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National League South Season Preview 2015/2016 – Part One

Basingstoke Town | Bath City | Bishop’s Stortford | Chelmsford City

Basingstoke Town

Founded: 1896 / Ground: The Camrose

About to embark on their twelfth consecutive campaign at National South level, Basingstoke Town unexpectedly finished last term in third spot. At the beginning of April, the Hampshire club could have stolen the title sitting two points off the top with three matches to go. Instead they had to settle for their highest ever finish and repeat the playoff appearance of four years ago. A semi final defeat to Whitehawk denied Basingstoke Town the big shot at promotion. For a club often finishing in the bottom two thirds of the league, last season was proven to be more than successful.

Last SeasonBasingstoke Town

Conference South: 3rd

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: 2nd Round

League Top Scorer: Chris Flood (13 goals)

Average Attendance: 602

The Manager – Jason Bristow

A knee injury led Jason Bristow to an early retirement after ten playing years with Basingstoke Town in central defence. Crowned the Fans Player of the Year on three occasions as well as picking up an Away Fans Player of the Season, Bristow became known as Mr Basingstoke following a community role and a testimonial. In February 2012, he was made caretaker boss following the departure of Frank Gray. An incredible end of season run earned his side a playoff spot and a permanent job.

The Summer

Trust has been placed in the squad that achieved an impressive third place. Top scorer Chris Flood secured terms for the new campaign along with Managers Player of the Year, David Ray. Tom Bird who was recognised in last season’s Conference South Team of the Year remains at The Camrose. The boss has managed to sign up goalkeeper Aaron Howe from Sutton United and defender Will Salmon from Metropolitan Police, who was named in the Isthmian Team of the Year. Simon Dunn, Nathan Smart, Robbie Rice, Jay Gasson and twice goalscorer against Dartford, Shaun McAuley are still at the Camrose three years on from the last time the club faced the Darts.

Last Meetings Versus The Darts

6 May 2012 – Dartford 2 Basingstoke Town 1 – view highlights
The only other playoff semi final appearance also ended in defeat for Basingstoke Town. At Princes Park, Dartford secured a 3-1 aggregate victory winning 2-1 on the night. Elliot Bradbrook headed the Darts in front which was cancelled out by Shaun McAuley. Luke Wilkinson put the tie beyond doubt in a match that saw Delano Sam-Yorke sent off for the visitors.

2 May 2012 – Basingstoke Town 0 Dartford 1 – view highlights
At the Camrose, Dartford took a one goal lead thanks to the playoff hero of 2012, Lee Noble. In first half injury time, the creative midfielder scored the only goal of the game, a feat he would repeat in the final against local rivals Welling United.

27 February 2012 – Dartford 4 Basingstoke Town 1 – view highlights
Inspired by Danny Harris who grabbed a hat trick, the Darts won convincingly. Harris arrived late prior the game but he was unaffected with a fine performance. Tony Garrod scored the other goal for Dartford whilst Stuart Lake’s effort was merely a consolation.

3 September 2011 – Basingstoke Town 3 Dartford 2 – view highlights
A thoroughly entertaining fixture repeated the scoreline from the campaign before. Delano Sam-Yorke had the hosts ahead before Charlie Sheringham netted from the spot. Dartford went in front through Jon Wallis but it was Basingstoke Town’s turn to come from behind with a goal from Toby Little and a winner by Shaun McAuley.

Next Meetings

Saturday 24 November 2015 at The Camrose

Saturday 16 April 2016 at Princes Park

Last Ten Years

btfc last 10 years

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Bath City

Founded: 1889 / Ground: Twerton Park

A brief flirtation with the Conference Premier just five years ago ended with a top ten finish then relegation the following season. Bath City may have experience of the top flight of non league football, being founder members of the Alliance League, but have spent the majority of their history at step two. Three campaigns in the Conference South have seen the Somerset side three points off the playoffs sandwiched between two mid table finishes. Last term was defined with a run to the F.A Trophy semi-finals where they lost to surprise winners North Ferriby United. The club are being backed by the fans who are trying to raise money during struggling times.

Last SeasonBath_City_FC

Conference South: 14th

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: Semi-Finals

County Cup: Quarter-Finals

League Top Scorer: David Pratt (18 goals)

Average Attendance: 491

The Manager – Lee Howells

Apart from a brief playing spell in Australia, Lee Howells has spent his career in the West of England. As a midfielder, he made over 350 appearances for Cheltenham Town winning the 1998 F.A Trophy final. Howells was part of the Robins squad who won promotion to the Football League. His fledgling management career may have began in 2006 at Mangotsfield United, however the 46 year old spent five years away from any manager’s role before returning with Bath City. As an assistant he helped the Romans to promotion to the Conference Premier before being appointed boss in June 2012.

The Summer

Howells has gone for experience at the heart of defence starting with newly acquired goalkeeper Steve Phillips. Signed from his local team Shepton Mallet, Phillips has over 500 Football League appearances under his belt with both Bristol clubs and Crewe Alexandra. Defensive duo Sekani Simpson and Dan Ball sign new contracts and last season’s top scorer David Pratt commits to another campaign, the striker has scored 40 goals in 96 games for the Romans. Winger, Joe McClennan joins from Weston Super-Mare and attacking player Jon Davies from Paulton Rovers. Frankie Artus was a key player last term and the Manager’s Player of the Year will be part of the Bath City squad again.

Last Meetings Versus The Darts

7 April 1990 – Dartford 0 Bath City 1
With both sides challenging for league title, Bath City put a serious dent in Dartford’s hopes. After the Darts lost to Chelmsford City, the visitors to Watling Street went home with all three points. Bath City would fall short by finishing runners up, one place above Dartford.

9 September 1989 – Bath City 0 Dartford 0
The Romans were the first side to take points off Dartford who had won their opening five Southern Premier League fixtures. Peter Taylor’s side were held to a goalless draw at Twerton Park and wouldn’t drop another point for three more matches.

Next Meetings

Saturday 5 September 2015 at Twerton Park

Saturday 16 January 2016 at Princes Park

Last Ten Years

bcfc last 10 years

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Bishop’s Stortford

Founded: 1874 / Ground: Woodside Park

Even a brief absence from the Conference South failed to break the consistency of Bishop’s Stortford. The Hertfordshire based club finished in the bottom third of the table for the previous three campaigns, whether in the southern or northern section of step two. The Bishops were forced to move from south to north in 2011 but returned after two years. Over the last decade, Bishop’s Stortford have produced one playoff appearance in 2007 and a four top ten finishes. The Bishops moment of glory came 34 years ago when they lifted the F.A Trophy and in the same season were crowned champions of Isthmian Division One.

Bishops stortfordLast Season

Conference South: 16th

F.A Cup: 1st Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Mikkel Suarez & Anthony Church (8 goals)

Average Attendance: 389

The Manager – Rod Stringer

Having been successful in his previous two managerial jobs, Stringer was appointed Bishop’s Stortford boss in December 2011. He took Aveley to the Isthmian League Division One North title in the 2008/09 campaign and earned a move to Braintree Town. Stringer guided the Iron to Conference South glory winning the championship four years ago. In that very summer the former non league player walked out of Braintree Town over a car dispute as well as the playing budget. Now the 40 year old believes with the right backing his team can reach the playoffs for the first time in nine attempts.

The Summer

A busy summer of new signings give cause for optimism as Rod Stringer tries to avoid a relegation battle like last term. Adam Bailey-Dennis and Elliot Buchanan won the Conference South just over three months ago and the pair joins from Bromley. Paul Goodacre, helped Dartford to promotion to the Conference Premier in 2012 and made a total 88 appearances for the club, the central defender departs East Thurrock United for Woodside Park. Also moving from Essex to Hertfordshire is Tom Lovelock from Chelmsford City and Jay Dowie from Concord Rangers. Former Welling United player DeReece Vandehyde joins from Maidenhead United and Billy Lobjoit switches from the north to south having played for Gainsborough Trinity last season. Meanwhile, former Dartford striker Mikkel Suarez agrees a new contract as well as joint top scorer Anthony Church.

Last Meetings Versus The Darts

29 January 2011 – Bishop’s Stortford 0 Dartford 1 – view highlights
Dartford kept another clean sheet and with Charlie Sheringham’s 74th minute goal took home the three points. For the hosts it was their fifth straight defeat in a dreadful run of a fifteen winless games. The Darts hit a purple patch with four successive wins including three clean sheets.

24 August 2010 – Dartford 3 Bishop’s Stortford 0 – view highlights
Newly promoted Dartford took four games to register a first Conference South win and they did it comfortably. Danny Harris scored against his former club minutes before the visitors had a penalty saved by Andrew Young. The lead was doubled prior the break through Charlie Sheringham and Carl Rook wrapped things up with a third.

Next Meetings

Saturday 24 October 2015 at Woodside Park

Saturday 26 March 2016 at Princes Park

Last Ten Yearsbsfc last 10 years

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Chelmsford City

Founded: 1878 / Ground: Melbourne Stadium

Over the last two seasons Chelmsford City have not reached the levels of expectations set upon them. The 2007/08 Isthmian Premier League champions easily fitted in to a promotion push to non league’s top flight. Four playoff appearances in five years all ended in semi-final disappointment. The Clarets have had to settle for a lowly seventeenth place finish and an improved tenth spot in their last two campaigns. The Essex club have four Southern League titles in their honours list and with a sizeable support the club are waiting for the right ingredients to go beyond the National League South.

ChelmsfordCityFCLast Season

Conference South: 10th

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: 4th Round

League Top Scorer: Michael Cheek (15 goals)

Average Attendance: 690

The Manager – Mark Hawkes

Vowing to ‘wake a sleeping giant’, Mark Hawkes has ambitions to attract the quality to push Chelmsford City to the next level. The Clarets boss jumped at the chance to manage the Essex club back in November 2013 when he moved up two divisions. Hawkes led Heybridge Swifts to second in the Isthmian Division One which grabbed the attention of Chelmsford City. Since his arrival at Melbourne Park, he has steadied the club after the club’s poor spell under Dean Holdsworth, steering the Clarets away from the relegation zone. Last season Hawkes guided Chelmsford City to a top ten finish in his first full campaign in charge.

The Summer

In April, the Clarets boss stated he needed experience and so the highlight for Chelmsford City fans is the return of midfielder Billy Bricknell, after spells with Ebbsfleet United and Maidstone United. Former loanee and Dartford defender Rory McAuley will add quality to the back four, with Conference Premier experience he spent a month on loan under Hawkes in 2013/14. Ashley Miller comes in from Bishop’s Stortford as Tom Lovelock goes the other way. Ashley Timms signs from Maidenhead United and Charlie Henry from Team Wellington.

Last Meetings Versus The Darts

7 April 2012 – Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 0 – view highlights
Dropped points for the Darts put a dent in the Conference South title quest, whilst a point for the Clarets aided their playoff aspirations. The visitors were resilient in defence and when Dartford’s Luke Wilkinson was dismissed in the closing stages a 0-0 draw seemed inevitable.

27 August 2011 – Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 0 – view highlights
The Darts led the Conference South table in its fledgling stages and prior kick off were unbeaten. Whilst the Darts run continued they were knocked off top spot dropping to third. Not for the first time the deadlock wasn’t broken in a match where the defence came out tops.

Next Meetings

Saturday 26 December 2015 at Melbourne Stadium

Saturday 2 January 2016 at Princes Park

Last Ten Years

ccfc last ten years

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