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National League South Season Preview 2018/2019 – Part One

 Bath City | Billericay Town | Chelmsford CityChippenham Town | Concord Rangers

Bath City

Founded: 1889 / Ground: Twerton Park

Over the last four years you cannot fault Bath City for consistency. The Romans left the National League via the relegation trapdoor six years ago, since then they have gone through off field transition. The Somerset club turned to filmmaker and fan Ken Loach, who campaigned for a community owned club, the appeal was successful and last summer the transition was completed. During that period, Bath City finished successive seasons in fourteenth followed by back to back ninth place finishes. Hoping to benefit from the playoff places being extended to seventh, the Romans had to settle for the top ten last term, even with the disruption of manager Gary Owers leaving in September for Torquay United.

Last Season

National South: 9th

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: Semi-Final

League Top Scorer: Tom Smith (10 goals)

Average Attendance: 702 (6th in National South)

The Manager – Jerry Gill

Appointed manager of Bath City in October 2017, Gill took over from Gary Owers who had left for Torquay United. The appointment marked the return of the former defender who played over 200 times for the Romans in the nineties. His playing career included a League Cup Final and promotion to the Premier League with Birmingham City and a League Two playoff triumph with Cheltenham Town. Gill started managing eight years ago with Weymouth, but he resigned after 44 days with the club struggling financially. Since then he has held coaching roles at Bristol Rovers, Birmingham City and Kidderminster Harriers as well as with Norwich City’s and Wolverhampton Wanderers’ academies.

The Summer

With Bath City’s golden boot winner Jack Compton signing for Chippenham Town, Gill swooped to sign John Mills from Hereford FC. The striker scored 140 goals in three seasons with the Bulls and before that he netted 57 in one campaign with Didcot Town. Ross Stearn makes the move from Sutton United a permanent one, he will be back at Twerton Park for a third time after two loan spells in 2013 and 2015. Also, Adam Mann joins the Romans after scoring 24 goals with Evesham United in the Southern League Division One West last term. Defender Robbie Cundy arrives from National South rivals Gloucester City, Ryan Brunt from Exeter City and goalkeeper Ryan Clarke from Torquay United. Having impressed during pre-season The Romans signed midfielder Joe Raynes from Frome Town. Bath City also welcome the return of James Morton on loan from Bristol City until the end of January 2019. Miles Welch-Hayes was named in the National South’s Team of the Year and returns to the Football League with promoted Macclesfield Town. Ryan Case, Nat Jarvis and George Rigg have also left the club with the latter two moving to rivals Chippenham Town.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 31 / Bath City wins: 40 / Draws: 19

Previous Meetings

21.04.2018 Dartford 2 Bath City 0
24.10.2017 Bath City 1 Dartford 2
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

Next Meetings

Saturday 4 August 2018 at Twerton Park

Saturday 9 February 2019 at Princes Park

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Billericay Town

Founded: 1880 / Ground: New Lodge

An ambitious club under owner and former manager Glenn Tamplin, Billericay Town delivered under the pressure of high expectations. The Essex club have attracted old Premier League stars such as Jamie O’Hara and Paul Konchesky and signed players who should be playing higher up the pyramid. With financial allure, the Blues built a squad who should have won the Isthmian Premier League and they did, as well as the League Cup. Billericay Town also reached the F.A Cup first round for only the fourth time in their history and were F.A Trophy quarter-finalists last season. Ricay’s last and only foray in the National South ended in relegation five years ago, expectations are higher this time.

Last Season

Isthmian Premier: 1st

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: Quarter-Final

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Jake Robinson (34 goals)

Average Attendance: 1057 (2nd in Isthmian Premier)

The Manager – Harry Wheeler

At 23-years-old, Harry Wheeler beat a record set by Andre Villas Boas when he became the youngest person to gain a UEFA A-License. Joining from Welling United in April 2017 he led the Blues to success last term winning the Isthmian Premier League and League Cup. Wheeler played for Stevenage, Hampton & Richmond Borough and St Albans City before moving towards a coaching career. He ran the reserve team at Potters Bar Town, managed St Albans City at 26-years-old and was head of Professional Development at Dagenham and Redbridge for two years. This summer he added owner Glenn Tamplin as his assistant, who was also Wheeler’s predecessor.

The Summer

High ambitions and a step up in non-league football means plenty of change for Billericay Town. Simon Walton will bring experience to the team having played for Sutton United last season, Walton has played in the Football League with Leeds United, Cardiff City, Ipswich Town, Hull City and Plymouth Argyle. Promoted with Dulwich Hamlet in May, Ricky Hayles switches allegiances to Ricay, apart from a short stint with Welling united the defender has spent most of his career in Essex with the likes of Tilbury, Thurrock and East Thurrock United. Wheeler has also persuaded former Truro City captain Ben Gerring to join his side as well as England C international Jake Howells from Dagenham and Redbridge, former Bromley striker Moses Emmanuel, left back Callum Kennedy from AFC Wimbledon and winger Connor Hunte from Greenwich Borough via Kingstonian. Between the sticks, 18-year-old Josh Strizovic comes in as back up after spells with Waltham Forest and Burnham Ramblers. Scott Doe made over 300 appearances for rivals Dagenham and Redbridge, the 29-year-old joins after spells with Whitehawk and Boreham Wood. Adam Coombes showed his potential at Welling United two years ago scoring 31 goals which included four hat-tricks. The striker moved to Sutton United, but injury hampered his progress, so he returned to the Wings. The 27-year-old will now be playing in Essex again with Billericay Town. There have also been notable departures including Rob Swaine going back to local rivals Chelmsford City, Billy Bricknell who scored 105 goals for the club in 184 appearances, Rob Evans and Josh Urquhart both played over 50 times last season. Goalkeeper Jack Giddens leaves for East Thurrock United, Leo Chambers and Louie Theophanous both join Kingstonian and Kevin Foley was released. Olly Sprague, Liam Hughes, Byron Lawrence, Luke Rooney, Sanchez Watt, Nick Wheeler and Charlie Cole are also no longer part of Wheeler’s plans.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 / Billericay Town wins: 2 / Draws: 0

Previous Meetings

24.04.2010 Dartford 1 Billericay Town 4
07.11.2009 Billericay Town 1 Dartford 0
02.05.1981 Dartford 2 Billericay Town 0
13.12.1980 Billericay Town 0 Dartford 1

Next Meetings

Saturday 15 September 2018 at New Lodge

Monday 22 April 2019 at Princes Park

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Chelmsford City

Founded: 1878 / Ground: Melbourne Stadium

Last season, the Clarets celebrated a tenth consecutive campaign in the National South. The Essex side will think that’s not worth celebrating simply because they are desperate for a crack at the National League. With an exception of a three-year mediocre spell, Chelmsford City have made regular appearances in the playoffs reaching the end of season finale six times in the last decade, losing the final two years ago. Joint favourites to win the National South last term, The Clarets made a solid start and were amongst the front runners, but they dropped off the pace only to frustratingly lose another playoff semi-final.  The Essex club have spent the summer talking of a takeover and hope this to be resolved fully soon.

Last Season

National South: 3rd

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Runner Up

League Top Scorer: Philip Roberts (18 goals)

Average Attendance: 897 (2nd in National South)

The Manager – Rod Stringer

When Rod Stringer took over two years ago Chelmsford City had spent the previous three seasons outside of the playoffs. Joining from rivals Bishop’s Stortford he has turned the Clarets into title contenders finishing fourth and third since his arrival. He has a proven track record of getting teams challenging for promotion winning the Isthmian Division One North with Aveley, then taking them to the Isthmian Premier League playoffs. Stringer moved to Braintree Town and in his only season at Cressing Road he won the Isthmian Premier League. A spell at Bishop’s Stortford wasn’t as successful as previous roles, but Stringer has brought optimism and consistency back to the Essex club.

The Summer

Rod Stringer has looked across the county border this summer bringing in a number of players from Kent sides. Joe Anderson and Tom Wraight join from Maidstone United, Anderson spent four years at Bromley before playing for the Stones whilst Wraight only managed 26 appearances last season off the back of a decent record at East Thurrock United where he scored 43 times across two seasons. Another former Maidstone United man, Alex Akrofi scored 34 goals in 68 appearances for Tonbridge Angels and is now a Claret. Joining from Gillingham is striker Rhys Murphy, who impressed on trial in pre-season, he has also played in the Netherlands for Telstar in 2012 as well as Dagenham and Redbridge, Oldham Athletic and Forest Green Rovers. Amos Nasha moves from local rivals Concord Rangers, experience goalkeeper Ross Worner comes in from Sutton United and 30-year-old defender Rob Swaine returns to the club for a second spell. Familiar with Stringer at Braintree Town, Jai Reason teams back up with the Chelmsford City boss after spells at Eastleigh and Boreham Wood. Stringer also managed to convince prolific striker Scott Fenwick to stay and move down from the North East. The Clarets have picked up Jordan Chiedozie who netted 29 times in 39 appearances for Margate last term. The striker had a spell with Dartford on loan in 2015 and has featured for Concord Rangers, Poole Town and Cambridge United in the past. Kudus Oyenuga leaves Melbourne Park for Princes Park for a new chapter with Dartford, Michael West moves south to Eastbourne Borough and goalkeeper Sam Beasant is now at Concord Rangers. The experienced Chris Dickson has left to continue his career at Hampton and Richmond Borough.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 36 / Chelmsford City wins: 55 / Draws: 91

Previous Meetings

10.02.2018 Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 2
21.10.2017 Chelmsford City 1 Dartford 0
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

Next Meetings

Tuesday 7 August 2018 at Princes Park

Saturday 19 January 2019 at Melbourne Stadium

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Chippenham Town

Founded: 1873 / Ground: Hardenhuish Park

Competing at their highest level in the football pyramid didn’t faze Chippenham Town last season. Having gained confidence by winning the Southern Premier League with a record number of points, the Bluebirds settled in the National South with a mid-table finish. To add a touch of gloss to their debut campaign the Wiltshire club also won the Wiltshire Premier Shield. Chippenham Town made the most of their home form losing just four times at Hardenhuish Park, comparative to teams in the playoffs. However, they did lose the most away games in the league, the same amount as relegated Whitehawk. Overall a solid start for the Bluebirds’ life in the National South.

Last Season

National South: 13th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Rhys Healey (6 goals)

Average Attendance: 600 (8th in National South)

The Manager – Mark Collier

Chippenham Town had hit a low point in 2013 when they lost 9-0 to Stourbridge. Mark Collier was on holiday in Egypt at the time and when he was asked to become manager he obliged. Year on year Collier has improved the Bluebirds league position and just over a year ago he won the Southern Premier League with his side recording 103 points. Last season was his first in the National South and the Wiltshire club finished in a respectable thirteenth. Prior his appointment at Chippenham Town, Collier famously led Swindon Supermarine to the F.A Cup second round, where they lost 1-0 to Colchester United.

The Summer

When Chippenham Town take on rivals Bath City on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day three new signings will be up against their former club. Jack Compton scored 12 times for the Romans last term, George Rigg made 25 appearances and Nat Jarvis have all joined from Bath City. The Bluebirds add experienced 31-year-old Yan Klukowski from Torquay United, the midfielder also played for Forest green Rovers, Newport County and York City. Goalkeeper, Will Puddy comes in from Hereford FC to take Jared Thompson’s place, who returned to parent club Chelsea. Whilst left back Kieran Parselle makes his move from Gloucester City.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / Chippenham Town wins: 0 / Draws: 1

Previous Meetings

20.01.2018 Chippenham Town 2 Dartford 2
09.09.2017 Dartford 3 Chippenham Town 0

Next Meetings

Saturday 13 October 2018 at Hardenhuish Park

Saturday 13 April 2019 at Princes Park

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Concord Rangers

Founded: 1967 / Ground: Thames Road

The Beachboys retained their status in the National South in their penultimate game of the season. Concord Rangers won a relegation six pointer against Hungerford Town to stay up. Even with safety confirmed, the Essex club still had a massive say in where the title would end up. On the final day they were two down against Havant and Waterlooville then fought back to level. In the final minute they conceded the goal that sent the title to Hampshire. The Essex club have now completed five seasons in the National South, the new management team will be hoping the sixth campaign will be less of a battle at the wrong end of the table.

Last Season

National South: 17th

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Quarter-Final

League Top Scorer: Steve Cawley (14 goals)

Average Attendance: 263 (22nd in National South)

The Manager – Sammy Moore

New to the management game, 30-year-old Sammy Moore has had one year’s experience as a manager which was at Leatherhead. He was part of Ipswich Town’s F.A Youth Cup winning side in 2005 and went on to play for Brentford and Stevenage Borough. The midfielder won the Isthmian Premier League with Dover Athletic nine years ago, then made it into the Football League with AFC Wimbledon through the playoffs two years later. Moore had a spell with Leyton Orient before returning on loan to Dover Athletic. A year ago, he was appointed Player Manager at Leatherhead and impressed enough to replace Adam Flanagan at Concord Rangers this summer.

The Summer

New manager Sammy Moore set his stall out early in the transfer window and made wholesale changes. After ** years at Dartford, Ryan Hayes will be showing his skills with Concord Rangers next term, the winger played 580 times for the Darts and scored 108 goals. Another former Dart, Tyrone Sterling was a F.A Trophy finalist last season with Bromley he will be reunited with Hayes. The former Leatherhead boss, Moore raided his old club by bringing over Frazer Shaw, the experienced Sean Clohessy and midfielder Sam Blackman. The exciting signing of Billy Knott, ex Bradford City, Sunderland, AFC Wimbledon and Gillingham plus a host of other Football League clubs has provided quiet optimism amongst the Beachboys. Lee Minshull will link up again with Moore and Jack Midson, Jack Parkinson joins from Welling United as a player coach, Kojo Awotwi signs from VCD Athletic and Nana Boakye-Yiadom from Dulwich Hamlet. Concord Rangers will also welcome Danny Green on the wing and 30-year-old goalkeeper Sam Beasant from Chelmsford City. On the way out, last season’s top scorer Steve Cawley moves to Hemel Hempstead Town, Ben Greenhalgh joins Dartford, Khale Da Costa switches to St Albans City and Steve King leaves after ten years. Billy Roast and Lewis Knight were also released.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 4 / Concord Rangers wins: 1 / Draws: 2

Previous Meetings

06.01.2018 Concord Rangers 1 Dartford 1
15.08.2017 Dartford 2 Concord Rangers 0
11.03.2017 Concord Rangers 1 Dartford 1
24.09.2016 Dartford 2 Concord Rangers 1
27.02.2016 Dartford 1 Concord Rangers 2
18.08.2015 Concord Rangers 2 Dartford 3

Next Meetings

Tuesday 14 August 2018 at Thames Road

Saturday 26 January 2019 at Princes Park

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