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National League South Season Preview 2017/18 – Part I

 Bath City | Bognor Regis Town | Braintree Town | Chelmsford City

Bath City

Founded: 1889 / Ground: Twerton Park

The Romans achieved their highest finish in three years last term to finish in the top ten. Decent form from mid-November to mid-February helped the cause as Bath City tasted league defeat just once in that period. This season will mark the Romans sixth consecutive campaign in the National South as they push for a playoff place and a hopeful return to the National League, which they exited five years ago.

Last Season

National South: 9th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

League Top Scorer: Andy Watkins (14 goals)

Average Attendance: 612 (8th in league / 59th in non-league)

The Manager – Gary Owers

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. Owers enjoyed his first full campaign last season and this time is aiming for the top five. The Romans boss committed to the club this summer for the next two years and hopes the community buy out off the field will reap its rewards.

The Summer

Shaun McClousky returns to his parent club Bristol City, which allows Jamie Lucas from Bristol Rovers and Nat Jarvis from Hungerford Town to try and replace his goals. Owers has opted for experience at the back signing Grenadian international Anthony Straker from Aldershot Town and Darren Jones from Newport County, adding a little youthfulness in the defence will be Miles Welch-Hayes from Oxford United. Top scorer Andy Watkins was retained after picking up last season’s Player of the Year for the Romans. Turning his loan spell last season to a permanent deal, Marvin Morgan signs from Havant and Waterlooville. Triallists, Matt Cafer and Ryan Case impressed enough in pre-season to earn deals.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 29 / Bath City wins: 40 / Draws: 19

Previous Meetings

04.03.2017 Dartford 2 Bath City 0
22.10.2016 Bath City 0 Dartford 1
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

Next Meetings

Saturday 14 October 2017 at Twerton Park

Saturday 21 April 2018 at Princes Park

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Bognor Regis Town

Founded: 1883 / Ground: Nyewood Lane

Isthmian Premier League runners up two years in a row, the Rocks return to the National South after an eight year absence. In that time the sank to the Isthmian Division One South where again they finished second in consecutive seasons, going up in the playoffs. The Sussex club managed to overcome a strong Dulwich Hamlet side in April’s playoff final and deservedly earned promotion.

Last Season

Isthmian Premier: 2nd

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Qualifying Round

County Cup: Semi Final

League Top Scorer: James Fraser (22 goals)

Average Attendance: 550 (5th in league / 64th in non-league)

The Manager – Vacant

The search for a new boss took some time only for the hard work to be undone. Sami El-Abd agreed to combine the manager’s post with a full time coaching role at Brighton and Hove Albion, only for the defender to step down. General Manager, Jack Pearce praised El-Abd’s honesty and believes any disruptions won’t be a problem for the Rocks.

The Summer

Bognor Regis Town suffered a double blow, after losing manager Jamie Howell, top scorer James Fraser departed Nyewood Lane for Worthing. Corey Heath, once a youth team player with the Rocks will now be part of the senior squad. Goalkeeper, Dan Lincoln and midfield trio Joe Lea, Pat Suraci and Tommy Scutt have all signed on but attracting new players has proved challenging without a manager for most of the summer.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 3 / Bognor Regis Town wins: 1 / Draws: 4

Previous Meetings

24.04.2010 Bognor Regis Town 0 Dartford 2
07.11.2009 Dartford 3 Bognor Regis Town 3
02.05.1981 Dartford 1 Bognor Regis Town 1
13.12.1980 Bognor Regis Town 2 Dartford 2
01.05.1980 Bognor Regis Town 2 Dartford 0
10.11.1979 Dartford 2 Bognor Regis Town 0

Next Meetings

Saturday 7 October 2017 at Princes Park

Saturday 28 April 2018 at Nyewood Lane

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Braintree Town

Founded: 1898 / Ground: Cressing Road

The Irons six year stay amongst the elite of non league ended in relegation last season. In that time the Essex club kept defying the odds starting with mid-table finishes and in 2014 were three points from a playoff spot. A couple of years later, Braintree Town achieved their best ever campaign finishing third, losing the playoff semi final against Grimsby Town. Perhaps victims of their own success, the Iron never recovered and were relegated last term on the final day. At least they reached the F.A cup second round for the first time.

Last Season

National League: 22nd

F.A Cup: 2nd Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

League Top Scorer: Michael Cheek (17 goals)

Average Attendance: 725 (22nd in league / 44th in non-league)

The Manager – Brad Quinton

The club’s record appearance maker after twelve successful seasons with the Iron, Brad Quinton re-joins the Essex club to take charge. Winner of the Isthmian Premier and National South as a player with Braintree Town, he has had a lot of rebuilding to do and his new look squad will be hoping to consolidate in the National South. Quinton has set his sights on the top half of the table by the festive period and then see where he can take them from there. Being a crowd favourite on the pitch may well help him in the dug out.

The Summer

The Irons have signed a teams worth of new players alone including former Dartford striker George Sykes from Canvey Island. Quinton also raided resources at Enfield Town, his former club to work with players he knows and trusts. Nathan McDonald, Jonathan Muleba, Scott Schulton, Samir Bihmoutine, Ricky Gabriel, Nigel Neita and Connor Bolton all join from the Middlesex club. Xavier Vidal has been brought in from Mertsham, Roman Michael-Percil from Metropolitan Police, George Craddock from East Thurrock United and Marc Okoye from Dulwich Hamlet.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 / Braintree Town wins: 6 / Draws: 2

Previous Meetings

01.01.2015 Braintree Town 3 Dartford 0
26.12.2014 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 2
18.04.2014 Braintree Town 1 Dartford 0
24.08.2013 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 2
11.04.2013 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 0
25.09.2012 Braintree Town 0 Dartford 2

Next Meetings

Tuesday 8 August 2017 at Cressing Road

Saturday 23 December 2018 at Princes Park

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Chelmsford City

Founded: 1878 / Ground: Melbourne Stadium

A solid reliable outfit last season, the Clarets failed at the final hurdle in the playoffs, this time against ten men Ebbsfleet United. Chelmsford City will be aiming for promotion after their fourth place finish last term was a vast improvement on the three campaigns before. Like local rivals Braintree Town, the Clarets have been busy in the summer transfer window and have overhauled their squad in an attempt to mount a challenge.

Last Season

National South: 4th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Round

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Shaun Jeffers (21 goals)

Average Attendance: 912 (4th in league / 38th in non-league)

The Manager – Rod Stringer

The Chelmsford City boss ensured the club finished in their best league position since 2011. 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. He will come up against his former club Braintree Town this season after controversially walking away. Last summer he made the move back to Essex from Bishop’s Stortford and has the Clarets believing again.

The Summer

Capitalising on players leaving rivals Braintree Town, the former Irons boss Rod Stringer grabbed the opportunity by signing former Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur forward Lee Barnard. Ex AFC Wimbledon goalkeeper Sam Beasant joins from the Clarets rivals as does Harry Lee. Chelmsford City are amongst the busiest teams in the transfer window capturing the likes of Michael West and Elliott Omozusi from Whitehawk, Craig Braham-Barrett from Welling United and former Dartford loanee Jim Stevenson from Dover Athletic. Former Peterborough United, Millwall and Leyton Orient striker, Shaun Batt was signed from Barnet with the help of the Clarets ’12th man’ fund. Scott Davies (Oxford City), Paul Rodgers (Bishop’s Stortford), Kudus Oyenuga (Greenock Morton), Matt Johnson (Billericay Town) and Aaron Greene (Bishop’s Stortford) have also signed for the Clarets. Former Darts, Max Cornhill and Josh Hill have left the club.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 36 / Chelmsford City wins: 53 / Draws: 91

Previous Meetings

07.05.2017 Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 2
03.05.2017 Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 0
18.02.2017 Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1
14.01.2017 Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1
17.09.2016 Chelmsford City 2 Dartford 3
13.08.2016 Concord Rangers 1 Dartford 1

Next Meetings

Saturday 21 October 2017 at Melbourne Stadium

Saturday 10 February 2018 at Princes Park

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