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National South Season Preview Part IV

Maidstone United

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 9th
F.A Cup: 2nd Round
F.A Trophy: 1st Round
Top Scorer: Ibby Akanbi (9 goals)

A former Football League club, the only in the division started their move through the non-league scene almost 20 years ago. In that time, they made light work in reaching the Isthmian Premier, consolidated themselves then moved to a new stadium. Since then the Stones won three promotions in four seasons to reach the National League. After three years they were relegated, and last term was their first back in the National South. Maidstone United were hoping for a swift return, but instead had to settle for ninth after losing five of their last six matches.

Manager: Hakan Hayrettin

Appointed as manager in January 2019, Hakan Hayrettin is a well-respected coach and Maidstone United represents his first managerial role outside of Essex. Starting out in 2003 with Waltham Forest, Hayrettin’s best moment came almost a decade later when he won the Isthmian Division One North with Grays Athletic, as they notched up an impressive 102 points. After working closely with John Still at Luton Town, he returned to Essex as manager of Braintree Town until they were relegated. Whilst at Maidstone United, Still called upon Hayrettin once more where he has been boss ever since.

Summer

Just over seven and half months ago, Scott Rendell hit the headlines when his goal knocked out Premier League opposition Norwich City in the F.A Cup. Rendell was playing for non-leaguers Luton Town at the time and since then he has spent time at Woking, Aldershot Town and last season Eastleigh. The striker has also gained experience with Cambridge United, Peterborough United and Wycombe Wanderers, now he will be sharing his footballing knowledge at the Gallagher Stadium. The Stones also signed Kreshnic Krasniqi from National South champions Wealdstone and defender Joe Ellul from Maidenhead United. George Porter, Christie Pattison, Raphe Brown and Charlie Seaman have all signed for the Stones as well.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 44 / Maidstone United wins: 45 / Draws: 19

Oxford City

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 13th
F.A Cup: 1st Round
F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round
Top Scorer: Zac McEachran (9 goals)

Spending the majority of last season with interim managers, Oxford City still managed to maintain their consistency of mid-table finishes. The Hoops enjoyed some more F.A Cup success reaching the first round proper for the third year in a row. Shortly afterwards Mark Jones departed and that’s when Justin Merritt and Andy Ballard took over. The interim duo had an immediate impact winning five of their first six which included some high scoring entertaining games. Oxford City now have a new manager at the helm with early nineties top flight playing experience.

Manager: David Oldfield

Waiting to take charge of his first competitive game at Oxford City, David Oldfield made his name in football back in the eighties. The former midfielder impressed at Luton Town before joining Manchester City where he won promotion to the top flight. He played the first half of the nineties at Leicester City and was part of the team making it to the Premier League. After returning to Luton Town he went on to represent Stoke City, Peterborough United and Oxford United before entering the world of non-league as a player and briefly as a manager with Brackley Town.

Summer

At the age of 21, Harvey Bradbury has spent most of his fledgling career out on loan with the likes of Havant and Waterlooville, St Albans City, Hungerford Town and Woking. Son of former Portsmouth striker Lee, Harvey joins Oxford City from Millwall. The Hoops have strengthen their back line with the signings of Dan Matsuzaka from Braintree Town and Louis Hall (Bedford Town), the pair could be playing in front of former Sutton United goalkeeper Ben Dudzinski. Winger, James Roberts joins from Spennymoor Town and Lewis Coyle signs from Thatcham Town. Aaron Drewe and Jacob Bancroft are the latest to join the Hoops.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 7 / Oxford City wins: 3 / Draws: 3

Slough Town

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 5th
F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round
Top Scorer: Ben Harris (9 goals)

Three games into their second season in the National South and it looked like it could be a long campaign for Slough Town. In the end it was, but not because they had no points to show in the opening matches, but because they made the playoffs losing in the eliminator round against Dartford. The Rebels took a while to get going and when they put a run of one defeat in 19 their confidence grew. The Berkshire club can be delighted with what they have achieved since joining the National South.

Managers: Jon Underwood and Neil Baker

It’s not often joint managers work, but at Slough Town it definitely does. Jon Underwood and Neil Baker have been leading the Rebels since May 2013, before that they were both at Goldalming Town. The duo seem to have the knack of making their teams into playoff contenders, at Goldalming Town they reached the Isthmian Division One South playoffs, whilst at Slough Town they have been promoted twice through that route to the Southern Premier then the National South. Last season, they guided the Berkshire club to the National South playoffs but fell short this time.

Summer

There hasn’t been much action in the transfer market at Slough Town. Midfielder, Jack McKnight has been signed from Eastleigh and Louis Lomas has come in on loan from Championship club Norwich City. McKnight impressed the management team a few season’s ago when he scored against hem for Basingstoke Town. Lomas has been a regular in Norwich City’s under 23 squad and spent time on loan at Tampa Bay Rowdies last term in the USL Championship. Olly McCoy, Ada Okorogheye and Michael Edegbe all joined before Slough Town’s F.A Cup win over Dartford.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 4 / Slough Town wins: 3 / Draws: 2

St Albans City

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 20th
F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round
Top Scorer: Joe Iaciofano (17 goals)

Embroiled in a relegation battle last time out, the Saints will have to live life without golden boot winner Joe Iaciofano, who netted just under half of St Albans City’s goals. The Hertfordshire club were on course to record their lowest points tally since dropping out of the division nine years ago. Even then they didn’t spend long outside the National South and have been in this league for 12 of the previous 16 seasons. The club have rebranded with a new crest and have signed a sponsorship deal with rock band Enter Shikari.

Manager: Ian Allinson

A former Arsenal winger who turned to management back in 1989 with Baldock Town, Ian Allinson moved around before settling at Boreham Wood. It was in Hertfordshire where he picked up his first honours as a manager taking an unfancied side to the National League via two playoff promotions. Allinson moved the Wood from the Isthmian Premier League to the top flight of non-league on very low crowds, but due to work commitments he left in October 2015. Four months later Allinson rocked up at St Albans City where he has had mixed results so far.

Summer

Losing Joe Iaciofano in the summer meant finding a goalscorer was a priority for Ian Allinson. The St Albans City boss is hoping Shaun Jeffers will be that man after signing the striker from Chelmsford City. Also arriving from the Clarets is forward Joseph Chidyausiku and to add to the attacking line, Mitchell Weiss comes in from Kings Langley and Chid Onokwai from Haringey Borough, where he scored ten goals in as many games before injury cut his season short. Following Onokwai from the North London club is midfielder Romeo Akinola. Also, in the middle of the park, the Saints have brought in Michael Oluwadara Dada from Barking and Kyran Witshire from Oxford City. Luke Warner-Eley had a very short spell with Dartford playing six times before leaving the club, he joins the Saints from Royston Town. Defenders, Joy Mukena (Bracknell Town), Devante Stanley (Biggleswade Town) and goalkeeper Michael Johnson (Dagenham and Redbridge) will also be at Clarence Park this season.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 7 / St Albans City wins: 5 / Draws: 5

Tonbridge Angels

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 15th
F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: 1st Round
Top Scorer: Joe Turner (11 goals)

It took some time to settle in their first campaign back in the National South after a five-year absence. The Angels won promotion the hard way winning two playoff finals and that determination would stand them in good stead. Tonbridge Angels lost two thirds of their opening 15 games, then the second half of the season that was played out, they tasted defeat just three more times in 16 outings. In the end they were still in a relegation battle with many of the top sides to play, but they showed they can beat the teams around them.

Manager: Steve McKimm

You will find on Steve McKimm’s honours list two playoff wins in the same season. Tonbridge Angels’ route back to the National South was far from easy, after an Isthmian Premier League playoff win over Merstham, they beat Metropolitan Police in a ‘super-playoff’. He had come close before in 2016 with the Angels so winning two in a season tasted all the sweeter. As a player, McKimm also coached at Sutton United and before then had spells with Margate, Gravesend and Northfleet where he won the Isthmian Premier League title, Kingstonian, Farnborough, Hayes and Yeading United and Dulwich Hamlet.

Summer

Nine months after leaving the Angels, D’Sean Theobald is back at the Longmead Stadium. The midfielder’s performances earned him a move to Poland’s top flight with Korona Kielce, but his stay didn’t go to plan so Steve McKimm links up with Theobald again. Another two players return to the Angels, striker Alex Akrofi scored 15 times for Aveley last season and defender Arthur Lee was at AFC Hornchurch last term and was part of the Kent side’s promotion winning team. At full back, Kristian Campbell arrives from Eastbourne Borough and Javaun Splatt gets a chance following a two year scholarship at Derby County’s Academy, Splatt has also had loan spells with Mickleover Sports and Carshalton Athletic. 

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 68 / Tonbridge Angels wins: 38 / Draws: 24

Welling United

2019/2020 Performance:
League Position: 12th
F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy: 1st Round
Top Scorer: Anthony Cook (8 goals)

In one summer Welling United suffered two big losses, the playoff final defeat to Woking just over a year ago and former manager Steve King. Owner, Mark Goldberg decided changes were needed to help the finances of the club and so appointed himself as manager, tapping into the resources already at the club. Goldberg lasted until January and as defeats become more frequent decided it was time to hand the reins over. Welling United went on to pick up form to comfortably finish mid-table, making what they achieved under King stand out more.

Manager: Bradley Quinton

A promotion winner with Braintree Town just over two years ago, Bradley Quinton led the Iron to the National League via the playoffs. Whilst he had a shot at the National League his tenure lasted until October 2018 when he resigned. In January 2019, he was appointed to stop Welling United’s slide as the Wings were in the bottom three of the National South and soon after fortunes improved. Quinton previously played a part in Enfield Town reaching a playoff spot in 2017 and at the Middesex club he worked under current Braintree Town boss George Borg.

Summer

Two former Dartford players have joined the Wings this summer, although both players made very limited appearances for the Darts. Rowan Liburd played just three games during his loan spell under Steve King, the striker signs from Hereford. Marcel Barrington was also at Dartford last season and he is now back alongside Bradley Quinton where the pair worked together at Braintree Town. Lionel Ainsworth brings plenty of experience to the squad after a career at various Football League clubs, the winger enjoyed a spell north of the border at Motherwell and joins from Dulwich Hamlet. Former Yeovil Town winger, Tyrique Clark anddefender Quba Gordon (Maldon and Tiptree) were added to the squad as well as goalkeeper Mohammed Oulad Laarbi and midfielder Emmanuel Maja. Former Staines Town man William Efambe will join Lanre Azeez (Hastings United), German Petrov and Stefan Ilic (Lewes) as new members at Park View Road.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 22 / Welling United wins: 10 / Draws: 9

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