In the race for the Ryman Premier Division it's been a terrible trio of games for Dulwich Hamlet who have dropped points against three sides in the relegation zone. Defeats at VCD Athletic and Lewes were followed up by a 2-2 draw at Champion Hill versus Farnborough yesterday. Incredibly it was only the Hampshire side's 2nd point gained on the road this season - the only other positive result for them on their travels came in a 1-1 draw away at Brentwood Town. on Saturday 5th December. If Gavin Rose's side does fall short at the end of the season it's safe to say they will look back on these games as where it went wrong.
Hampton and Richmond Brough still lead the table but they too have dropped points in their last two games in a 2-2 midweek draw at Leatherhead and a 1-1 draw away to Hendon yesterday. It could of been worse for The Beavers as they were 2-0 down at Fetcham Grove only for goals from Nicke Kabamba (68 mins) and a Moussa Diarra in the 90th minute to salvage a well earned point.
East Thurrock United are now in second place - they were 2-0 down at Canvey Island yesterday but came back to record a 2-4 win with their prolific striker Sam Higgins netting his 25th and 26th league goals of the season. Since the turn of the year they have won 23 points of 30 (76.67%) on offer which compared to Dulwich (12 from 24 - 50%) and Hampton & Richmond (15 from 24 - 62.5%) shows John Coventry's team are more than capable of finishing top which at the beginining of the season not many people would have predicted.
Tonbridge Angels and Bognor Regis Town in fourth and fifth place respectively have games in hand over the top three so have a really good chance to get involved in the title shake up. In fact The Rocks have four games in hand over Hampton and East Thurrock (due to their excellent FA Trophy run) so if they do win all of their reamining games they will have a points total of 107 and win the league!
There is now a large group of teams with play-off asspirations below the current top five - I would say Billericay Town, Kingstonian, Leiston, Enfield Town, Grays Athletic, Wingate and Finchley and Met Police all have a chance (some a better one than others) in getting up into the play-off zone.
Leiston (11 defeats), Enfield Town (13), Wingate & Finchley (13) and Met Police (12) can't afford to lose many more games if they wish to finish with a chance of promotion to the Vanarama National League South Division.
RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
CURRENT BOTTOM TWELVE
|16||BURGESS HILL TOWN||33||-7||43||82||LLDLWL|
I would say Mertsham (45 points from 35 games), Canvey Island (45 from 35), Leatherhead (44 from 32) and Burgess Hill Town (43 from 33) are comfortable in the "mid-table respectability zone" followed by Harrow Borough, Hendon, Needham Market and Staines Town who still need a few more points to keep clear of the relegation zone. VCD Athletic (with their recent good form) and Brentwood Town (with many games in hand) have a chance of finishing outside of the bottom four but for Farnborough and Lewes it now looks very tough if they are going to avoid the big drop - I stand to be corrected of course!
The bookmakers agree and now make Hampton 5/2 favourites followed by East Thurrock at 7/2, Tonbridge Angels at 4/1, Bognor Regis Town at 6/1 and Dulwich Hamlet at 7/1.
GOLDEN BOOT LEAGUE
|26||SAM HIGGINS (East Thurrock)|
|22||JASON PRIOR (Bognor Regis Town)|
|18||MARTIN TUOHY (Canvey Island)|
|17||DUMEBI DUMAKA (Grays Athletic)|
FORTHCOMING KEY FIXTURES
Wednesday 17th February
GRAYS ATHLETIC v TONBRIDGE ANGELS
A tough midweek away trip for The Angels. Both teams need a win for differing reasons. The home side to keep in touch with their chance of a play-off place and the visitors to move closer to their title rivals.
Saturday 20th February
BRENTWOOD TOWN v DULWICH HAMLET
Hamlet manager Gavin Rose would of expected more than two points from the nine available against relegation threatened VCD Atlhetic, Lewes and Farnborough in their last three games. Here they visit Brentwood Town the fourth team currently in the drop zone. Brentwood, who are unbeaten in four games (three draws and a win), play Leiston at home in midweek prior to this game.
EAST THURROCK UNITED v BOGNOR REGIS TOWN
A massive game as The Rooks take on The Rocks - two teams who have title ambitions. The visitors have six wins their last six games with the home side having one defeat in their last six games. ETU host the Met Police on Tuesday evening prior to this game.
KINGSTONIAN v TONBRIDGE ANGELS
Another tough away day for the Kent side who visit play-off chasing Kingstonian whose last league defeat came on Saturday 9th January against leader's Hampton and Richmond Borough.
Saturday 27th February
TheColdEnd has unofficially given this day the title of 'BIG GAME SATURDAY'
DULWICH HAMLET v EAST THURROCK UNITED
The big games keep coming for East Thurrock United. Their supporters will be vastly outnumbered by Dulwich's large support at Champion Hill - There should be well over 1,000 fans in South London watching this one. A must win game for both sides.
TONBRIDGE ANGELS v HAMPTON & RICHMOND BOROUGH
Another massive and must win game between two of the current top five and title challengers. Dropped points here could be very important at the business end of the season.
Tuesday 1st March
TONBRIDGE ANGELS v BOGNOR REGIS TOWN
The Rocks could come into this game as FA Trophy Semi-Finalists as they play either Macclesfield Town or Torquay United in the Quarter-Final on Saturday 27th February. Could it be a case of After The Lord Mayor's Show?
Saturday 5th March
EAST THURROCK UNITED v TONBRIDGE ANGELS
If The Angels get nine points from the three games versus Hampton, Bognor and East Thurrock they will be one of the favourites for the league title come 5pm on Saturday 5th March. A victory for the home side and dropped points in the previous games could see Angels turn from title contenders to fighting in the race for the play-offs.
Saturday 12th March
BILLERICAY TOWN v DULWICH HAMLET
No teams relish visiting Billericay who are always play physical which has got them many good results this season.