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Forest Green Rovers

The New Lawn Founded 1890 Rovers

Over the last three campaigns Forest Green Rovers start out as one of the favourites only to finish in the same position. Rovers are currently the longest serving club in the Conference Premier and will take part in their seventeenth consecutive season. The Gloucestershire club have branded themselves as environmentally friendly which is no surprise when their owner Dale Vince founded Ecotricity. Twice runners up in the F.A Trophy and former F.A Vase winners meant Forest Green Rovers became the first club to have appeared in both finals. Considering the number of season’s Rovers have spent in the Conference Premier they have yet to reach the playoffs.

fgrfcLast Season

Conference Premier: 10th

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

Top Scorer: James Norwood

Average Attendance: 1195

An opening day 8-0 win against Hyde set the tongues wagging in favour of a title challenge. Once again Forest Green Rovers fell short, not just for automatic promotion but also for the playoffs. Dave Hockaday thought he had assembled a squad capable of reaching the clubs ambition and on paper it looked strong. Three months into the season and the manager departed after three wins in 24 games. Rovers considered employing Steve Burr who had impressed at Kidderminster Harriers the year before, however he turned the offer down and in came Adrian Pennock. The Gloucestershire club knew how to find the net with only champions Luton Town and FC Halifax Town scoring more. The problem was at the other end where they conceded twice the amount on their travels than at the New Lawn. An inconsistent season with a consistent placing, Forest Green Rovers finished tenth for the third consecutive campaign.

The Manager – Adrian Pennock

A former central defender, Adrian Pennock made his name at AFC Bournemouth and Gillingham where he made almost 300 Football League appearances between both clubs. Pennock retired when injuries started to get the better of him and he finished his playing career in Kent at Gravesend and Northfleet. To kick start his managerial career Pennock remained in Kent moving the short distance to Welling United. In 2005, he guided the Wings to their highest finish for six years in the Conference South when he took over in January. He stayed at Park View Road until the end of the 2006/07 campaign until Tony Pulis came calling. Pulis, who signed Pennock whilst at Gillingham appointed him as coach at Stoke City until he left in 2013. Following a run of poor results Forest Green Rovers announced their new manager on 12 November 2013 so although Pennock hasn’t had a full season in charge yet, he has had some time to shape his squad for his first full campaign.

The Summer

Adrian Pennock has taken advantage of Salisbury City’s demotion signing three from the Wiltshire club. Clovis Kamdjo made 34 appearances last term as a midfielder but is equally adept in defence. Winger, Elliot Frear appeared in all but three Conference Premier matches last season and also signs a two year deal. Completing the trio of midfielder’s on two year contracts is Rob Sinclair. Sam Wedgbury could play alongside the former Salisbury City players in the middle of the park as he joins from Macclesfield Town. Up front, 21 year old promising Kurtis Guthrie moves from Welling United where he was part of the promotion winning side. Forest Green Rovers have snapped up former Stevenage goalkeeper Steve Arnold to provide competition for Sam Russell. In defence two full backs have been captured in James Jennings from Mansfield Town and David Pipe from Newport County.

Moving in the opposite direction across to Wales is Yan Klukowski. The midfielder spent four years at the New Lawn scoring a club record 48 Conference Premier goals, the 27 year old joins Newport County. Striker James Walker reached the end of his contract and left the club whilst Jared Hodgkiss, Ed Asafu-Adjaye, Stephen Brogan, Reece Styche, Paul Green, Saul Williams and Adam McHugh were all released.

Last Meetings vs The Darts

Dartford 0 Forest Green Rovers 1 – Conference Premier – 12 April 2014

Rovers completed three wins from four fixtures against the two sides adding to their successes last term. Dartford had the opportunity to move out of the relegation zone, which was denied to them when Danny Wright won the match seven minutes from time.

Forest Green Rovers 1 Dartford 0 – F.A Trophy First Round Replay – 3 December 2013

Matthew Barnes-Homer recorded the all important strike that made sure Forest Green Rovers progressed to the next round. Defeat for the Darts meant they couldn’t repeat their previous run to the last four whilst Rovers fell at the next hurdle.

Dartford 1 Forest Green Rovers 1 – F.A Trophy First Round – 30 November 2013

Danny Harris scored Dartford’s only goal against Forest Green Rovers last season which came in the F.A Trophy. Yan Klukowski spoiled the party with an equaliser but at least the Darts ended a seven game losing streak. The draw meant the Kent club needed to travel to Gloucstershire three days later.

Forest Green Rovers 1 Dartford 0 – Conference Premier – 2 November 2013

By the time the Darts met Forest Green Rovers in the league Dave Hockaday had gone. The mangerless club grabbed three points early on when James Norwood headed the winner after just five minutes. There wasn’t much to choose between the two sides with Max Cornhill and Ryan Hayes coming the closest for the Darts.

Next Meetings

Saturday 20 September 2014 at Princes Park

Saturday 29 November 2014 at the New Lawn

League Performance Last Ten Years

fgr 10 years

Best Performances

8th Conference Premier (2007/08) F.A Cup 3rd Round (2008/09) F.A Trophy Runners Up (1998/99 & 2000/01)

FC Halifax Town

The Shay Founded 2008 The Shaymen

The continued success of the newly formed FC Halifax Town has given the Yorkshire club optimism that they can reach the Football League. The town lost its club six years ago and the Shaymen had to restart in the Northern Premier League Division One North. Within six years FC Halifax Town have won two league titles and a playoff making their way up the non league pyramid. Their first season back in the Conference Premier last term was one to be proud of, reaching the playoff semi finals and continuing an excellent record on their own patch.

FC Halifax TownLast Season

Conference Premier: 5th

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

Top Scorer: Lee Gregory

Average Attendance: 1597

The Shaymen suffered just one defeat in their debut Conference Premier season, were delighted with the services of striker Lee Gregory and finished in the top five. A brilliant campaign for the Yorkshire club ended in the playoff semi finals where they lost to eventual winners Cambridge United. In fact, the campaign started against the same club with a difficult 5-1 loss but FC Halifax Town grew in stature as the season developed.Almost unbeatable in the league at the Shay, the Yorkshire club chalked up 16 wins, six draws and a defeat at home. Overall they outscored all but the champions Luton Town with the help of 29 strikes by the prolific Lee Gregory. The Shaymen put a fantastic late run together to reach the playoffs, a run of nine wins from ten in March up to mid April. The club dropped just two points and kept an astonishing seven clean sheets in a row to secure fifth spot.

The Manager – Neil Aspin

FC Halifax Town found their perfect match in 2009 when they appointed Neil Aspin. The former Leeds United and Port Vale defender is used to taking the honours having won Player of the Year with both clubs. As a player Aspin often found himself winning runner up medals but as a manager he has gone one better. In his first managerial job he won the West Riding County Cup with Harrogate Town. Since moving to the Shay he has clinched three promotions starting with the Northern Premier League Division One North title. The Yorkshire club won the division with 100 points and the following year the Northern Premier League was clinched with 98 points. Aspin then led FC Halifax Town to an F.A Cup first round tie with Charlton Athletic and won a third promotion via the Conference North playoffs. Although last term he couldn’t steer the Shaymen into the Football League, the 49 year old gave it a good shot.

The Summer

Conference Premier Player of the Year and FC Halifax Town’s top striker Lee Gregory has been signed by Championship side Millwall. Neil Aspin swooped for a replacement and Richard Peniket will be the clubs new marksmen, the 21 year old started his career at Fulham before loan spells in the Conference Premier. A second striker arrives at the Shay, Ross Dyer was released by Mansfield Town in the summer and pens a deal with the Shaymen. To complete a trio of forwards joining the Yorkshire side, Scott Boden switches from Macclesfield Town where he averaged one goal every two games. At the other end of the pitch, central defender Steve Williams follows Boden from Moss Rose and full back Kevin Roberts signs from promotion winning Cambridge United. James Bolton played for Aspin in the Conference North and Premier and comes back to the Shay.

Leaving the Shay will be Ryan Toulson and Danny Lowe who have both dropped down a division to play for Guiseley. Ryan Crowther will continue in the Conference Premier with newly promoted Altrincham.

Last Meetings vs The Darts

Dartford 1 FC Halifax Town 2 – Conference Premier – 14 December 2013

The visitors completed a double over Dartford with two goals after the hour mark. The second half was dominated by FC Halifax Town and they were rewared with goals from Joe Ironside and Josh Wilson. The Darts managed to claw one goal back late on when on loan defender Connor Essam halved the deficit.

FC Halifax Town 2 Dartford 0 – Conference Premier – 19 August 2013

An early meeting between the two sides last season ended in the hosts taking advantage of what Tony Burman described as ‘hari-kari’. The Darts failed to score for a successive away day whilst the Shaymen netted two in the second half. Lee Gregory opened the scoring and Kevin Holsgrove pounced on an Alan Julian fumble.

Next Meetings

Saturday 6 December 2014 at Princes Park

Saturday 7 March 2015 at the Shay

League Performance Last Six Years

halifax 10 years

Best Performances

5th Conference Premier (2013/14) F.A Cup 1st Round (2011/12 & 2013/14) F.A Trophy Quarter Final (2012/13)

Eastleigh

Silverlake Stadium Founded 1946 The Spitfires

It wasn’t until eleven years ago that Eastleigh stepped out of the local Wessex League as champions and into the Southern League East division. A rapid leap to the Conference South with consecutive promotions led to nine campaigns at the second tier of non league. The Spitfires were never troubled in the Conference South often finishing mid table or in and around the playoffs, twice reaching the semi finals. Based in Hampshire, the club have been backed by Stewart Donald whose investment has been crucial to recent success, Eastleigh aim to be competitive in their first ever season in the Conference Premier and create more club history.

eastleighLast Season

Conference South: 1st

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: Quarter Final

County Cup: 2nd Round

Top Scorer: Craig McAllister

Average Attendance: 680

The foundations of their Championship winning campaign laid at the Silverlake Stadium with the exception of two draws and defeats, Eastleigh won all the rest. From the last game in 2013 to the last match of the season the Spitfires won all eleven fixtures at home. A winning margin of five points would have been greater had they not lost the final two matches but the title was sealed by then. An unbeaten run of twelve when it mattered towards the end of the season ensured the Spitfires won promotion to the Conference Premier. After the fifth match the Hampshire side never fell out of the top two and with the likes of Craig McAllister, Jai Reason and Ben Wright all scoring over ten goals they had match winners. At the other end of the pitch they kept fifteen clean sheets and boasted the third best defence in the Conference South.

The Manager – Richard Hill

Although Eastleigh’s boss hasn’t much experience as a number one he has built up plenty of knowledge from various roles in football. The former Northampton Town midfielder managed Stevenage Borough in the Conference Premier between 1998 and 2000. Returning to management two years ago, Hill has filled the void by being number two in command. Assistant manager under John Gregory at Wycome Wanderers and Queens Park Rangers, Brain Little at Aston Villa, Martin Wilkinson at Northampton Town and former Dartford midfielder Andy Hessenthaler at Gillingham, Hill has also been a coach, a scout and a technical advisor to Ethopian national team. A spell out in the Kazakhstan Premier League with FC Kairat in another assistant role was the last job until his appointment at Eastleigh. Whilst at the Silverlake Stadium, Hill took the Hampshire side to the playoff semi final losing on penalties and last term went one step further with the Conference South title.

The Summer

Richard Hill made an early statement in the summer making two high profile signings. On a two ear contract James Constable returns to the Conference Premier where his playoff goal in 2010 helped Oxford United into the Football League. The striker scored 106 times for the U’s, one short of the clubs 40 year old scoring record. Added to the strikeforce, Jack Midson finished top scorer in the League Two in 2011/12 with AFC Wimbledon, the 30 year old has also played for Oxford United. Eastleigh have taken defender Paul Reid on a free transfer after being released from Northampton Town. Craig Stanley was with Aldershot Town last season and makes the short journey to his new club Eastleigh, Stanley has also appeared for Walsall, Hereford United, Torquay United, Bristol Rovers and Morecambe. Striker Ben Wright has goalscoring credentials in the Conference South and after a spell at Salisbury City he is back playing in this terms Conference Premier.

Club captain Glen Southam left the Silverlake Stadium due to personal reasons but soon found his way to Essex, the 34 year old has joined Chelmsford City in the Conference South. Defender Chris Dillon and assistant manager Guy Butters have left the club.

Last Meetings vs The Darts

Dartford 3 Eastleigh 0 – Conference South– 10 December 2011

Dartford’s poor record against the Spitfires was improved with a three goal victory. Charlie Sheringham finished off a counter attacking team move mid way through the first half. The striker added a second with twenty minutes remaining. To rub salt into the wound the visitors conceded a third when Henrik Breimyr turned the ball into his own net.

Eastleigh 2 Dartford 2 – Conference South– 19 November 2011

Going through a patchy spell in the Conference South Dartford were pegged back by ten men Eastleigh at the Silverlake Stadium. The Darts thought they would return home with all three points when Adam Green scored from the spot and Jon Wallis made it 2-0. In between the goals Ian Herring was dismissed for the hosts making Eastleigh’s task harder. However, the Spitfires hit back and salvaged a draw thanks to Danny Smith’s and  Tom Jordan’s goals.

Next Meetings

Tuesday 9 September 2014 at Princes Park

Tuesday 2 December 2014 at the Silverlake Stadium

League Performance Last Ten Years

eastleigh last 10 yrs

Best Performances

1st Conference South (2013/14) F.A Cup 1st Round (2009/10) F.A Trophy Quarter Final (2013/14)

Dover Athletic

The Crabble Founded 1983 The Whites

Dover Athletic return to the Conference Premier after a dozen years away. Their previous spell ran between 1993 and 2002 and the man that got them there then is back with the club. The Whites had been pushing for a place in the top flight of non league for sometime going close on two previous occasions. Playoff defeats in 2010 and again in 2013 were put behind them last term when they finally triumphed. When the dropped out of the Conference Premier in 2002, the club dropped to the Isthmian League Division One before winning back to back titles in 2008 and 2009. A five year stay in the Conference South never saw Dover Athletic finish lower than seventh.

Last Seasondover

Conference South: 5th

F.A Cup: 2nd Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Round

County Cup: Runners Up

Top Scorer: Tom Murphy

Average Attendance: 666

Dover Athletic had been aiming for the Conference Premier for sometime, falling short of their expectations on four occasions before finally winning promotion. A strong end to the season, suffering just two defeats in the final 15 matches squeezed the Whites into the playoffs on goal difference. Dover Athletic boasted the best away record and tightest defence in last terms Conference South, saving the biggest result to last. Goals were evenly spread out amongst Tom Murphy, Barry Cogan and Jeff Goulding and depth up top came from Nathan Elder and Moses Ademola. With many former Ebbsfleet United players on their books the all Kent playoff final was a tasty looking affair. The Fleet beat the Whites in the Kent Senior Cup final five days earlier, then at Stonebridge Road Elder returned to his former club to score the winner taking Dover Athletic up. The Kent can now look forward to renewing rivalries with Dartford and Welling United.

The Manager – Chris Kinnear

In January 2013, Chris Kinnear returned to the Crabble and is Dover Athletic’s most successful manager. In is first spell in charge Kinnear took the Kent club from the depths of the Southern League to Conference Premier. The Southern division was won in 1987/88 and the Premier division both in 1989/90 and 1992/93. Denied promotion to the Conference Premier after the first title due to ground regulations, the club were accepted at the second attempt. Due to personal reasons he left Dover Athletic in 1994 and returned to football two years later with Margate. History repeated itself, The Gate won both Southern League titles to earn a place in the Conference Premier then finished eighth like Kinnear managed at Dover Athletic. Connections with the Crabble continued when Margate ground shared and were finally demoted due to issues at Hartsdown Park. When an opportunity came up to manage the Whites again, Kinnear took the job and won promotion back to the Conference Premier.

The Summer

Former Dart, Tyrone Sterling returns to the club having left Dover Athletic in the summer of 2013. The defender made 34 league appearances for Dartford last term. Kinnear’s first signing though was Stefan Payne, the frontman hit 31 goals in 46 games for AFC Hornchurch last season, finishing as joint top-scorer in the Isthmian Premier League. Christian Nanetti signs from Havant and Waterlooville, the attacking midfielder scored 12 goals in 43 appearances for The Hawks last season.

Michael Kamara has signed for Dulwich Hamlet, leaving Crabble after two seasons at the club. The London based club also take Terrell Forbes and Ashley Crew away from the Crabble.

Last Meetings vs The Darts

Dartford 0 Dover Athletic 3 – Kent Senior Cup Quarter Final – 4 March 2014

With relegation on Dartford’s mind Tony Burman sacrificed a chance to reach the last four putting out an inexperienced team. The visitors used fringe players and goals from Andre Blackman, Moses Ademola and a Tom Welham own goal put the Whites into the semi-final. Dover Athletic went on to reach the final losing 4-0 to Ebbsfleet United.

Dartford 3 Dover Athletic 1 – Conference South– 3 December 2011

The last competitive meeting between the Kent rivals was in the second tier of non league. In Dartford’s promotion season, Adam Green put the Darts ahead from the spot before Augustin Battipiedi equalised. Ryan Hayes restored Dartford’s lead and Elliot Bradbrook made certain of three points.

Dover Athletic 2 Dartford 2 – Conference South– 23 August 2011

An entertaining draw ended Dartford’s perfect start to the campaign as Dover Athletic came from behind twice. Charlie Sheringham netted after just 30 seconds but the goal was cancelled out by George Purcell. Ellliot Bradbrook headed the Darts back in front but yet again the Whites equalised this time through Billy Bricknell.

Next Meetings

Tuesday 16 September 2014 at Princes Park

Saturday 17 January 2015 at the Crabble

League Performance Last Ten Years

dover last 10 yrs

Best Performances

6th Conference Premier (1999/2000) F.A Cup 3rd Round (2010/11) F.A Trophy Semi Final (1997/98)

Chester

Deva Stadium Founded 2010 The Blues

Chester suffered their first setback last season and even then it turned out to be a positive outcome. When you put everything in perspective, the Blues have risen through the non league pyramid in the directest route possible since restarting four years ago. Winning three consecutive league titles, life in the Conference Premier didn’t seem possible when under their former guise Chester City crumbled and ceased to exist. Supporters made sure Chester would still have a team and from then on they have never looked back. A first campaign in the Conference Premier ended in relegation but at least a club exists, however in a dramatic twist Hereford United suffered financially leading to a reprieve for Chester.

CFCLast Season

Conference Premier: 21st

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: 2nd Round

Top Scorer: Gareth Seddon

Average Attendance: 2366

Drama unfolded on the final day of the season and beyond. In the beginning high expectations surrounded the club after a rapid rise to the Conference Premier. Realistically, still a semi professional side it would always be tough to compete. With an impressive following the campaign got off to the worse possible start, Chester lost their opening five fixtures. What better way to end that run than a cross border derby win at Wrexham, the first since reforming. By December, the Blues languished in the bottom four and a change in management ensued. On the final day Chester led twice against Salisbury City and with four minutes to go were staying up. The Blues conceded and two minutes later news reached the Deva Stadium that Hereford United grabbed a winner to stay up. Or so they thought, debts at Edgar Street had mounted and after missing crucial deadlines to clear monies owed the Conference Premier relegated the Bulls, Chester get a second chance.

The Manager – Steve Burr

A first full season in Cheshire awaits Steve Burr having joined the club on 18 January 2014. The former Macclesfield Town striker, left Kidderminster Harriers last term in an eventful set of circumstances. Given permission to speak to Forest Green Rovers to fill the vacant post at the New Lawn, Burr turned down the offer. Three months later the experienced manager had joined Chester. Burr has spent fourteen years as a manager including a spell as England C assistant boss. Starting in the dugout at Nuneaton Borough was a tough place to begin, the club were relegated from the Conference Premier. After his sacking,  Burr bounced back with the Northern Premier League title at Hucknall Town which caught the eye of Northwich Victoria. Not helped by a ten point deduction, the Vics were relegated but the following season the Conference North title was claimed. Stalybridge Celtic were led to to the Conference North playoff final and Burr went close to returning Kidderminster Harriers back to the Football League.

The Summer

Steve Burr has been a busy man in the summer, having finished in the bottom four he is keen to avoid a repeat. In one of the highest profile signings during the break, former Scottish international Chris Iwelumo will start 2014/15 at Chester. Iwelumo played for Scottish Premiership side St Johnstone last term and made over 550 appearances in the Football League scoring 120 goals. A former Welsh international also joins, Gareth Roberts joins from Notts County. On the wing Peter Winn has signed from fellow Cheshire club Macclesfield Town, the 25 year old played in the league 37 times for the Silkmen in 2013/14. Sean McConville scored 11 in 38 games for Stalybridge Celtic from midfield and Burr has added the Liverpudlian to the squad. Former England C international and experienced Conference Premier defender Kieran Charnock, ex Alfreton Town goalkeeper Jon Worsnop join Matthew Brown, signed from Chesterfield and Danny Taylor from Colwyn Bay at the back. Kingsley James has left cash strapped Hereford United, Wayne Riley and Irish under 17 international John Disney comes in from Hednesford Town.

Chester have lost the services of three players to the ambitious Salford City in the Northern Premier League Division One North. Top scorer Gareth Seddon leaves the Deva Stadium after scoring seven in 35 games last term. Both Paul Linwood and Jason Jarrett made 29 league appearances in 2013/14 and join Seddon at Moor Lane.

Last Meetings vs The Darts

Dartford 0 Chester 1 – Conference Premier – 7 March 2014

A relegation battle in front of the television cameras was won by a brilliantly taken Gareth Seddon volley five minutes into the second half. Not the prettiest of matches but the Cheshire club looked good for their three points. Dartford’s Lee Noble came close to level things up near the end.

Chester 0 Dartford 0 – Conference Premier – 7 September 2013

The deadlock between the two sides earned Chester their first home points of the season. Whilst the home side looked good in the first half hour, the Darts pushed in the second half but neither side could find the net. The games best efforts came when Alex Titchiner tested Alan Julian from long range and Danny Harris was off target for Dartford.

League Performance Last Four Years

chester last 10 yrs

Best Performances

21st Conference Premier (2013/14) F.A Cup 4th Qualifying Round (2013/14) F.A Trophy 2nd Round (2011/12)

Bristol Rovers

Memorial Stadium Founded 1883 The Pirates

For the first time in 94 years Bristol Rovers will be playing non league football. The city of Bristol will have one team in the Football League after the Pirates were relegated last term. Throughout the fifties the club enjoyed second tier football and spent the sixties onwards in the third and fourth levels. Where the Conference Premier have lost Luton Town they have gained Bristol Rovers, who averaged over 6000 supporters per game last season. Rovers are currently hoping for a new home moving to the provisionally named UWE Stadium. The club plan to sell the Memorial Stadium to help fund a 21700 all seater arena and expect it to be ready by the 2015/16 campaign.

Last Seasonbristol rovers

League Two: 23rd

F.A Cup: 3rd Round

League Cup: 1st Round

County Cup: Quarter final

Top Scorer: John-Joe O’Toole

Average Attendance: 6420

Relegation was always a threat last term despite the Pirates entering the bottom two in the final month. Bristol Rovers spent just three matchdays in the drop zone as they struggled all season on their travels.  At the Memorial Stadium they recorded the tenth best home record and fifth best defence. Away from Bristol, the story was completely different finishing with the worst set of results. The Pirates only away win was against Wycome Wanderers, who themselves were embroiled in the fight to stay up. Entering the final fixtures of the campaign John Ward’s side held a three point advantage two places above the drop. Whilst Northampton Town were winning against Oxford United and Wycombe Wanderers beating Torquay United, Bristol Rovers needed victory at home to Mansfield Town. The Pirates were beaten 1-0 condemning them to the Conference Premier on goal difference. Ward was replaced in March by his assisstant manager and after 41 days was sacked from his Director of Football role.

The Manager – Darrell Clarke

Spending time as assistant since the start of last season, Darrell Clarke moved into the hotseat on 28 March 2014. Although too late to save Bristol Rovers, Clarke’s credentials earned from his time at Salisbury City has given the 36 year old the opportunity to turn fortunes around at the Memorial Stadium. Having left Salisbury City in the summer for the Football League when Clarke returned to the Conference Premier he was destined to face his former club until their recent demise. The former Mansfield Town, Hartlepool United and Salisbury City winger spent three years managing at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium. He turned Salisbury City into a formidable home side leading them to promotion via the palyoffs to the Conference South. He took the Whites to the F.A Cup third round for the first time ever before bowing out to Sheffield United at Brammal Lane. A second playoff triumph followed in 2013 when Salisbury City beat Dover Athletic in the playoffs to take the Wiltshire club back to the Conference Premier.

The Summer

Darrell Clarke brings in two former Salisbury City players following the Wiltshire club’s relegation. Jamie White top scored under Clarke in the Whites promotion season having joined from Winchester City. The 24  year old netted an impressive 51 goals in 32 games for Winchester City in the Wessex League. Stuart Sinclair played 37 times for Salisbury City last term as a midfielder. Jake Gosling gruaduated from Exeter City’s academy, the midfielder made his international debut for Gibralter in May scoring the goal that earned a draw with Estonia. Former Forest Green Rovers striker Matty Taylor joins the Pirates, the England C international spent seven games on loan at Chester last term scoring six goals. The experienced Lee Mansell leaves fellow relegated side Torquay United after 380 appearances, the midfielder was the Gulls longest serving player.

There has been a lot movement out of the Memorial Stadium notably top striker John-Joe O’Toole who activated a release cause. The 25 year old made the League Two Team of the Year after netting 15 goals in a struggling campaign. Matt Harold departs and Brazilian winger Alefe Santos, who joins Derby County. Alan Gow was invited back to prove his fitness but with firm offers from elsewhere he leaves Bristol Rovers. Other players moving on include David Clarkson, Fabian Broghammer, Sean Clucas, Jim Paterson, Eliot Richards and Danny Woodards.

Next Meetings

Tuesday 7 October 2014 at the Memorial Stadium

Saturday 31 January 2015 at Princes Park

League Performance Last Ten Years

bristol rover 10 yrsBest Performances

6th Championship (1955/56 & 1958/59) F.A Cup Quarter Final (1950/51, 1957/58 & 2007/08) Never participated in the F.A Trophy

Braintree Town

Cressing Road Founded 1898 The Iron

Twenty three years ago Braintree Town moved up the Southern League and to cut travelling costs they moved to the Isthmian leagues five years later. What happened next was steady progress, even though they effectively choose to move down two steps. By 2001 the Iron climbed through three divisions to the Isthmian Premier which they won in 2006. In the next two campaigns the Essex club reached the playoffs missing out on both occasions. The wait was well worth it when Braintree Town took the Conference South title three years ago. Ever since becoming champion the Iron have more than held their own in Conference Premier. As underdogs in the first season they stayed up with ease and each term since has seen improvement.

BTFCLast Season

Conference Premier: 6th

F.A Cup: 1st Round

FA Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: Runners Up

Top Scorer: Dan Holman

Average Attendance: 994

Officially the best part time in the country, dicing with the playoffs and a personal best finish, Braintree Town had a terrific third campaign in the Conference Premier. A horrendous fixture backlog added to the challenge of one of the lowest budgets, The Iron almost reached the playoffs. Denied on the final day, they couldn’t overturn a three point deficit over FC Halifax Town. Strangely for what the club have to work with, coming so close brought about mixed emotions of pride and disappointment. The thing is, it wasn’t as if the Essex club sneaked into sixth, they kept up with the top five all campaign. At one stage the club dropped to seventeenth only because they played only three games in January and February.  A fixture backlog is often used as an excuse but not this time. The challenge of nineteen games in the final two months spurred the players on in an attempt of a top five finish. Maybe not this time but a fantastic effort nonetheless.

The Manager – Alan Devonshire

A former England international as a player, Devonshire won eight caps for his country making his name at West Ham United. The midfielder played over 350 games for the Hammers reaching Wembley in 1980. Up against Arsenal in the top flight, West Ham United caused an upset winning the cup from outside the top flight. Devonshire’s cross set up Trevor Brooking’s famous header to earn a memorable climb up the Wembley steps. The 58 year old knows a thing or two about being an underdog and he has proved this at Cressing Road. When he took over in May 2011, Braintree Town had just clinched the Conference South league title gaining promotion to the Conference Premier for the first time in their history. Devonshire was appointed after impressing at Hampton and Richmond who he took from the Isthmian Division One to the Conference Premier. Whilst operating as a part time club, Braintree Town have improved on each of their last five campaigns, three of which in the top flight of non league under Devonshire.

The Summer

Dan Walker returns to Cressing Road from Hereford United. The 24 year old made four loan appearances for the Iron in February 2013. Another former loanee comes back to the club, Charlie Strutton scored six in seven appearances for Braintree Town last term.

Dean Wells moves to League Two side Stevenage for £25000 with the fee rising dependent on appearances and other add ons. Devonshire has been working with the defender for nine years with the Iron as well as Hampton and Richmond. Top scorer Dan Holman is now a free agent after turning down a new contract. Holman has found the net on a regular basis since moving to Cressing Road.

Last Meetings vs The Darts

Braintree Town 1 Dartford 0 – Conference Premier – 18 April 2014

Mid way through the first half Kenny Davis effort from just outside the box won the game for Braintree Town. Alan Julian made a string of fine saves in the Dartford goal. Lee Noble missed two chances at 0-0 but the Iron managed to complete a double over Dartford.

Dartford 0 Braintree Town 2 – Conference Premier – 24 August 2013

It took an improved Braintree Town performance after the break to overcome the Darts. The home side edged the first forty five minutes without breaking through. Alan Massey headed a Kenny Davis free kick into the net to give Braintree Town the lead. Former Ebbsfleet United striker Liam Enveer-Marum wrapped it all up with a last minute strike.

Next Meetings

Friday 26 December 2014 at Princes Park

Thursday 1 January 2015 at Cressing Road

League Performance Last Ten Years

braintree ten yrsBest Performances

6th Conference Premier (2013/14) F.A Cup 1st Round (2005/06, 2012/13 & 2013/14) F.A Trophy 5th Round (2001/02)

Barnet

The Hive Founded 1888 The Bees

A year ago Barnet fans could look forward to a new home whilst being led out by a former Champions League winner. All the hype about Edgar Davids playing non league football got the terraces intrigued. Now the Bees are minus the much decorated midfielder and have turned to a management team they have trusted in the past. Barnet, now in their third spell in the Conference Premier know what it’s like at this level. Champions in 1990 and 2005, their recent eight year stay in the Football League was spent surviving mainly on the final day of the season. The Hertfordshire club may have found it hard to leave Underhill, their home for 106 years but now they enter a second campaign of their new chapter.

BFCLast Season

Conference Premier: 8th

F.A Cup: 1st Round

FA Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

Top Scorer: Jake Hyde

Average Attendance: 1706

A promising start in the first month of the season left Barnet in second but the Bees lost their buzz in September. Although Barnet went 12 games suffering a solitary defeat putting the North Londoners in touching distance of the playoffs, they fell short of the top five missing out by seven points. Davids often caused unwanted headlines picking up as many cards in his eight appearances on the pitch, three of them reds. The frustrated Dutchman lost his way and left the club by mutual consent. Throughout the campaign Barnet were the masters of getting by on a single goal with nine 1-0 victories and 14 wins by a margin of one. A few more goals may have propelled them into the top five but as it was the Hertfordshire side will be left to rebuild over the summer for a second attempt at another return to the Football League. Chairman, Anthony Kleanthous with one eye on 2014/15 raided old contacts at the tail end of last term and renewed his relationship with a “Mad Dog”.

The Manager – Martin Allen

Take one, after two assistant roles at Reading then Barnet, Martin Allen took charge permanently making drastic changes to the squad in 2003/04. Looking set to succeed the former Queens Park Rangers and west Ham United player left for Brentford. Milton Keynes Dons, Leicester City and Cheltenham Town followed. At Whaddon Road he was placed on gardening leave before departing Cheltenham Town. Take two, Allen returned to Underhill on an eight game contract at the end of the 2010/11 campaign and lasted three unbeaten matches, the Bees survived relegation from the Football League by winning their final game. Moving to Notts County for the climax of that season he managed to keep them up in the division above. Take three, as caretaker manager Barnet was yet again spared dropping out of League Two thanks to Allen’s guidance. A move to Gillingham followed where the 48 year old took the Kent club to the League Two title but “Mad Dog” soon returned to Barnet for his fourth take.

The Summer

A major clear out occurred at the Hive in the summer break. To start with The Bees will see a brand new strike force this campaign with last season’s top scorer Jake Hyde moving on to York City, England C international Keanu Marsh-Brown transfer listed and former Dart Harry Crawford being released. John Akinde moves to The Hive on the back of an impressive season with Alfreton Town, the 25 year old scored 17 league goals in 2013/14. Team mate at North Street, Dan Bradley also makes the move to Hertfordshire, the midfielder featured in but two league games last term. Allen has used his former contacts in signing Sam Muggleton from League One side Gillingham, the defender spent time on loan at Barnet in the final months of last season.

Last Meetings vs The Darts

Barnet 1 Dartford 0 – Conference Premier – 7 December 2013

The Darts first trip to The Hive ended in defeat and completed back to back losses against Barnet. Jon Nurse’s goal half hour into the game was enough to settle the match. Player manager Edgar Davids received a second yellow card late on but the Bees held out for a double against Dartford.

Dartford 0 Barnet 2 – Conference Premier – 26 November 2013

Barnet visited Princes Park for the first time and came away with all three points. Keanu Marsh-Brown fired the Bees in front from a tight angle.  Just passed the half hour mark Barnet stretched their lead to two with a curling free kick from Luisma Villa. Stand in Dartford goalkeeper Phil Smith was kept busy making a number of saves and having watched two efforts hit the woodwork.

Next Meetings

Monday 25 August 2014 at The Hive

Monday 6 April 2015 at Princes Park

League Performance Last Ten Years

barnet 10 yrs

Best Performances

24th League One (1993/94) F.A Cup 4th Round (2006/07 & 2007/08) F.A Trophy Runners Up (1971/72)

Altrincham

Moss Lane Founded 1891 The Robins

Founder members of the Alliance Premier League, now the Conference Premier, Altrincham recorded back to back titles in the 1979/80 and 1980/81 campaigns. In the mid eighties Alty reached the fourth round of the F.A Cup  and in the same season triumphed for the second time in the F.A Trophy, adding to their 1977/78 success. The Greater Manchester club missed out on promotion to the Football League due to the voting system in place at the time. Spending 18 season’s in the top flight of non league, Altrincham spent one season in the Conference Premier between 1997 and 2005. They did return for six more campaigns, reprieved for two of them before finally falling back to the Conference North. Alty return via the playoffs after a three year absence.

altrinchamLast Season

Conference North: 3rd

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

FA Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: Semi Final

Top Scorer: James Walshaw

Average Attendance: 833

A very consistent campaign earned Altrincham third spot and a shot of the playoffs. Winning their first four fixtures and started the season seven unbeaten put the Robins in the mood. Deservedly promoted, the Greater Manchester finished just four points behind champions AFC Telford United and a point shy of runners up North Ferriby United. A prolific strike force in James Walshaw and Damian Reeves who scored fifty times between them, Alty racked up 95 goals more than any other Conference North side. The Greater Manchester side would have won the title had they beaten any of the teams above them. In the playoffs their first obstacle was Hednesford Town, three points below them. A 2-2 draw away was followed by a 2-1 home win leading to a showdown with Guiseley. With the final all level after 90 minutes, substitute Greg Wilkinson became the hero scoring a last minute extra time winner.

The Manager – Lee Sinnott

Appointed in May 2011, Sinnott arrived at Moss Lane with managerial experience with Farsley Celtic, Bradford Park Avenue and Port Vale. An F.A Cup runner up as a player with Watford he also played for Bradford City, Crystal Palace, Huddersfield Town, Oldham Athletic and Scarborough. The former defender took Farsley Celtic out of the Northern Premier League Division One into the Conference Premier after achieving three promotions in four campaigns.  His first season at Moss Lane saw Altrincham finish eighth, whilst 2012-13 saw an improvement but Altrincham lost a semi-final play-off with Brackley Town. However, promotion was earned last term when the Robins lifted the Conference North Playoff trophy. Sinnott is yet to win a league title but has plenty of experience of playoff football with Watford as a player and now with Farsley Celtic and Altrincham as a manager.

The Summer

Normally when a top scorer is bagging goals teams above pay attention. On this occasion Sinnott loses the services of James Walshaw to a club lower, the striker joins Harrogate Town in the Conference North leaving Moss Lane due to personal reasons. How Altrincham cope remains to be seen but in comes winger Ryan Crowther from FC Halifax Town, the 25 year old made 13 league appearances last term for the Shaymen. Midfielder, Sean Williams moves from North Wales across the border to Greater Manchester having signed from Colwyn Bay. From the north east Dave Parton will protect the Robins goal signing from Newcastle Town.

Experienced defender Matt Doughty made 34 appearances for Altrincham last season and moves to Northern Premier Division One club Warrington Town.

Last Meetings vs The Darts

Dartford 1 Altrincham 0 – F.A Trophy Quarter Final – 11 March 1989

Club favourite Steve Robinson scored a 55th minute winner to put the Darts into the F.A Trophy semi final. Dartford playing a league below Altrincham ended the season as runners up in the Southern League. The clubs met at the same stage eight years earlier when Dartford ran out 3-1 winners at Watling Street.

Dartford 3 Altrincham 2 – Conference Premier – 1 February 1986

This may sound familiar, Dartford had little joy in the second successive Conference Premier campaign. Known as the Gola League the Darts were relegated but victory over Altrincham was one of the few highlights. At the time Dartford were managerless following John Still’s resignation eleven days earlier.

Altrincham 0 Dartford 0 – Conference Premier – 21 September 1985

In an experimental season where teams were awarded two points for a home win and three for an away win, Dartford drew 0-0 in the north west. The Robins went on to finish fourth, win the F.A Trophy for a second time in their history beating Runcorn  and reached the fourth round of the F.A Cup triumphing over Chorley, Blackpool, Birmingham City on the way to defeat against York City.

Next Meetings

Saturday 6 September 2014 at Moss Lane

Saturday 28 March 2015 at Princes Park

League Performance Last Ten Years

altrincham 10 yrsBest Performances

1st Conference Premier (1979/80 & 1980/81) F.A Cup 4th Round (1985/86) F.A Trophy Winners (1977/78 & 1985/86 )

Alfreton Town

Impact Arena, North Street Founded 1959 The Reds

When Alfreton Town won the Conference North three years ago few expected them to still be in the Conference Premier. The Derbyshire club have gradually improved their finishes in the top flight of non league whilst living within their means. At the moment the Reds are enjoying their best on field results setting records in each of their Conference Premier seasons, by finishing in their highest ever positions three years running. For the good of the club, chairman Wayne Bradley has been known to cut the budget in the past and moved back from full time to part time football. The chairman knows new input is required to take his club to the next level and in April he announced he’s looking to sell the club.

atfcLast Season

Conference Premier: 11th

F.A Cup: 1st Round

FA Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: 1st Round

Top Scorer: John Akinde

Average Attendance: 805

Another outstanding season gave fans at the Impact Arena hope of reaching the playoffs. When the Reds beat Barnet at home in September they climbed into third spot mixing it with the big boys. Not only was that a one off, the Derbyshire club dropped a few spots before regaining third position at the end of 2013. Until the end of March, Alfreton Town were not going away and looked set to give part time football a boost. The final eight games proved too much and a winless streak left the club slipping into eleventh. Still, there was a lot to cheer with a new personal best finish, a goalscorer in John Akinde and a fantastic home record against those above them. Whether it was experience or the disadvantage of a smaller budget that led to a mini slide, Alfreton Town enjoyed a great 2013/14 campaign daring to dream what might have been.

The Manager – Nicky Law

Highly rated by his chairman, Nicky Law has complete backing as he embarks on his eighth consecutive season at North Street. The 52 year old has a wealth of experience as a player in the eighties and nineties and a manager since the millennium. The former defender started life in management 14 years ago at Chesterfield, where he played between 1993 and 1996. He was appointed too late to save the Spireites from relegation but took them back up to the third tier straight away. Spells at Bradford city and Grimsby Town didn’t really work out and so Law dropped to the Northern Leagues to guide Buxton. In successive campaigns the Bucks won the Northern Counties East and Premier league titles. A third title was won by Law in 2010/11 taking Alfreton Town up from the Conference North to Premier. The Reds boss has never finished lower than the previous season whilst at the Impact Arena and has been influential in the clubs steady progress.

The Summer

The Reds will have to cope without their leading scorer from last season, John Akinde moves to Barnet having netted 17 goals in 44 appearances. Law was praised for his eye for talent a year ago and yet again he has looked lower down the pyramid. His first signing Nathan Hicks joins from Conference North side Leamington and will be part of the Reds midfield. Following relegation at Tamworth, Duane Courtney leaves the Warwickshire club to move to Derbyshire. Courtney made 19 appearances for the Lambs last term and has previous experience with York City and Kidderminster Harriers. In between the sticks Jon Stewart returns to North Street, the former Burnley shot stopper has spent two loan spells under Law at Alfreton Town, keeping seven clean sheets. Signing from Lincoln City, Jake Sheridan will add experience to the midfield, the 27 year old made over 90 appearances for the Imps. Luke Graham who suffered with Hereford United last season has signed a two year contract, the defender captained the Bulls in their difficult campaign which lead to their demise. Looking to youth and the Premiership, Jordan Keane served three years at Stoke City and joins the Reds after being released. For the third time Lathaniel Rowe-Turner returns to the Impact Arena, the left back has spent two loan spells with Alfreton Town. Experienced defender Chris Smith also signs a new deal having joined from FC Halifax Town.

A number of regulars leave the Impact Arena totalling 132 appearances between them last term. Dan Bradley joins John Akinde at Barnet, Connor Franklin remains in the Conference Premier with Nuneaton Town. THe Biggest mover is Josh Law who moves north of the border to ply his trade at Scottish Premier side Motherwell. Goalkeeper, Jon Worsnop also leaves North Street and signs for Chester.

 

Last Meetings vs The Darts

Alfreton Town 2 Dartford 1 – Conference Premier – 21 December 2013

A first half penalty scored by Elliot Bradbrook set up Dartford’s chance to end an eight game losing streak. In the second half and before an hour played Paul Clayton turned the game around. The Reds striker scored a brace to move Alfreton Town into fourth and inflict the Darts ninth successive loss.

Dartford 1 Alfreton Town 0 – Conference Premier – 10 August 2013

Second season syndrome started with victory over Alfreton Town for the Darts. Adam Birchall with skill by the touchline sneaked in the winner. True to form Dartford ended in a relegation place becoming the third team in a row to beat Alfreton Town on the opening day and finish in the bottom four.

Next Meetings

Sunday 28 December 2014 at North Street

Saturday 14 March 2015 at Princes Park

League Performance Last Ten Years

alfreton 10 yrsBest Performances

11th Conference Premier (2013/14) F.A Cup 2nd Round (2008/09 & 2012/13) F.A Trophy 4th Round (2002/03 & 2004/05)