2021/2022 Vanarama National League Matchday 43 Preview: London & South East


The Vanarama National League is rapidly approaching its climax, and with sparse games in hand to be played, Woking and Wealdstone prepare for their final home games of the season whilst Dagenham & Redbridge travel to play-off hound Solihull Moors in a last chance saloon game to keep their hopes of the postseason alive.

Bromley v Dover Athletic 

Bromley’s campaign will likely go down as a missed opportunity, with the Kent side spending large periods of the first half of the season occupying the top seven, and even placing as high as 4th in March, before a ten-match run without a win saw them drop out of the play-off running.

Now, with little more to play for outside pride and a top ten finish, the Ravens gear up for their penultimate home game of the season before their re-arranged clash with Altrincham at Hayes Lane.

Their opponents are the Whites of Dover, who have just two games left to avoid finishing on zero points.

Despite the dire state that the club has found itself in, the level of effort has not wavered, with Dover’s performances improving on a weekly basis, and far superior opponents failing to finish them off in recent weeks.

Andy Hessenthaler has remained positive throughout, aware of the restraints his squad have, truly reflecting the club’s off-field issues.

Andy Woodman’s Bromley side failed to capitalise on their impressive win over Chesterfield, succumbing in a 3-0 loss to Neal Ardley’s flying Solihull outfit. Goals from Adam Rooney, Joe Sbarra and Andrew Dallas condemned Bromley to mathematic elimination from the play-off race.

On the other hand, Dover put in a gallant performance at Meadow Lane, reducing Notts County to a singular goal in a 1-0 defeat.

A win for Bromley could see them rise above Torquay United into the top 10, whereas a defeat to the league’s basement side would be a true reflection of the enormity of the Ravens’ capitulation this season.

As for Dover, they will look to capitalise on a Bromley outfit lacking confidence to get a result that would move them off the official ‘mark’ in this campaign.

Solihull Moors v Dagenham & Redbridge 

The ‘biggest game of the season” label gets thrown around all too often, but in this instance perhaps it does not go far enough to exemplify the importance of this fixture for Dagenham & Redbridge.

A season marred with inconsistency has resulted in the Daggers spending a considerable amount of time outside the top seven, but a run of seven games unbeaten have breathed life back into Daryl McMahon’s side, but the East Londoners must topple one of the form sides in the league in Solihull Moors if they are to keep their play-off hopes alive headed into the final day.

Solihull experienced a mediocre start to the season by their high standards, spending most of their time in mid-table heading into the new year. However, a remarkable 18 game unbeaten streak has catapulted the Moors into the top seven and even sees the Midlands side challenging for a home semi-final slot.

In fact, Solihull’s 1-0 loss away at league leaders Stockport County was only their second loss of 2022.

As such, there are very few tougher opponents for Dagenham to come up against in a game of this magnitude, and some Daggers fans may hark back to the disappointing home draws against Kings Lynn Town and Torquay United that have created this ultimatum.

Such a game could prove vital to the future of the Daggers, with key players such as Junior Morias and Paul McCallum likely to be in high demand. Play-off football could be the difference between convincing such players to leave or losing them to rival clubs.

A win for Dagenham could put them level on points with Chesterfield headed into the final day, though if Chesterfield win their game then the Daggers will require a final day victory by a considerable margin, paired with a Chesterfield loss.

Defeat would be the definitive end of the season for McMahon’s outfit.

Wealdstone v Kings Lynn Town 

Wealdstone will look to finish their season on a high with their final home game of the season at Grosvenor Vale against relegated Kings Lynn Town.

The first half of the season was a struggle for the Stones, picking up just 17 points heading into 2022. However, a vital win over Dover in January was succeeded by the Londoners picking up back-to-back wins in the months of February, March and April.

Such results have secured Stuart Maynard’s side their National League status for a third successive season in the division. For a part-time outfit working with a small budget, this has been considered by many to be a great achievement, and the fans will be delighted to see their side survive in their first National League season with fans present.

Their counterparts have not encountered such fortune, however. Having received reprieval due to Covid circumstances last season, the Linnets have endured a disappointing campaign, and are destined to return to the National League North.

In their previous outing, the Stones ground out a gritty 0-0 draw away at Yeovil Town despite being reduced to ten men before half-time thanks to the dismissal of Alex Dyer.

Star striker Joshua Umerah has been a focal point for Wealdstone’s success this season, bagging 14 goals in 41 appearances, including three in his last six.

Kings Lynn have enjoyed somewhat of a revival, albeit belatedly so with Tommy Widrington’s side picking up points in eight of their last 11 games.

In the Linnets’ previous outing, they showed what they are capable of as they comfortably dismissed Woking by 3-0 at the Laithwaite Community Stadium. Goals from Tyler Denton, Ken Charles and the in-form Gold Omotayo secured three points that confirmed their 21st place finish for the second consecutive season. Their trip to Grosvenor Vale will be their final outing of the season, and consequently the curtain-closer on their stay in the top tier of Non-League football.

Wealdstone will be hoping that against relegated opposition they can give their home fans a send-off representative of what has been a good season for the Londoners. Victory for Wealdstone could see them rise to 16th, whereas defeat may see them drop to 18th.

Weymouth v Barnet 

The Bees will travel to the Dorset coastline for their final away trip of the 2021/2022 campaign as they take on an already relegated Weymouth side.

Barnet have enjoyed some rough spells this season, but despite the worrying signs of the previous campaign have maintained their National League status.

After a wretched run of four consecutive defeats in which Dean Brennan’s side conceded 18 goals, the North Londoners have salvaged some form, picking up a last gasp victory at Eastleigh before solid draws against Grimsby Town and Altrincham.

Adam Marriott has been picking up a lot of attention from around the league with his terrific form in 2022, scoring 12 times this calendar year, including five in his last four.

One would assume that the 31-year-old may be licking his lips at the prospect of playing a Weymouth side that have leaked goals for fun, conceding 32 in their last 13 and 85 across the span of the campaign.

Despite a positive first season in the National League last season where the Terras survived legitimately with a comfortable 18th place finish, the fans have not witnessed such success, with their side picking up just 25 points in 42 games.

A return to the National League South is imminent, and this will be Weymouth’s last game in the division at the Bob Lucas Stadium for this season. The Terras have failed to muster a win in their last 14 matches, dating back to their 1-0 win over Eastleigh in February at the BLS.

A win for Barnet could lift them two places into 16th, with a defeat leaving the door open for Eastleigh to overthrow them in 18th with one game to go, should the Spitfires be successful at Woking.

Woking v Eastleigh 

Darren Sarll’s Cardinals will hope to bow out on a high in their last home game of the season as they welcome an out of form Eastleigh side.

Woking have endured a rollercoaster of a season, after starting with some promise before a run of two wins in 15 games saw their campaign take a nosedive. Alan Dowson paid for such a run with his job and was sacked after Woking’s 2-0 loss at home to Notts County, which was the club’s fifth defeat in seven.

Following this, the Surrey side were under the interim stewardship of Ian Dyer, who guided them to three consecutive victories against Maidenhead United, Barnet and Weymouth. However, such a run did not waver the clubs desire to bring in a proven replacement, and heads were turned when the Cardinals were able to lure away  Sarll from Yeovil Town, a team who were in the football league as recently as 2019 and finished in the play-offs in their maiden National League campaign.

Since Sarll’s appointment, however, form has been mixed, with three wins and three defeats. The high of the 2-1 victory over Wrexham at the LCS quickly dissipated after the disappointment of the Kings Lynn performance just nine days later.

Eastleigh have suffered an equally treacherous season, with the dismissal of Ben Strevens taking place after the Spitfires handed Dover Athletic their first league win of the season.

Following this, assistant manager Jason Bristow took interim charge of the Hampshire outfit, failing to register a win in any of his seven matches in charge.

After Lee Bradbury’s appointment, Eastleigh’s form has not seen much further improvement, with a victory over Wealdstone and a Hampshire derby win his only successes in his first 12 games in charge.

Thankfully for the Spitfire fans, their tally from the first half of the season has been enough to keep them afloat despite relegation form in 2022.

Woking’s set-piece specialist Max Kretzschmar has proven a key figure in the Cardinals’ transition period, scoring four in his last seven.

Should Woking emerge victorious, they could see themselves rise as high as 13th headed into the final day.

Yeovil Town v Boreham Wood 

The Wood travel to Huish Park with only a victory enough to keep their play-off hopes on life support.

Boreham Wood were, at one point, a seeming certainty for the play-offs and were one of the bookie’s favourites to join what will likely be Stockport County in the Football League.

However, a catastrophic run of ten games without a win has all but condemned the North Londoners to another season of National League football. A win over Bromley preceded a shock win away at Edgeley Park against Stockport, but it may be too little too late for Luke Garrard’s side.

Yeovil Town have experienced another mixed campaign, and for the second season running have failed to challenge for the play-offs. The departure of Darren Sarll to Woking has left the direction of the club unknown, with Charlie Lee currently in interim charge.

Boreham Wood’s last outing was a hard-earned 1-1 draw with high-flying Wrexham, with a 90th minute Tyrone Marsh penalty cancelling out Paul Mullin’s first-half strike.

Meanwhile, the Glovers were held to a 0-0 draw at Huish Park in their last game despite Wealdstone being reduced to ten men. Now, the Somerset side have one last chance of victory at home before bowing out for the season away at Altrincham. Should they be successful, they could rise into the top half, whereas defeat could see Lee’s outfit fall as low as 15th.

A win for Boreham Wood will only keep the North Londoner’s hopes of the play-offs alive if Chesterfield fail to beat Torquay United in what will be the early kick-off. As a result, the Wood players, staff and fans will know what is at stake for them prior to kick-off.

With so little time left in the 2021/2022 campaign, teams are scrambling for every last point and even if teams have nothing to play for, many players are playing for contracts or, even playing for moves.

Dagenham & Redbridge and Boreham Wood remain the only hope for a London & South East region side to reach the play-offs, and the latter could well be mathematically eliminated from the running should they fail to win at Plainmoor.

Here is a full listing of all Matchday 45 fixtures involving the region’s teams –

Bromley v Dover Athletic

Solihull Moors v Dagenham & Redbridge

Wealdstone v Kings Lynn Town

Weymouth v Barnet

Woking v Eastleigh

Yeovil Town v Boreham Wood

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