Who Will Avoid The Drop In Conference South?

Who is going to win the increasingly close and tense battle to avoid relegation from the Conference South this season?

The top of the Conference South table isn’t where the story lies this season. Instead, the battle to stay in the division is the really interesting thing. But just who will survive the drop into the Isthmian and Southern leagues? Here I am going to look at each club’s run in and try and predict how many points they will get, and therefore predict my bottom three.

Who is involved?

Currently, the bottom of the table looks like this:

16 Eastbourne Borough 34 10 9 15 48 55 -7 39
17 Maidenhead United 36 10 8 18 39 62 -23 38
18 Bromley 36 8 12 16 46 61 -15 36
19 Havant and Waterlooville 35 8 11 16 56 66 -10 35
20 Staines Town 36 9 8 19 43 57 -14 35
21 Hampton & Richmond 33 7 11 15 46 59 -13 32
22 Thurrock 35 4 10 21 29 72 -43 22

It looks as though Thurrock are already as good as down, sorry Thurrock fans! They have only won one match at home all season, and their appalling goal difference mean they are destined to go down, and will probably finish bottom. I have decided to go as far up as Eastbourne in sixteenth place for this article, as the team in fifteenth, Truro City, are a further three points ahead and therefore I think they will survive.

So, which two sides will join Thurrock in going through the trapdoor?

Eastbourne Borough

The Sports have had a busy March, having already played six league matches, and they still have two to play. Their last result was a fantastic 2-1 victory at home to league leaders Woking, giving them a bonus three points that they probably wouldn’t have expected. It was their third win in the last six games, a run which has seen them lose only once and draw the other two, and they are unbeaten in four. The goals of striker Ben Watson could be crucial if the club are to get those few extra points they need to stay up. Watson is in double figures for the season since joining in summer 2011 from Exeter City.

Here are Eastbourne’s remaining fixtures, and the results I think they will get:

Home

Thurrock (w)
Dartford (l)
Welling Utd (l)
Hampton & Richmond (d)
Salisbury City (w)

Away

Eastleigh (l)
Chelmsford City (l)
Basingstoke Town (d)

Total Points: 47

Maidenhead United

The Magpies have struggled for goals all season, having the second worst tally behind Thurrock. They haven’t scored for the last three games, and only netted twice in the six matches they have played so far in March. This lack of goals could be the downfall of the club, and they could find themselves in the bottom three on April 28th. They have the worst goal difference of the six teams involved too, so they need points quickly. They have played the maximum 36 games so far, meaning to a large extent that their fate is not in their own hands. In their final six matches, they face the top two as well as playoff chasing Dover. This is their run in:

Home

Farnborough (d)
Woking (l)
Eastleigh (w)

Away

Dartford (l)
Staines Town (d)
Dover Athletic (l)

Total points: 43

Bromley

Like Maidenhead, Bromley have played the full thirty six matches so far, and find themselves just a point clear of the drop zone. They are in a terrible run of form, drawing four and losing two of their last six matches. Their run in isn’t the hardest on paper, with only Dartford and Sutton jumping off the page as particularly difficult games. However, when you’re in a winless run, it can be hard to get out of. Their run in is as follows:

Home

Weston-super-Mare (d)
Dartford (l)
Thurrock (w)

Away

Sutton United (l)
Truro City (d)
Dorchester town (d)

Total Points: 42

Havant & Waterlooville

Like Bromley, The Hawks have drawn four and lost two of their last six league matches, and the run of form will be very worrying for the fans and management alike. They have drawn their last two, though, and only an injury time equaliser denied them three points against Tonbridge Angels. Therefore, they might gain a bit of confidence from the last two matches and get themselves out of trouble. Of their seven remaining matches, four are at home, so they will fell that they can get the required points to stay up. However, their next two games are away from home, and they could be in the bottom three before they are in front of their own fans again. Here is their run in:

Home

Salisbury City (d)
Dover Athletic (l)
Basingstoke Town (w)
Staines Town (l)

Away

Basingstoke Town (l)
Truro City (l)
Farnborough (l)

Total points: 39

Staines Town

Staines puzzle me. They are in the bottom three currently, despite getting some impressive results on the road. They have beaten Woking, Chelmsford and Dover away without conceding, including a stunning 4-0 success at Dover in their last match. In fact, the only time that Staines have lost away to a top six club is a 2-1 defeat at Sutton United way back in August. So why are they fighting relegation? The answer would have to be their home form. They have only taken thirteen points at Wheatsheaf Park, compared to twenty two on the road. This is something they need to address in their final six matches, three of which are at home. Here are their remaining games:

Home

Truro City (d)
Maidenhead United (d)
Weston-Super-Mare (l)

Away

Boreham Wood (l)
Dorchester Town (l)
Havant & Waterlooville (w)

Total points: 40

Hampton & Richmond Borough

The Beavers currently occupy 21st place in the table, but are only three points from safety. The biggest thing for them is draws. They have drawn eleven matches this season, a lot of them from winning positions. They need to hold out for the win more to escape the bottom three. They are in good form currently, unbeaten in four, taking eight points in the process. They also have more games to play than any other team in the Conference South, having only played 33 games. This is largely due to the weather accounting for postponements, but also the run to the FA Trophy Third Round. Of the nine remaining games, four are at The Beveree Stadium, including three in a row in April. The sheer number of games left might be the defining factor. These are their remaining games:

Home

Sutton United (l)
Salisbury City (w)
Welling United (l)
Basingstoke Town (d)

Away

Dover Athletic (d)
Boreham Wood (w)
Farnborough (l)
Eastbourne Borough (d)
Thurrock (w)

Total Points: 44

That is my prediction, nay guess, as to what will happen in the final games of the season. The table would look like this:

16. Eastbourne Borough 47 points
17. Hampton & Richmond 44
18. Maidenhead United 43
19. Bromley 42
20. Staines Town 40
21. Havant & Waterlooville 39

For the record, I think Thurrock may get another five points, and finish bottom with 27 points. Now, as many of you will know, I support Hampton & Richmond, but I have tried to not let that get in the way! I think that they are in a decent run of form, which they weren’t when some of these games were first due to be played. I think the fact that they have three in hand on most teams around them will make the difference.

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About James Bartaby

Hey, I'm James and I'm relatively new to non-league football, having only taken in my first match in September 2011. Despite it being a 0-4 defeat for Hampton & Richmond Borough, I became a huge fan of the club and NL in general. So much so that they are now the first club that I mention when talking about which team I support! I just got massively disillusioned with top flight football in this country and the attitudes of the lawmakers and top clubs in general, and I wanted to start taking my son to see decent football. I am now the club's Deputy Press Officer, and loving every minute!

Posted on March 25, 2012, in UTL Archive and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. You have made an arithmetic error regarding Maidenhead’s final points tally. One win and two draws would take them to 43 points.

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