lead for most of the season and are currently ten points clear. Who'll be joining them, however, is a much more unpredictable shout. Bishop's Stortford (75 points), Enfield Town (74 points) and Hornchurch (71 points) are all looking good for the play-offs, but there's still a few in with a chance of that fourth and final place. Folkestone Invicta currently sit fifth with 67 points, but breathing down their necks are Lewes (64), Cheshunt (59), Kingstonian (56) and Margate on 55. Behind them, Carshalton Athletic are probably just that little too far behind on 52 points - but there's always someone who comes in on a late run, so we shouldn't entirely rule them out just yet.

The Southern League is an entirely different matter, though, as there's all sorts of possible permutations still in the mix. As it stands there's only two points between first and fourth, with the Metropolitan Police the current leaders on 77 points. However, Taunton Town (featuring Bath old boys Ben Adelsbury, Ross Stern and Lloyd James) are sitting just a point behind them, with two games in hand and a vastly superior goal difference, while both Hayes & Yeading United and Dave Pratt's Farnborough are nipping at their heels on 75 points.

That pair are nine points clear of the final play-off slot, so all looks good for them at least extending their season a tad. But there's a fair bit going on just behind them. The accursed Weston-super-Mare are currently sitting in the final play-off berth on 66 points, so we can look forward to a few more cancelled Christmas games if they come up again. But just behind them sit Chesham United (65), and Yate Town (60), who haven't looked quite so good since we nicked their best striker. Behind them are the familiar old faces of Gosport Borough on 59, Truro City on 55 and Poole Town, also on 55. Walton Casuals on 53 are probably just a little too far out of it to be fully in contention.

So amongst that little lot there's some potentially interesting new faces, and a few old adversaries that we perhaps hoped that we wouldn't be seeing again for a while.

Obviously, clearly, we'll be staying up. But in the totally unlikely (fingers crossed) event of our dropping down a division for a bit, at least we'd get to visit a few interesting places like Tiverton Town, Beaconsfield Town, Salisbury and Hartley Wintney - and depending on how promotion from the second tier goes there's an outside chance we could be playing Frome Town and Bristol Manor Farm too - imagine all us lot crammed into The Creek! Well it would make a change from all those endless away trips around the M25!

But no, let's look on the bright side and look forward to all those potential trips to the seaside in the National League South next season!


Last edited by Roy D Hacksaw on Sun Apr 24, 2022 2:09 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by SteveBradley Mon Mar 28, 2022 1:21 pm

As an aside, I went to Carshalton v Hornchurch on Saturday for Non-League Day, and Hornchurch destroyed them 5-0. On the basis of what I saw there is no chance of Carshalton putting a late rally together to get into the promotion slots. Conversely Hornchurch have got some fast players and are quite a physical squad. Plus Carshalton held Hornchurch to a score draw away just 3 weeks earlier. So i wouldn't be surprised if Hornchurch are the ones on a run and who make an impression in the play-offs*

*(Though doubtless that means I've jinxed them now Very Happy )

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Post by 2weirdtown Mon Mar 28, 2022 2:10 pm

Just what the Nat South needs - another Essex Club.
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Post by comrade powell Mon Apr 04, 2022 3:09 pm

From the perspective of away trips, my wishes...

Weymouth - big positive as we need more western teams in this league. The negative is that it's usually an evening fixture (unless Chipp went up and they became our festive opponents, although the Terras would more likely be paired with Taunton if they're promoted)
Dover - would become our furthest away trip (assuming that Lynn don't join us) but we've had some great battles with them over the years. Although Dover as a town is really hard to like, the ground is a few miles out in River, which is delightful.
Worthing is a slow trip whether by road or train. Presumably they've done their ground up since three of us visited some years ago to see Rello's Wales (including Coupey, Gethin and Harris) play Ireland.
Please, not Bish or Hornchurch! Although the latter would give us the chance to atone for a dreadful performance on our only previous visit. The letter of complaint to Manda Rigby from the Supporters Club prompted an unbeaten run to that season!  
Of the other Ryman hopefuls, Cheshunt and Enfield don't appeal and Folkestone is almost as far as Dover. So my vote goes for Lewes which is a nice town and the Dripping Pan ground is a curio.
From the Southern Taunton are looking a good bet. A pity about the town but it's another local game as would be WsM or Yate. Of the others, I've always enjoyed our trips to Chesham.
There certainly is the potential for less of a SE bias next season but sod law says the 4 coming up will be Met Police, Hayes, Bish and Enfield.
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Post by Luton Roman Mon Apr 04, 2022 4:43 pm

Banbury have already won the Southern Premier Central but will go NLN. Its Worthing for sure, Taunton hopefully and 2 from the play offs.

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Post by Roy D Hacksaw Sun Apr 24, 2022 1:12 pm

So now that we're mathematically safe, and the two divisions below us have completed their normal seasons, it'll probably be worth having another look at who we're going to most definitely be playing next season, and who's still in with a chance of a promotion via the play-offs.

The best news is that Taunton Town finally won the Southern League Premier South with 91 points, and will definitely be making a league trip up our way next term. But will our overlords make them our new Christmas opponents?

Below them in the play-off, in order, are Hayes & Yeading United (which will at least be a new ground, despite them being familiar foes) on 86 points, Farnborough on 85, Metropolitan Police on 81 and Weston-super-Meh on 78. I'm kind of hopping on the Rozzers for novelty factor alone - and definitely not the Mud, who are bound to mess up our Christmas again if they make it.

Moving over to the Isthmian, Worthing won as expected by ten clear points (on 97), so that'll be another nice (long) trip to the seaside. Behind them sat occasional foes Bishops Stortford (87), Enfield Town (84), Hornchurch (81) and Cheshunt (76). Every one of them is another dreary M4/M25 trudge, I'm afraid. But I'd favour Enfield, 'cos at least we could enjoy their beautiful art deco stand (even if it is miles from the pitch!)

So who is joining us in the drop from above? Dover Athletic have finally reached with magic zero point mark for the season and will definitely make the drop. There was some concern that they might not even exist next season, but they're selling season tickets already, so they can probably renew their bewildering angry rivalry with us.

Above them, Weymouth can still mathematically escape the drop. But sitting 13 points shy of safety with 15 left to play for, we can probably place that in the unlikely pile and get ready to welcome them back after their brief trip up top. The only relegation spot left up for grabs sees Kings Lynn Town sit seven points behind Aldershot Town - although The Shots have two games in hand, which means The Linnets will have to have an amazing last three games and hope the team above them falter an all five of theirs. Eastleigh still aren't mathematically safe, either. But at nine points clear of Lynn and with a superior goal difference we can probably assume they're safe.

As our league is bumping up to 24 clubs next season, that should just about be the size of it. Kings Lynn, strictly speaking, should come South, looking at the traditional National League buffer zone, but that's pretty unlikely to happen, given that they're the Northernmost of the 25 clubs who would qualify for our division next year, so they'll be almost certain to head north. If the unlikely does happen, though, and Aldershot make the drop, then Braintree Town are currently the furthest North in our group and may have to make the swap up North - that is if Oxford City don't volunteer for a return to their old league.

So then, we'll have some new places to visit, some familiar old faces returning, and quite a few trips to the seaside. It didn't turn out too bad in the end, considering.

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Post by LB Sun Apr 24, 2022 5:02 pm

Another excellent analysis by Roy. I think Dover's 'bewilderingly angry rivalry' that he refers to dates back to the 89/90 season when although we finished second to them we were promoted because their ground wasn't up to Conference standard (even though they had had plenty of time to put it right).

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Post by Dave Sun Apr 24, 2022 5:30 pm

Personally would prefer Weston to win the Playoffs, the less M25 trips the better. If anything Weston coming up would benefit our Christmas schedule rather than hinder it as they'd be likely to be paired with Taunton.

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Post by Roy D Hacksaw Sun Apr 24, 2022 6:43 pm

LB wrote:I think Dover's 'bewilderingly angry rivalry' that he refers to dates back to the 89/90 season when although we finished second to them we were promoted because their ground wasn't up to Conference standard (even though they had had plenty of time to put it right).

Exactly that. I met a Dover fan at a B&B in Blackpool once, who, when I mentioned I was a Bath fan, repeatedly referred to that very incident every morning over breakfast. Apparently they still sing angry songs about us on the terraces from time to time, too.

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Post by comrade powell Sun Apr 24, 2022 10:51 pm

What really riled the Dover fans was that our chairman of the time, Frank Entwhistle, was a member of the Southern League management committee and in their eyes was instrumental in the decision. Apparently he didn’t take part in the vote.
Not long afterwards our grandstand was victim of the Bristol arsonists and the Club received a donation of a few pence from the River End at Dover!
It was a few years before our paths crossed again - it was quite a poisonous atmosphere at the Crabble which made our 3-0 win even more enjoyable!
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Post by comrade powell Sun Apr 24, 2022 10:54 pm

If WSM don’t come up I’d imagine Taunton will be paired with Weymouth for the festive fixtures which would leave Havant as the club with a non derby. Either way I’m sure we’ll play Chippenham.
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Post by threeday week Tue Apr 26, 2022 10:52 pm

WSM lose to Hayes and yeading
Farnborough beat MET police

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Post by Luton Roman Wed Apr 27, 2022 10:12 pm

2 away wins in the Istmian play off semis as Cheshunt win 3-2 at Stortford, and Hornchurch win 3-2 at Enfield with 2 late goals.

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Post by Luton Roman Mon May 02, 2022 5:15 pm

Cmon in Cheshunt and Farnborough.

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Post by comrade powell Mon May 02, 2022 5:19 pm

Cheshunt away is good for you, Farnborough away is good for me!
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Post by Luton Roman Mon May 02, 2022 5:25 pm

comrade powell wrote:Cheshunt away is good for you, Farnborough away is good for me!

Cheshunt look big and physical, so should do well !

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Post by stillmanjunior Mon May 02, 2022 10:02 pm

Surely they’ve spruced the ground up since our last visit? It was in a real state and surprised they were allowed in the Southern League let alone NLS. While back now so they must have improved it.
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Post by Luton Roman Tue May 03, 2022 12:52 pm

stillmanjunior wrote:Surely they’ve spruced the ground up since our last visit? It was in a real state and surprised they were allowed in the Southern League let alone NLS. While back now so they must have improved it.

I've kept an eye on them as I used to sell programmes there back in the day when the family home was close by, they're making steady progress, ground has improved though still modest by NLS standards. Community reach out has been key, youth and women's teams in place, Craig Edwards the manager knows the NLS through various Essex clubs, Preston Edwards in goal and Rowan Liburd, a beast up front, have NLS experience, they will be no nonsense for sure.

Good run in the Trophy this season, winning 3-0 at St.Albans before bowing out similarly at Stockport. Core supporter group the Ultras are noisy, passionate but welcoming. Crowds increasing but still averaging below 400. Unexpected step up for them, will be interesting to see how they react and recruit given proximity to London. Ground very close to M25 and Theobalds Grove station, on the Liverpool Street line, a short walk away

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Post by comrade powell Tue May 03, 2022 2:22 pm

comrade powell wrote:Cheshunt away is good for you, Farnborough away is good for me!

The problem is that with 3 extra clubs there will be more midweek games (unless they extend the season). Assuming that we keep Chippenham as Christmas/NY opponents if they don't go up, I wouldn't be surprised if at least three of Weymouth, Taunton, Farnborough, Hungerford and Oxford are midweek.
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Post by SteveBradley Wed May 04, 2022 11:17 pm

comrade powell wrote:
comrade powell wrote:Cheshunt away is good for you, Farnborough away is good for me!

The problem is that with 3 extra clubs there will be more midweek games (unless they extend the season). Assuming that we keep Chippenham as Christmas/NY opponents if they don't go up, I wouldn't be surprised if at least three of Weymouth, Taunton, Farnborough, Hungerford and Oxford are midweek.

Is the National League taking a break for the Autumn World Cup too ?

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Post by PHILB1973# Thu May 05, 2022 3:32 am

As far as I know it just goes down to the championship level.
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Post by Dave Sat May 21, 2022 11:53 pm

Can't imagine there'll be any AGM Cup surprises, next season's lineup now likely to be

Bath City
Braintree Town
Chelmsford City
Cheshunt
Chippenham Town
Concord Rangers
Dartford
Dover Athletic
Dulwich Hamlet
Eastbourne Borough
Ebbsfleet United
Farnborough
Hampton & Richmond Borough
Havant & Waterlooville
Hemel Hempstead Town
Hungerford Town
Oxford City
Slough Town
St Albans City
Taunton Town
Tonbridge Angels
Welling United
Weymouth
Worthing

Would imagine the Christmas pairings could be

Taunton / Weymouth

Us / Chippenham

Oxford / Hungerford

Havant / Farnborough

Worthing / Eastbourne

Slough / Hampton

Hemel / St Albans

Braintree / Chelmsford

Ebbsfleet / Concord

Welling / Dartford

Cheshunt / Dulwich

Tonbridge / Dover

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Post by SteveBradley Sun May 22, 2022 3:35 pm

Dave wrote:Can't imagine there'll be any AGM Cup surprises, next season's lineup now likely to be

Bath City
Braintree Town
Chelmsford City
Cheshunt
Chippenham Town
Concord Rangers
Dartford
Dover Athletic
Dulwich Hamlet
Eastbourne Borough
Ebbsfleet United
Farnborough
Hampton & Richmond Borough
Havant & Waterlooville
Hemel Hempstead Town
Hungerford Town
Oxford City
Slough Town
St Albans City
Taunton Town
Tonbridge Angels
Welling United
Weymouth
Worthing

Would imagine the Christmas pairings could be

Taunton / Weymouth

Us / Chippenham

Oxford / Hungerford

Havant / Farnborough

Worthing / Eastbourne

Slough / Hampton

Hemel / St Albans

Braintree / Chelmsford

Ebbsfleet / Concord

Welling / Dartford

Cheshunt / Dulwich

Tonbridge / Dover

At least we'll start the season top of the table Very Happy

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Post by City 'til we're relegated Mon May 23, 2022 12:00 pm

That would give us four or five games within spitting distance.

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