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National League South Season Preview 2016/2017 – (Final Part)

Wealdstone | Welling United | Weston-Super-Mare | Whitehawk

Wealdstone

Founded: 1899 / Ground: The Vale Stadium

The draw specialists of the National South were difficult to beat last season, the Stones lost the same as promoted Maidstone United but only bottom side Basingstoke Town won fewer. A slow start last term left the Middlesex club second from bottom with just a point in their opening six fixtures. The next seven matches set the tone for the rest of the season when they won four and drew three leaving them in mid-table for the remainder of their campaign. 

wealdstoneLast Season

National South: 13th

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: 2nd Round

League Top Scorer: Bradley Hudson-Odoi (11 goals)

The Manager – Gordon Bartlett

Wealdstone were homeless when Gordon Bartlett took charge in June 1995 and playing in the Isthmian Division Three. The long serving manager won back to back promotions and was denied a third consecutive one due to the standards of the ground the Stones were sharing. Bartlett was in charge when the Middlesex club returned home in 2008 and since then guided them to a F.A Trophy semi-final and two playoff semi-final defeats. Finally, Bartlett won another title to earn promotion to the National South where Wealdstone finished twelfth in the first season and fifteenth last term. Now about to begin his twenty second season with the Stones, Bartlett is by far the longest serving manager currently in the National South. 

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 11 / Wealdstone wins: 13 / Draws: 11

Previous Meetings

26.01.2016 Dartford 1 Wealdstone 2
03.10.2015 Wealdstone 2 Dartford 1
21.02.2012 Wealdstone 1 Dartford 0
14.02.2012 Dartford 2 Wealdstone 2
20.04.2010 Wealdstone 1 Dartford 1
29.08.2009 Dartford 1 Wealdstone 1

Next Meetings

Saturday 6 August 2016 at Princes Park

Saturday 28 January 2017 at the Vale Stadium

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Welling United

Founded: 1963 / Ground: Park View Road

When the Wings won four National League games in a row at the end of September, Welling United thought the tide had turned. The Kent club were second from bottom but pulled themselves out of trouble temporarily. In truth, the victories masked a season of struggle. From their highest point of the campaign the Wings slumped into the relegation zone and went on a 23 match winless run. The Kent club finished five points adrift at the bottom of the National League and ended up fourteen points shy of safety. They now return to the National South after a three year absence. 

Last SeasonWelling

National League: 24th

F.A Cup: 2nd Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: 1st Round

League Top Scorer: Sahr Kabba (6 goals)

The Manager – Mark Goldberg

Once owner now manager, Mark Goldberg purchased Crystal Palace in the mid-nineties only for the adventure to end in administration. Since then he has managed Bromley on three occasions and is their most successful manager taking them to the National League. The winner of three senior cups, Goldberg won promotion with Bromley via the Isthmian Premier playoffs and as champions of the National South. In his second spell he left due to an internal disagreement but was brought back when a new Chairman was appointed. In February, Goldberg decided to step down under pressure from Bromley’s owners. Towards the end of Welling United’s campaign in last season’s National League, Goldberg was in charge and now he will be aiming for immediate return to the top flight of non league with the Wings. 

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 16 / Welling United wins: 6 / Draws: 9

Previous Meetings

19.10.2015 Dartford 3 Welling United 1
11.11.2014 Dartford 2 Welling United 1
30.09.2014 Welling United 2 Dartford 2
10.01.2014 Welling United 1 Dartford 1
26.12.2013 Dartford 1 Welling United 2
03.09.2013 Welling United 2 Dartford 3

Next Meetings

Tuesday 6 September 2016 at Princes Park

Saturday 21 January 2017 at Park View Road

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Weston-Super-Mare

Founded: 1887 / Ground: Woodspring Stadium

The Seagulls looked nailed on relegation candidates halfway through November. Weston-Super-Mare had won just three of their opening sixteen games sinking to second from bottom. Suddenly, the Seagulls found their scoring boots in a nine match unbeaten run including three 3-2 wins, a 5-2 and 4-1 triumph and an incredible 5-5 draw with Hemel Hempstead Town. Although the Somerset side returned to inconsistency they ended the campaign strongly beating runners up Ebbsfleet United then winning five of their last seven fixtures. 

Weston-super-Mare_AFC_logoLast Season

Conference South: 16th

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: Semi-final

League Top Scorer: Scott Wilson (19 goals)

The Manager – Ryan Northmore

A rookie compared to the majority of the managers in the National South, Ryan Northmore has playing history with the Seagulls as a goalkeeper. Making over 200 appearances for Weston-Super-Mare he won Player of the Year for three consecutive seasons for the club. Initially drafted in as Caretaker Manager when the Seagulls were in the middle of an eight match losing streak, the 35 year old steadied the sinking ship earning his role permanently. Last term was the former Torquay United goalkeeper’s first full season. After a tricky opening to the campaign he managed to guide the Seagulls one position higher than the previous year. 

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 4 / Weston-Super-Mare wins: 2 /  Draws: 4

Previous Meetings 

05.03.2016 Weston-Super-Mare 2 Dartford 1
13.09.2015 Dartford 2 Weston-Super-Mare 1
12.11.2011 Dartford 1 Weston-Super-Mare 1
13.08.2011 Weston-Super-Mare 0 Dartford 4
08.02.2011 Weston-Super-Mare 0 Dartford 1
04.09.2010 Dartford 4 Weston-Super-Mare 1

Next Meetings

Saturday 20 August 2016 at Woodspring Stadium

Saturday 14 January 2017 at Princes Park

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Whitehawk

Founded: 1945 / Ground: Enclosed Ground

A 6-0 win in October over St Albans City put Whitehawk in a strong position, third place after a dozen games and just one loss. An entertaining 5-3 F.A Cup win over Lincoln City followed by a 1-1 draw away to Dagenham and Redbridge in the next round, the Hawks were gaining national coverage then they drew Everton. Unfortunately, the Sussex club lost the replay and during the cup run league form dipped. After the second round exit, the Hawks went nine games without victory. At the start of April, Whitehawk had seven fixtures to fulfil and were in fifteenth, and then they pulled the trick out of the hat. Winning six of their last seven, dropping just two points they grabbed the final playoff spot only to lose on penalties to Ebbsfleet United in the semi-final. 

Whitehawk_F.C._logoLast Season

National South: 5th

F.A Cup: 2nd Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: Semi-final

League Top Scorer: Danny Mills (23 goals)

The Manager – Pablo Asensio

Born in Argentina and a former professional footballer, it is no surprise Asensio will call upon his knowledge of South American football when recruiting for Whitehawk. The former midfielder took his coaching badges in England and held roles at Droylsden and Accrington Stanley. The 43 year old became an observer to Gus Poyet at Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur, briefly managed in the Spanish Segunda División B and continued his learning in the North West with Southport, who he took to seventh in the National League. Asensio didn’t have to move far for his next job when he joined Macclesfield Town but now he will work on the South Coast with Whitehawk, where he was Caretaker manager last term.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 /Whitehawk wins: 2 / Draws: 0

Previous Meetings 

12.03.2016 Dartford 2 Whitehawk 4
19.12.2015 Whitehawk 0 Dartford 1
28.11.2015 Dartford 1 Whitehawk 2
04.09.1982 Dartford 5 Whitehawk 2

Next Meetings

Wednesday 10 August 2016 at Enclosed Ground

Saturday 4 February 2017 at Princes Park

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National League South Season Preview 2016/2017 (O-T)

 Oxford City | Poole Town | St Albans City | Truro City

Oxford City

Founded: 1882 / Ground: Marsh Lane

Switched from the National North to the South at the beginning of last season, the Nomads were in their fourth season at this level. Oxford City with their Spanish influence started the campaign scoring goals and racking up the points. Up until mid November, only eventual relegated side Havant and Waterlooville had beaten them albeit twice. That left the Oxfordshire club in second spot and one of the front runners to keep pace with Ebbsfleet United. After their second defeat to the Hawks, Oxford City slipped down the table tasting victory just twice in the following fourteen attempts. Three consecutive wins including a 5-1 win versus Concord Rangers gave them a chance of a playoff place but then they took just two more points in their final eight matches. 

OCFCLast Season

National South: 12th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Round

County Cup: Runners-up

League Top Scorer: Bradley Bubb (18 goals)

The Manager – Justin Merrit

Ten years ago Justin Merritt became Player Manager for the Nomads in a spell that lasted almost three years. In that time Merritt guided Oxford City to the Southern Premier League beating Uxbridge in a playoff final. The first campaign in the higher division saw the club miss out on a top five finish by three points but they were unable to repeat the feat languishing in mid-table the following season’s. Merritt stepped down in August 2009 but returned two years ago, this time in the National North. Once again Merritt’s side missed out on a playoff spot by just a point this time and a switch to the National South started with promise before a mid-table finish. 

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / Oxford City wins: 1 / Draws: 2

Previous Meetings

23.04.2016 Dartford 2 Oxford City 2
15.09.2015 Oxford City 2 Dartford 1
04.11.2008 Oxford City 2 Dartford 4
01.11.2008 Dartford 3 Oxford City 3

Next Meetings

Saturday 29 October 2016 at Princes Park

Saturday 25 February 2017 at Marsh Lane

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Poole Town

Founded: 1880 / Ground: Tatnam Ground

A year ago The Dolphins led the Southern Premier League going into the final game of the season. Their opponents Corby Town were second and the two met in a winner takes all showdown. Poole Town lost and were unable to recover in the playoffs. Last term, the Dorset club bounced back in style winning the championship. During the crucial run in, Poole Town dropped just two points in the final eight fixtures conceding just once. The Dolphins scored three or more in a game on fourteen occasions and kept 25 clean sheets, more than half of the league games they played.  

Last SeasonPooleTownFC

Southern Premier: 1st

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Qualifying Round

County Cup: Quarter-final

League Top Scorer: Marvin Brooks (16 goals)

The Manager – Tom Killick

Since joining Poole Town twelve years ago, the Dorset club have been looking upwards. In his first full season with the Dolphins, Killick led them to promotion, won three consecutive Wessex League titles and thee Southern League Division One South and West championship. Two years ago, Killick’s side were narrowly beaten to the Southern Premier League, his only other setback was a playoff defeat in 2012. The Poole Town boss responded by winning yet another title with Poole Town taking them to the National South. Over 600 games in charge of the Dorset club he has an impressive win ratio of 67%. 

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 14 / Poole Town wins: 15 / Draws: 5

Previous Meetings

14.03.1992 Dartford 4 Poole Town 0
02.11.1991 Poole Town 0 Dartford 0
06.04.1991 Poole Town 1 Dartford 0
24.11.1990 Dartford 0 Poole Town 0
14.03.1983 Dartford 0 Poole Town 1
08.03.1983 Poole Town 2 Dartford 3

Next Meetings

Saturday 3 December 2016 at Princes Park

Saturday 29 April 2017 at Tatnam Ground

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St Albans City

Founded: 1908 / Ground: Clarence Park

If one team summed up St Albans City then it was Whitehawk. When the sides faced each other in October the Saints were thrashed 6-0. The Hertfordshire club spent the majority of the campaign battling the drop picking up a meagre five wins from their first thirty. The club looked doomed to relegation back to the Southern Premier League after a two year absence. In February the turning point arrived under the stewardship of the experienced Ian Allinson. It was St Albans City’s turn to thrash Whitehawk 6-0 and from then on they lost just two of their last dozen games, against the two promoted sides Sutton United and Maidstone United. Over their last three games they beat relegation rival Havant and Waterlooville 6-0 and signed of in style with a 4-0 victory over Dartford. 

stalbansLast Season

National South: 18th

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Semi-Final

League Top Scorer: Louie Theophanus (18 goals)

The Managers – Ian Allinson

A seventeen year playing career including a five year spell with Arsenal and a managerial career spanning twenty seven years, Allinson is full of experience. The former Colchester United, Stoke City and Luton Town winger has had most of his success at Boreham Wood as a manager. In charge at the Wood from 2008, he won promotion twice through the playoffs taking the un-fancied Hertfordshire club to the National League. In October 2015 he resigned due to work commitments but was back in the dugout with rivals St Albans City. The 58 year old turned the Saints fortunes around leading them to National South safety winning eight out of fifteen league games since being at the helm.  

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 6 / St Albans City wins: 1 / Draws: 4

Previous Meetings

30.04.2016 St Albans City 4 Dartford 0
06.02.2016 Dartford 2 St Albans City 0
02.04.2011 St Albans City 1 Dartford 2
22.03.2011 Dartford 2 St Albans City 2
25.11.2008 Dartford 1 St Albans City 1
22.11.2008 St Albans City 0 Dartford 0

Next Meetings

Saturday 15 October 2016 at Princes Park

Saturday 25 March 2017 at Clarence Park

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Truro City

Founded: 1889 / Ground: Treyew Road

If one club in the National South has been on a roller coaster ride over the last few years then it’s Truro City. Their speedy rise to the National South eventually led to financial problems resulting in relegation to the Southern Premier. Even though the White Tigers were absent for two years their return to the National South last term looked as though they were never away. In their first season back they reached the playoff semi-final and from February they maintained a top five place, finally finishing fourth. The hard work was done when they lost just one in 22 games between September and mid-March. Although the campaign ended with one win in seven the Cornwall club had a fine return. 

Truro-city-football-clubLast Season

National South: 4th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: Did not enter

League Top Scorer: Isaac Vassell (10 goals)

The Manager – Lee Hodges

Three years ago Truro City parted company with Lee Hodges, which seemed harsh considering the state the club were in at the time. In 2010, he took over the White Tigers as Caretaker Manager and won the Southern Premier League title in his first season. In the National South the club nearly went out of business due to financial mismanagement meaning Hodges lost his job, the Cornwall club could no longer afford him. Now the former midfielder inherits a side back in the National South who reached the playoffs last term. Taking over from Steve Tully, Hodges will feel there in unfinished business at Treyew Road. 

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 0 / Truro City wins: 3 / Draws: 1

Previous Meetings

05.04.2016 Truro City 3 Dartford 0
19.09.2015 Dartford 0 Truro City 1
28.04.2012 Truro  City 1 Dartford 1
22.10.2011 Dartford 1 Truro  City 2

Next Meetings

Saturday 8 October 2016 at Treyew Road

Saturday 18 March 2017 at Princes Park

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National League South Season Preview 2016/2017 (H-M)

 Hampton and Richmond Borough | Hemel Hempstead Town | Hungerford Town | Maidenhead United | Margate

Hampton and Richmond Borough

Founded: 1921 / Ground: The Beveree

Pushed right to the final day of the Isthmian Premier League campaign, Hampton and Richmond Borough won the title with 0-0 draw at home to Enfield Town in their last game. Amassing an impressive 95 points, the Middlesex club scored 105 goals to return to the National South after a four year absence. Seven consecutive victories in January and February applied pressure to the front runners and from the first week in March they held on to top spot. The only weakness shown was a below par record away from home against the top eight adding to the excitement of a closely ran title race with Bognor Regis Town. Borough became the first team to win the Isthmian Premier League twice since the non league pyramid was reformed in 2004. 

Last SeasonHampton-Richmond-badge

Isthmian Premier: 1st

F.A Cup: 1st Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Quarter-Final

League Top Scorer: Nicke Kabamba (18 goals)

The Manager – Alan Dowson

Most of Alan Dowson’s managerial career has been with Kingstonian where he won the Isthmian Division One South. The K’s almost went up twice more but playoff defeats prevented progress. A former defender as a player he entered the managerial world with Walton and Hersham starting out as Player Manager. Dowson was appointed boss of Hampton and Richmond nearly two years ago and was joined by commentator Martin Tyler, who worked with Dowson at Kingstonian. After a mid-table finish in his first season he claimed another title taking the Beavers up as Isthmian Premier League champions last term. 

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 3 / Hampton and Richmond Borough wins: 3 / Draws: 0

Previous Meetings

21.01.2012 Hampton & Richmond Borough 1 Dartford 3
20.08.2011 Dartford 2 Hampton & Richmond Borough 1
19.02.2011 Dartford 0 Hampton & Richmond Borough 4
17.08.2010 Hampton & Richmond Borough 1 Dartford 0
27.09.2008 Dartford 0 Hampton & Richmond Borough 1
19.09.1970 Hampton 0 Dartford 1

Next Meetings

Monday 29 August 2016 at the Beveree Stadium

Monday 17 April 2017 at Princes Park

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Hemel Hempstead Town

Founded: 1885 / Ground: Vauxhall Road

Another solid season saw the Tudors finish in their highest ever league position. Despite gaining a point less than the previous campaign, Hemel Hempstead Town almost made the playoffs. Back to back defeats at the end of the season finally cost the club along with too many draws over the entire season. What the Tudors did occasionally bring to the league were high scoring matches most notably a 5-5 draw with Weston-Super-Mare, the highest score draw ever in the National South. In the end the campaign was pleasing for Hemel Hempstead Town who improved their final league standing for the fourth consecutive year. 

Hemel_Hempstead_Town_F.CLast Season

National South: 6th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: 2nd Round

League Top Scorer: Jamie Slabber (12 goals)

The Manager – Dean Brennan

Hemel Hempstead Town were struggling before Dean Brennan’s appointment in May 2012. The Tudors were reprieved from the Southern Premier League two seasons in a row and had not finished higher the fifteenth, in the three campaigns before the Irishman joined the Hertfordshire club. Brennan managed to guide the Tudors to their highest ever position in his first full campaign and had improved on this record ever since. A playoff defeat, a storming Southern Premier League title triumph and an eighth place finish in the National South was bettered by last term’s sixth spot. 

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / Hemel Hempstead Town wins: 1 / Draws: 1

Previous Meetings

17.10.2015 Dartford 2 Hemel Hempstead Town 2
08.08.2015 Hemel Hempstead Town 1 Dartford 0
16.09.1972 Hemel Hempstead 2 Dartford 9

Next Meetings

Saturday 12 November 2016 at Princes Park

Saturday 1 April 2017 at Vauxhall Road

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Hungerford Town

Founded: 1886 / Ground: Bulpit Lane

A new face at National South level achieved promotion through the Southern Premier League playoffs. Set to play at their highest level during a 130 year history, the Crusaders having only just been plotting their rise through the leagues after years of struggle. The Berkshire club were amongst the top five from October onwards and a solid defence which kept an impressive 22 clean sheets gave them solid foundations. Hungerford Town beat Hitchin Town 3-2 in the semi-final having been two goals down. In the final they won 2-1 against Leamington and once more had to come from behind, like the semi-final the winner came five minutes from time. Now the club step into the unknown. 

Last SeasonHungerfordTownFC

Southern Premier: 4th

F.A Cup: 1st Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: 1st Round

League Top Scorer: Nathaniel Jarvis (19 goals)

The Manager – Bobby Wilkinson

Took to coaching at a young age due to an injury in his playing career, the former Reading and Fulham player worked under Mark McGhee, Brendon Rogers and Brian McDermott. Bobby Wilkinson has also been part of the Royals backroom team before gaining non-league experience at Didcot Town Reserves, Kintbury Rangers and Milton United. Wilkinson has been in charge of Hungerford Town now for six years and has taken the Berkshire club to their highest ever level of football. He has overseen two playoff final victories to take the Crusaders from the Southern League Division One South and West to the National South and has been highly praised for his work. 

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 0 / Hungerford Town wins: 0 / Draws: 0

Next Meetings

Saturday 27 August 2016 at Princes Park

Saturday 15 April 2017 at Bulpit Lane

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Maidenhead United

Founded: 1870 / Ground: York Road

One of a handful of clubs hoping to achieve at least a playoff spot last season, Maidenhead United blew hot and cold. The Magpies had the second best home record behind champions Sutton United. For a team that managed a seventh place finish that meant their away form wasn’t so impressive. The Berkshire side drifted in and out of the top five mainly due to the amount of fixtures rescheduled due to postponements and ground sharing with Hayes and Yeading United. Strangely enough it was the Winter snap when they suffered, going on a run of one win in thirteen. When the Magpies faced a fixture backlog they handled the schedule better, bringing themselves into the playoff race they fell just short. 

Maidenhead United

Last Season

National South: 7th

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: Quarter-final

League Top Scorer: Dave Tarpey (16 goals)

The Manager – Alan Devonshire

In a second spell with Maidenhead United, Alan Devonshire first managed the club back in 1996. The former F.A Cup winner as a player with West Ham United earned a few cup triumphs with the Magpies at league and county level as a manager. Devonshire then led the Berkshire club to promotion in 2000 to the Isthmian Premier League. The 60 year old had even more success at Hampton and Richmond Borough then Braintree Town getting both sides up the non-league pyramid. Last summer he returned to Maidenhead United for part two and missed out on a top five place. Capped eight times for England, Devonshire has built a good reputation in the dugout and has plenty of experience. 

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 7 / Maidenhead United wins: 2 / Draws: 3

Previous Meetings

02.04.2016 Dartford 2 Maidenhead United 0
15.03.2016 Maidenhead United 2 Dartford 1
31.03.2012 Dartford 2 Maidenhead United 1
13.03.2012 Maidenhead United 1 Dartford 1
30.04.2011 Maidenhead United 2 Dartford 3
05.03.2011 Dartford 3 Maidenhead United 0

Next Meetings

Saturday 3 September 2016 at Princes Park

Saturday 17 December 2016 at York Road

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Margate

Founded: 1896 / Ground: Hartsdown Park

One more goal conceded would have sent the Gate back down to the Isthmian Premier League. Staring relegation in the face Havant and Waterlooville let in a goal twenty minutes time against Weston-Super-Mare moving Margate outside the drop zone. When Margate let in another, to go 2-0 down against Bath City, one more goal would have been disastrous. Although it took a while to get used to the National South the Kent club’s wheels well and truly fell off when they lost their backing. Terry Brown departed in December and Nikki Bull earned the manager’s job when he won eight out of the next eleven, drawing twice. Weeks of rumours about Bob Laslett, the owner stepping down led to a downturn in form and in March he finally stood down. In this period of uncertainly the Gate lost ten in a row before the penultimate game which gave them a lifeline, a 4-3 win at home to Hemel Hempstead Town. 

MargateFCLast Season

Conference South: 19th

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: 1st Round

League Top Scorer: Freddie Ladapo (12 goals)

The Manager – Nikki Bull

With only seven months managerial experience Nikki Bull has had to learn quickly. When he replaced Terry Brown in December 2015, the Gate were not heading in the direction the owners had hoped for. Bull improved results and his side climbed the National South, until their backer pulled out. Life in a difficult environment began and in the end Bull kept Margate in the division. The former Aldershot Town goalkeeper played most of his career in Hampshire making almost 300 appearances for the Shots, where he won promotion to the Football League. He also spent a few years at Wycombe Wanderers making over a century of appearances and was part of the promotion winning team five years ago.  

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 45 / Margate wins: 42 / Draws: 29

Previous Meetings

28.12.2015 Dartford 1 Margate 1
29.08.2015 Margate 0 Dartford 2
23.03.2010 Dartford 0 Margate 1
18.08.2009 Margate 0 Dartford 4
07.03.2009 Margate 2 Dartford 2
02.12.2008 Dartford 3 Margate 2

Next Meetings

Tuesday 13 September 2016 at Hartsdown Park

Tuesday 21 March 2017 at Princes Park

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National League South Season Preview 2016/2017 (D-G)

 Dartford | Eastbourne Borough | East Thurrock United | Ebbsfleet United | Gosport Borough

Dartford

Founded: 1888 / Ground: Princes Park

A National League reprieve followed by relegation meant the Darts were hoping for at least a playoff spot. Dartford’s return to the National South after a three year absence started inconsistently. A three match losing streak and early cup exits put pressure on the club until an eleven game unbeaten run put Dartford in with a shout of a top five finish. Every time their goal edged closer they just seemed to be unable to get over that dotted line. On the final day the Kent Senior Cup winners still had a long shot but it was too much to ask so they settled for stability.

DartfordLast Season

National South: 8th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Elliot Bradbrook (17 goals)

The Manager – Tony Burman

There is no questioning Tony Burman’s loyalty to the club and over the last three season’s there has been pockets of pressure. The 58 year old has won three promotions and two Kent Senior Cups in his current spell with the Darts and he’s won promotion from the Kent League to the Southern League as well as the Kent Senior Trophy in previous spells. The only blemish is two back to back bottom three finishes in the National League, however he was the man to take Dartford up to the top non-league division and reach eighth place. Burman has enjoyed longevity as manager and is also the club’s all time top goalscorer.

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Eastbourne Borough

Founded: 1964 / Ground: Priory Lane

A fifth season in the National South turned out to be unpredictable for the Sports. Their opening two games ended in defeat but they bounced back with four consecutive victories and that was as good as it got. In the end the Sussex club finish just three points above the relegation zone. The one positive was that the Sports had a decent goal difference for a side in the lower third of the table so never really looked threatened. Eastbourne Borough on their day were capable of big scores like the 5-1 win over Basingstoke Town or the 5-2 victory over Bath City. They could also leak goals with back to back 4-4 and 3-3 draws in February. They managed to beat teams around them but took just three points away from home against those in the top ten.

ebfcLast Season

National South: 17th

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Nathaniel Pinney (18 goals)

The Manager – Tommy Widdrington

The former midfielder can draw upon his successful playing career in which he achieved four promotions and two Football League Trophy triumphs. Since February 2012, Tommy Widdrington has stabilised Eastbourne Borough who had just fallen out of the National League the campaign before his appointment. Last season was his lowest finish at the Sports in a full season at the club having pushed for a top ten spot in the previous three years. Widdrington did however win some silverware for the club when they triumphed in the Sussex Senior Cup beating Worthing in the final.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 6 / Eastbourne Borough wins: 4 / Draws: 2

Previous Meetings

20.02.2016 Eastbourne Borough 1 Dartford 1
11.08.2015 Dartford 1 Eastbourne Borough 0
03.04.2012 Eastbourne Borough 0 Dartford 1
29.11.2011 Dartford 2 Eastbourne Borough 1
26.11.2011 Eastbourne Borough 0 Dartford 0
16.08.2011 Dartford 2 Eastbourne Borough 1

Next Meetings

Saturday 5 November 2016 at Priory Lane

Sunday 8 April 2017 at Princes Park

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East Thurrock United

Founded: 1969 / Ground: Rookery Hill

The Rocks set a new club record last season with their highest ever league finish. East Thurrock United were unlucky not to finish in the top two after amassing 91 points, the most by a third place club in the Isthmian Premier since the reforming of the non league pyramid. The Essex club topped the table in February but the excellent form of champions Hampton and Richmond as well as Bognor Regis Town prevented them from grabbing the title. East Thurrock United outscored anyone in the Isthmian Premier with an impressive 107 goals; they scored four or more times on an incredible 11 occasions.

Last SeasonETUFC

Isthmian Premier: 3rd

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: 4th Round

League Top Scorer: Sam Higgins (38 goals)

The Manager – John Coventry

East Thurrock United needed rebuilding following relegation to the Isthmian Division One in 2008. The astuteness and coaching experience of John Coventry has had a large part to play in the Rocks rise to the National South. Three years ago, the Essex club won the playoffs to reach the Isthmian Premier League. Last term a second playoff triumph has led them to their highest level of football. Coventry builds his squad around togetherness and is often on the lookout for discovering young players, his background with coaching a district youth side helps in this area. 

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 0 / East Thurrock United wins: 2 / Draws: 0

Previous Meetings

30.04.2005 Dartford 0 East Thurrock United 3
28.08.2004 East Thurrock United 2 Dartford 1

Next Meetings

Saturday 10 September 2016 at Rookery Hill

Saturday 7 January 2017 at Princes Park

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Ebbsfleet United

Founded: 1946 / Ground: Stonebridge Road

Money doesn’t always guarantee success and that proved the case for runners up Ebbsfleet United last term. The Kent side led the National South for a total of 34 matchdays, dropped just two points in their opening 11 fixtures and had quality and numbers in their squad. Backed by KEH Sports Limited, the Fleet suffered their first away defeat on Good Friday, drew with local rivals Dartford on Easter Monday then lost the important clash with champions Sutton United in their penultimate game, handing the title to the U’s. Any other campaign and it would have been a success but since the turn of the year wins turned into draws and slowly their lead was eaten away. The last straw came in the penalty shoot out playoff final defeat to Kent rivals Maidstone United. Now the Fleet will aim for the title again. 

EUFClogoLast Season

National South: 2nd

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: Quarter Final

County Cup: Semi-final

League Top Scorer: Matthew Godden (26 goals)

The Manager – Daryl McMahon

When your first managerial job includes a big budget, a large squad and your team being branded as favourites then that is a lot of pressure to take. Daryl McMahon completed his first full season in charge last term and it ended in disappointment, normally a second place finish in your debut campaign would be seen as a success. Given another chance through the playoffs the Fleet lost by the narrowest of margins in a penalty shootout. McMahon has kept hold of his job so must have impressed the owners and will need to go one better this season with a trimmer squad.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 116 / Ebbsfleet United wins: 108 / Draws 91

Previous Meetings

28.03.2016 Ebbsfleet United 1 Dartford 1
31.08.2015 Dartford 0 Ebbsfleet United 1
29.10.2013 Dartford 1 Ebbsfleet United 0
26.10.2013 Ebbsfleet United 1 Dartford 1
01.01.2013 Ebbsfleet United 2 Dartford 2
26.12.2012 Dartford 3 Ebbsfleet United 1

Next Meetings

Monday 26 December 2016 at Princes Park

Sunday 1 January 2017 at Stonebridge Road

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Gosport Borough

Founded: 1944 / Ground: Privett Park

If the season ended mid February then the Borough would have been delighted with what they achieved. Up to that moment in time the Hampshire club were fourth in the league spurred on by the goals supplied by Justin Bennett. Unbeaten after their first eight fixtures gave the club solid foundations to build on and despite slight wobbles in September and October, Gosport Borough regained their form with just two defeats in twelve. Then the tables turned, the Borough lost ten of their final fifteen league matches picking up just two more victories. The end of season slide included 6-1 and 5-2 defeats to Chelmsford City and relegated Hayes and Yeading United respectively.

Gosport_BoroughLast Season

National South: 9th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: 2nd Round

League Top Scorer: Justin Bennett (23 goals)

The Manager – Alex Pike

Over ten years at the helm as manager of Gosport Borough, Alex Pike has had plenty of success during his managerial career. He guided Boro to the Wessex League title, won two promotions through the Southern League via the playoffs, reached the F.A Trophy final and claimed the Hampshire Senior Cup. With all that success behind him Pike is now being tested in the National South and it hasn’t been simple. Going well until the New Year by leading the club to the playoff places, financial problems threw a spanner in the works and left Pike questioning whether he could continue. Luckily for Gosport Borough he agreed to remain at Privett Park for the season ahead. 

Head To Head

Dartford wins: 10 / Gosport Borough wins: 5 / Draws: 3

Previous Meetings

23.02.2016 Gosport Borough 1 Dartford 3
22.08.2015 Dartford 2 Gosport Borough 3
24.10.1989 Gosport Borough 0 Dartford 1
22.08.1989 Dartford 5 Gosport Borough 1
04.04.1989 Dartford 4 Gosport Borough 2
04.03.1989 Gosport Borough 1 Dartford 2

Next Meetings

Tuesday 16 August 2016 at Princes Park

Saturday 11 February 2017 at Privett Park

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National League South Season Preview 2016/2017 (A-C)

 Bath City | Bishop’s Stortford | Chelmsford City | Concord Rangers

Bath City

Founded: 1889 / Ground: Twerton Park

Early pace setters to mid table obscurity, that is how last season panned out for the Romans. Bath City disappointingly matched their previous National South finish after such a promising start. Having topped the table with a one hundred percent record after six games, the Somerset club slid down the league prompting a change in management. Two league wins in nineteen attempts saw the end of Lee Howells and in came Gary Owers. The new boss oversaw just one victory in the next ten but made the Romans harder to beat picking up draws on the way. Once settled, Owers led Bath City to five wins in the final seven fixtures. The real struggle throughout the campaign was a lack of goals, only bottom of the table Basingstoke Town scored fewer.

Last SeasonBath_City_FC

National South: 14th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: 2nd Round

League Top Scorer: David Pratt (9 goals)

The Manager – Gary Owers

Now in his second spell in charge at Twerton Park, Owers was appointed in February following Lee Howells’ departure. The former Sunderland, Bristol City and Notts County midfielder last managed Bath City over ten years ago in the Southern Premier League. The 47 year old, went on to manage Forest Green Rovers and Weston-Super-Mare prior assistant manager roles at Aldershot Town, Plymouth Argyle and his hometown club Gateshead.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 27 / Bath City wins: 40 / Draws: 19

Previous Meetings

16.01.2016 Dartford 4 Bath City 1
05.09.2015 Bath City 0 Dartford 0
07.04.1990 Dartford 1 Bath City 0
09.09.1989 Bath City 0 Dartford 0
28.01.1989 Dartford 0 Bath City 1
03.12.1988 Bath City 4 Dartford 2

Next Meetings

Saturday 22 October 2016 at Twerton Park

Saturday 4 March 2017 at Princes Park

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Bishop’s Stortford

Founded: 1874 / Ground: Woodside Park

A steady campaign resulted in Bishop’s Stortford’s highest finish in four years. At the start of the season former manager Rod Stringer believed he could guide them to the playoffs with the right backing. Instead they rarely challenged peaking in eighth place at the start of February. It was during that month the Bishop’s struggled going on a five game losing streak. Although the Hertfordshire club recovered with only two more defeats the damage was done. Stringer was largely thankful to Golden Boot winner Elliott Buchanan who netted 28 times, half of the club’s total goals. The striker, like the former boss will no longer be at Woodside Park having left the club this summer.

Bishops stortfordLast Season

National South: 11th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Semi-final

League Top Scorer: Elliott Buchanan (28 goals)

The Manager – Gordon Boateng

Seen as a gamble by the directors who appointed him, Boateng was recruited by previous manager Rod Stringer a year ago as Head of Player Recruiting and Scouting. His contacts should serve Bishop’s Stortford well as they rebuild following Stringer’s resignation. It’s Boateng’s third spell as part of the management team and he beat seven other candidates to the job. The 35 year old, has never managed in the National South but has experience with Cheshunt and his profile fits the ambitions of the board.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 4 / Bishop’s Stortford wins: 3 / Draws: 2

Previous Meetings

25.03.2016 Dartford 3 Bishop’s Stortford 1
24.10.2015 Bishop’s Stortford 1 Dartford 2
29.01.2011 Bishop’s Stortford 0 Dartford 1
24.08.2010 Dartford 3 Bishop’s Stortford 0
11.04.1981 Bishop’s Stortford 2 Dartford 1
04.04.1981 Dartford 1 Bishop’s Stortford 1

Next Meetings

Saturday 19 November 2016 at Woodside Park

Saturday 22 April 2017 at Princes Park

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Chelmsford City

Founded: 1878 / Ground: Melbourne Stadium

Since promotion to the National South eight years ago, the Clarets were consistent playoff candidates but haven’t been for the last three campaigns. Mark Hawkes was the latest man to attempt to match Chelmsford City’s ambitions and whilst it looked good at the start of the season a turbulent Winter left the Essex club needing to do too much. A comfortable 5-2 win at home to Concord Rangers left the Clarets in fourth by mid-September and come November they were hanging on the playoff fringes. Then came the horror show between Halloween and to the end of February where the club picked up just eight points from fourteen games. The rest of the campaign drifted by but they did record an impressive 6-1 win at home to playoff contenders Gosport Borough.

ChelmsfordCityFCLast Season

National South: 15th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: Quarter-final

League Top Scorer: Billy Bricknell (17 goals)

The Manager – Rod Stringer

Linked with the Chelmsford City hotseat for the last three years, the Clarets finally got their man who they believe will guide them upwards and onwards. Stringer’s reputation has been built on two league titles, first with Aveley’s triumph in the Isthmian League Division One North then with Braintree Town in the National South. Stringer had the chance to manage in the top non league division but decided to controversially walk away. This summer he made the move back to Essex from local rivals Bishop’s Stortford bringing players with him.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 35 / Chelmsford City wins: 50 / Draws: 89

Previous Meetings

02.01.2016 Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 1
26.12.2015 Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 1
07.04.2012 Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 0
27.08.2011 Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 0
03.01.2011 Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 2
30.08.2010 Chelmsford City 2 Dartford 0

Next Meetings

Saturday 13 August 2016 at Melbourne Stadium

Saturday 18 February 2016 at Princes Park

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Concord Rangers

Founded: 1967 / Ground: Thames Road

A well run club who have moved up the divisions from the Essex League in a short space of time. When Concord Rangers won their first two matches last season they unexpectedly topped the National South. Four straight defeats followed and confidence dwindled until the end of October. The following month restored positivity around the club with four wins from four and no goals conceded. The Beachboys began to believe the playoffs were possible but soon another set back occurred with a trio of losses. Although Concord Rangers managed a ten game unbeaten run in the early part of 2016, the Essex Senior Cup winners lost eleven at home which cost them overall.

concord rangersLast Season

National South: 10th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Steve Cawley (20 goals)

The Manager – Adam Flanagan

Former Dartford defender Adam Flanagan impressed in his first season as Concord Rangers manager. He had replaced Danny Cowley who guided the Beachboys up the non league pyramid so had big shoes to fill. The 38 year old previously managed Brentwood Town where he won promotion to the Isthmian Premier League via the playoffs. As a player he captained the Dartford side who clinched the Isthmian Premier League title five years ago, making a total of 145 appearances for the Darts and scoring 14 goals.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 / Concord Rangers wins: 1 / Draws: 0

Previous Meetings

27.02.2016 Dartford 1 Concord Rangers 2
18.08.2015 Concord Rangers 2 Dartford 3
27.01.2009* Concord Rangers 1 Dartford 3

Next Meetings

Saturday 24 September 2016 at Princes Park

Saturday 11 March 2017 at Thames Road

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