2021/2022 National League Matchday 35 Preview


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With Saturday comes another full round of National League fixtures, with three sides from the London & South East region all in an intense battle to make the postseason.

Here is a look ahead to all of the action involving the region’s sides.

Barnet v Woking –

Recent upturns in form from both sides have surely done enough to alleviate any lingering relegation danger, and as such both sides will be keen to put a good end to the season on.

The Bees followed up a comprehensive win over lowly Dover with an impressive triumph over high flying North London rivals Boreham Wood. Following a treacherous run of form previously, the win will have come as a shock to many a neutral, and even to Barnet fans themselves.

A goal from Ephron Mason-Clark in the opening 15 minutes was backed up with some stout defending and some excellent saves by Aston Oxborough.

Meanwhile, Woking returned to winning ways for the first time since the 22nd January with a 1-0 win over Maidenhead United last week. Whilst the loan signing of Nicke Kabamba has failed to set the world alight of yet, his quality shone through with a 94th minute winner to send the Laithwaite Community Stadium into raptures.

Dean Brennan’ Bees will be looking to win a third consecutive league match for the first time since November, whilst a win for Woking would be the first time the club have achieved back to back wins since October!

Boreham Wood v Grimsby Town –

Without a win in three, Luke Garrard’s North Londoners have surely seen any remaining hopes of winning the league quashed. In fact, the Wood are merely three points within the play-off spots, and as such could get drawn into a battle for their place in the National League postseason.

Despite a valiant showing in the FA Cup against Premier League Everton, a harrowing 4-2 defeat to Wrexham followed by a shock 1-0 loss at North London rivals Barnet have set the Wood back.

On the Contrary, their opponents, Grimsby Town, have encountered something of a purple patch as they have won six of their previous eight matches. Such form has seen the Mariners rise back into the Play-Off places after a prolonged spell on the outside looking in.

The goals of John McAtee have been a key instigator of this revival, and the successful introduction of Emmanuel Dieseruvwe (two goals in four appearances) has all but advanced Grimsby’s progression.

As such, victory for Luke Garrard’s side will be tough to come by, against one of the league’s form sides. Grimsby’s goal-scoring form has seen them score nine goals in their previous five, so the joint best defence in the league will have to be at their brilliant best to shut out their visitors.

A win for Boreham Wood could potentially take them to within a point of fourth placed Wrexham and take them closer to obtaining an automatic Semi-Final spot.

Bromley v Wrexham –

A winless run stretching back five matches has halted the Ravens’ play-off push, and as such victory over Wrexham would go to great lengths to re-instate them as a major player in the top seven.

Wins over Solihull Moors, Grimsby Town and Notts County made a great case for Bromley reaching the National League play-offs for the second successive season.

Since then, losses to Southend United, Stockport County and FC Halifax Town have halted the progress of Andy Woodman’s side.

Perhaps more concerning were the points dropped against Weymouth and Torquay United, which have also added to the accumulation of setbacks for the Kent side.

Just three goals scored in these five games will concern Woodman and his coaching staff, especially against a high-scoring outfit such as Wrexham.

The Welsh side, meanwhile, have finally started to see the form that has been expected of them all season, winning seven games on the trot in all competitions.

With a strike partnership worthy of any League Two side and even some League One outfits, there is no wonder that Wrexham have found goals so easy to come by of late.

The Dragons will hope that they can pair promotion from the National League with success in the FA Trophy, following their progression to the Semi-Finals of the competition.

Bromley will also be competing in the Semi-Finals of the FA Trophy, but the main goal is surely to progress into the National League play-off places.

There is an outside chance that a win for Bromley would lift them back into the top seven on goal difference, but the main thing is that the Lillywhites keep tags on those ahead of them in the race to the postseason.

Dagenham & Redbridge v Notts County –

To win 3-0 is a satisfying occurrence for any football team at any level. It defines a conclusive result in which one team is comfortably better than the other on the day. So, to earn a trifecta of 3-0 wins must be a sensational feeling for Daryl McMahon’s side, but the hard work does not stop there with the play-offs in touching distance for the Daggers.

Perhaps most impressive was Dagenham’s most recent conquest, in which they went to the form side in the National League in Southend United, and put on a thoroughly dominant performance. Goals from Junior Morias and Matt Robinson paired with an own goal sealed the points in front of a stunned Roots Hall crowd.

The visitors to East London will be an out of form Notts County, as the Magpies search for their first win in five. Exit from the FA Trophy at the hands of Wrexham was succeeded by a 3-0 humbling by league leaders Stockport County.

The Concession of 12 goals in County’s previous five games will have knocked the confidence of the Midlands outfit, and it is imperative that the defensive situation is sured up if they are to reach the postseason.

Although Ian Burchnall’s side are firmly out of form, they will still pose a significant threat to Dagenham, with players like Kyle Wootton and Ruben Rodrigues surely eager to strike again.

Along with Morias, Paul McCallum has also played a pivotal part in the Daggers recent success, scoring a brace in victories over Maidenhead United and Yeovil Town.

A win for the East Londoners will see them overtake their opponents and leap into 8th, with a possible induction back into the top seven also occurring if results go their way.

Dover Athletic v Yeovil Town –

Relegation has seemingly been a certainty for Dover since before this season even started, and the fact that they look as though they will complete the season having played every game is an achievement in itself.

A staggering 35 points adrift, with only 36 points available in their remaining games, the Whites would have to win each of their remaining 12 matches to even stand the slightest of chances of survival. As such, victory here would only delay the inevitable, but it would at least provide some solace for the fans, players, and all of those involved at Dover Athletic who have had to endure so much throughout this campaign.

Anything less than victory would mathematically relegate Andy Hessenthaler’s side, and as such this game has the potential to be an emotional affair for all involved.

The unfortunate party dealt with the task of relegating a fellow team from the division are Yeovil Town.

If there is currently one team that has the potential to delay Dover’s inevitable fate, it would be the Glovers.

After an impressive end to 2021, the Somerset outfit looked as though a second half play-off charge was still in the question.  However, Darren Sarll’s side have won just once this calendar year – a run that spans 15 matches.

This wretched run of form has seen Yeovil slide into the lower echelons of the form table, and their overall season tumble into obscurity.

Furthermore, there is additional hope for Dover headed into this game when memories are cast back to Huish Park in late November, where Dover picked up one of their eight points this season with a 1-1 draw thanks to a goal from Thomas James Everton Bramble. It was only an equaliser from Adi Yussuf that spared the blushes of the home side.

Dwindling attendances have been somewhat academic at the Crabble Sports Ground, but those who do attend will likely see their side condemned to their fate of a return to the National League South.

Southend United v Altrincham –

The Shrimpers have completed a turnaround of seismic proportions following a treacherous start to their first National League campaign. A run of 13 games unbeaten in the National League came to an end on Tuesday night when the Blues fell foul to the blade of the Daggers from East London.

In losing 3-0 to Dagenham, Kevin Maher’s side brought about the first reminiscence of the sides calamitous start to the season, with a disastrous own goal from Will Atkinson followed up by a stroke of bad luck as an effort from Morias ricocheted off the post and in off the back of Steve Arnold.

As the Essex side pushed to get back into the contest, they left themselves exposed to the counter attack, allowing Matt Robinson to capitalise and seal the points in front of the travelling fans.

Despite their lengthy run of positive results, Southend still find themselves 11 points outside the play-offs with 12 games left to play. As such, it is going to take another special run to force their way into the postseason during this campaign, and it will have to start with the visit of Altrincham to Roots Hall.

After a wretched festive and New Year period, the Robins have seen their own upturn in fortunes, losing just one of their last seven.

Such results have hauled Alty away from danger and to just one place below Southend in the league standings.

Furthermore, Altrincham have found goals easy to come by, coming off the back of huge 5-0 and 4-0 triumphs. The goals of Daniel Mooney and Ryan Colclough in particular have contributed to the revival of the Greater Manchester outfit.

So, despite Southend’s lengthy unbeaten run prior to the Dagenham result, Altrincham will arrive in Essex with great confidence that they continue a run of their own.

A win for Southend is unlikely to result in any upwards movement in the league standings, but Kevin Maher and Co. will hope that results above them go their way to keep the Blues on the scent of the play-off trail.

Stockport County v Wealdstone –

Two victories on identical dates (8th and 12th) in February and March have all but secured the status of the Stones as a National League outfit for another season.

An impressive 2-0 win at York Road was succeeded by triumph in a five goal thriller at Grosvenor Vale over lowly Weymouth, with Rhys Browne capping off a successful return to the side with a hat trick of goals across the two games.

That being said, the North West London club have an unfavourable run of fixtures in the final quarter of their season, facing the likes of Bromley, FC Halifax Town, Southend United and Boreham Wood. Of course, that is without mentioning their next opponents, which just so happens to be the league leaders, Stockport County.

At one point, the battle for the National League title and solitary automatic promotion spot looked as if it was going to be a narrow one, but 13 wins in 14 games for Dave Challinor’s side have placed them firmly in pole position for a return to the Football League after over a decade out.

Most recently, a dominant win over Notts County re-asserted the Hatters as THE force to be reckoned within Non-League. The goals of Patrick Madden and Oliver Crankshaw paired with the midfield prowess of Antoni Sarcevic and Will Collar only compliment the defensive solidity of Ashley Palmer and Ryan Johnson. County are now, unquestionably, the best team in the National League.

Whilst victory at Edgeley Park would do little for Wealdstone in the grand scheme of the league table, it would certainly be a feather in the cap of Stuart Maynard to take a part-time side to Stockport and leave with three points.

An overview of the fixtures involving teams from London & South East –

Barnet v Woking

Boreham Wood v Grimsby Town

Bromley v Wrexham

Dagenham & Redbridge v Notts County

Dover Athletic v Yeovil Town

Southend United v Altrincham

Stockport County v Wealdstone

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