Sunday 3 March 2024


With one win in their last ten league games and being thirteen points from safety it's looking very much like The Hoops debut season at non-league's top table will end in relegation back down to Step Two. For a club who had to drop out of Senior Football in 1988 following the loss of their ground. They returned in 1990 playing in the South Midlands League Division One alongside Ickleford, Sandy Albion and Potters Bar Crusaders so it's a huge achievement to play in the Vanarama National League for the 23/24 season. 

The question many fans will be asking is Will it be the North or South Division they play in for the 24/25 campaign? Following promotion from the Southern League in 2012 they played in the North Division until 2015 when they moved to the South Division. 

City have seven wins from their thirty-seven games played so far which have come at home against Boreham Wood (4-0), Hartlepool United (5-2), AFC Fylde (3-0), Woking (3-2) and Ebbsfleet United (1-0). 

They have just two away wins both at fellow struggler's Ebbsfleet United (0-4) and Dorking Wanderers (0-2)

They have let in seventy-nine goals which equates to 2.14 per game. 

23rd - WOKING 
Manager Darren Sarll took The Cards to the lofty heights of fourth place (losing to Bromley in the play-off QF) in his first full season with the club in 22/23 but departed the club in November following a poor run of results. 

Michael Doyle, most well known for his playing career with Coventry City and Sheffield United, was appointed new boss in December. He previously been on the coaching team at Notts County and Forest Green Rovers alongside Ian Burchnall as well as within the academy system as Portsmouth. 

Could their 3-2 win over Gateshead last Tuesday evening be a turning point as they came back from 1-2 down with two late goals to win three important points? 

Their starting XI against The Heed featured some new signings made recently. Midfielder Curtis Edwards who has recently been playing in Sweden and Norway. Striker Charley Kendall, who has recently been on loan with Sutton United, Bromley and Dagenham & Redbridge, has joined from Lincoln City. Defender Max Dyche has joined on loan from Northampton Town having been on loan with Aldershot Town earlier in the season.

Saturday's scheduled game at home to Kidderminster Harriers fell victim to the weather with their next game being away Altrincham next weekend. 

The Harriers who are back in non-league's top division after seven seasons in the North Division. There was no room for sentiment for Manager Russel Penn who parted company with the club in early January with a record of just 4 wins from their first 28 league games. He has recently joined Step Three side Halesowen Town as Manager. 

The experienced Phil Brown was appointed as Manager contracted until the end of the season. The former Bolton Wanderers, Hull City, Derby County, Preston NE, Southend United, Swindon Town, Hyderabad and Barrow AFC boss has made a real impact at Aggborough as you'll see from the below form comparison which if it continues they will finish well above the drop zone.


21st - YORK CITY 
The Minstermen narrowly avoided relegation last season finishing in 19th place just 3 points above the drop zone - this was their first campaign back at Step One after a five season stay in the Vanarama North division.  

Since their promotion at the end of the 21/22 season they have had John Askey, David Webb, Michael Morton and Neal Ardley in the Manager's seat. Ardley recently departed after only being boss since September. 

They have recruited Adam Hinshelwood from South Division Worthing - He had taken the South-Coast club from the Isthmian Premier Division and established them as one of the best clubs at Step Two.  

It was a huge weekend for Hinshelwood's first game in charge as they welcomed Wealdstone to The LNER Community Stadium for a massive 'six pointer'. The Stones came away with a 2-3 victory which ended a run of six games without a win for the Middlesex club.

The Wanderers flirted with relegation in their first season in The Vanarama National Division last year eventually finishing 9 points clear of the drop zone thanks to 7 wins, 3 draws and just 3 defeats in their last 13 games. 

Their amazing 4-1 victory over table topper's and champion's elect Chesterfield on Saturday was a huge example of what many of their fan's say 'Never write off The Wanderers' 

They below is a comparison of their record now and last season which shows them four points better off compared to last season.

22/23 18 8 4 6 17 2 3 12 35 10 7 18 50-78 -28 37 19/24
23/24 19 6 2 11 16 6 3 7 35 12 5 18 43-58 -15 41 20/24

The Magpies have sailed close to the wind in respect of relegation several times since their promotion to The National League in 2017. For a club with their resources with a history of playing in The Isthmian League they have done amazingly well to stay at non-league's top table for seven seasons under the astute management of Alan Devonshire. 

In the 19/20 season they finished in the drop zone but were reprieved from relegation as a result of Bury's expulsion from the football league and last season finished two points above the drop zone. 

They were well beaten 4-1 by AFC Fylde at the weekend. The results of their next two games at home to Dorking Wanderers (next Saturday) and Hartlepool United on Tuesday 12th March could shape what division they will be playing in for the 24/25 campaign. 

The Stones have changed their Manager this season but not by sacking their old boss. Stuart Maynard moved up to full time management in the football league with Notts County with his coaching team also making the move to Meadow Lane. 

David Noble made the move upwards from South Division St Albans City and has since won two, drawn three and lost three of eight league games as well as moving in The Isuzu FA Trophy Quarter-Final for the first time since the 17/18 season.

Their 2-3 win at York City could be a really important result for their season but they will need to follow this up with another win in their away game at Southend United on Tuesday evening to move away from the drop zone. 

They follow the game at Roots Hall with their Trophy Quarter-Final at home to Solihull Moors next weekend. 

17th - AFC FYLDE 
The Coasters are another club to have changed management with former Carlisle United boss Chris Beech, who was Director of Football, taking over in October when Adam Murray left. Since Beech has come in as Head Coach AFC's results have improved with midfielder Nick Haughton, who has been with the club since 2018, in great form. Here's a comparison of form which shows since Beech has come in the Lancashire club has a very impressive PPG total of 2.75 per game.  


Only one of the four promoted clubs from last season are left with the same Manager as The Fleet have also seen a change in the dugout. Dennis Kutireb had been in place since the summer of 2020 but left in January following their 1-0 defeat at Oxford City. The German went from leading the Kent club to the Vanarama South title in the 22/23 season to being sacked just a few months later. It's a clear indication of the pressure clubs are under to stay in non-league's top division. 

Danny Searle came in as Interim Manager and was appointed a permanent basis in February. The 45 year old has previous experience as Aldershot Town and Braintree Town in The National League as well as Waterford FC in the League of Ireland. 

Like many other clubs who have made a change to their coaching staff results have improved for The Fleet who are unbeaten in six games with two draws and four wins in a row. 

I would say right up to Hartlepool United who are currently in 10th place could be danger of relegation. Kevin Phillips took over at Manager with the former football league side in January after former York City boss John Askey left the club after just under a year in charge. 

How close it will be is indicated in the fact that if two games were left to play with the current league standings any club from 11th placed Eastleigh could go down. 

10.  HARTLEPOOL UNITED 6 3 1 2 11 9 +2 10
11.  EASTLEIGH 6 2 1 3 12 12 0 7
12. SOUTHEND UNITED 6 3 2 1 9 5 +4 11
13. ROCHDALE 6 1 1 4 8 11 -3 4
14.  DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE 6 2 2 2 14 8 +6 8
15.  BOREHAM WOOD  6 3 1 2 9 6 +3 10
16.  EBBSFLEET UNITED 6 4 2 0 12 4 +8 14
17.  AFC FYLDE  6 3 1 2 15 12 +3 10
18.  WEALDSTONE 6 1 2 3 7 12 -5 5
19.  MAIDENHEAD UNITED 6 1 0 5 7 13 -6 3
20.  DORKING WANDERERS 6 2 1 3 8 11 -3 7
21.  YORK CITY 6 1 2 3 5 8 -3 5
22.  KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS 6 4 1 1 7 5 +2 13
23.  WOKING  6 2 2 2 8 7 +1 8
24.  OXFORD CITY  6 0 1 5 4 20 -16 1

Altrincham v Dorking Wanderers 
Barnet v Rochdale 
Gateshead v Solihull Moors 
Oldham Athletic v Bromley 
Southend United v Wealdstone 
Woking v Kidderminster Harriers 
York City v AFC Fylde 

Woking v Kidderminster Harriers (23rd v 22nd) is a huge game for both sides as is York City (21st) versus AFC Fylde (17th). 

Aldershot Town v Oldham Athletic 
Altrincham v Woking 
Chesterfield v AFC Fylde
FC Halifax Town v Boreham Wood 
Kidderminster Harriers v York City 
Maidenhead United v Dorking Wanderers 
Rochdale v Oxford City 
Southend United v Dagenham & Redbridge 

Aldershot Town v Ebbsfleet United 
Altrincham v York City 
Barnet v Eastleigh 
Chesterfield v Oxford City 
FC Halifax Town v Oldham Athletic 
Gateshead v Dagenham & Redbridge 
Kidderminster Harriers v AFC Fylde 
Maidenhead United v Hartlepool United 
Rochdale v Woking 
Solihull Moors v Boreham Wood 
Southend United v Dorking Wanderers 
Wealdstone v Bromley 

AFC Fylde v Wealdstone 
Boreham Wood v Altrincham
Bromley v Kidderminster Harriers
Dagenham & Redbridge v Maidenhead United
Dorking Wanderers v Solihull Moors
Eastleigh v Rochdale 
Ebbsfleet United v Gateshead
Hartlepool United v Southend United 
Oldham Athletic v Chesterfield 
Woking v Barnet 
York City v Aldershot Town 

Oxford City v FC Halifax Town

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