Home East London 2021/2022 Vanarama National League Matchday 37 Preview: London & South East

2021/2022 Vanarama National League Matchday 37 Preview: London & South East

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Another matchday in the Vanarama National League brings more vital fixtures for the region’s sides as the season approaches its culmination. Here is what the teams from the London & South East have in store for the weekend.

Grimsby Town v Dagenham & Redbridge 

The Daggers will face a trip to Blundell Park to face direct their Play-Off rivals in a mammoth clash that could define their season.

Following a narrow midweek win away Eastleigh thanks to a goal from Paul McCallum, Daryl McMahon’s side will now will now face one of the biggest games of their season against Grimsby Town.

The East London side have spent a lot of time in and around the top seven without being able to assert themselves in the postseason berths. With just three points now separating themselves and 7th placed Boreham Wood, this would be the perfect opportunity for them to pounce.

Four wins from five have reinvigorated the Daggers’ season, and an exit from the FA Trophy at the hands of York City means that their sole focus can now be on earning a place in the league’s top seven.

Furthermore, in each of these four wins, Dagenham were able to keep a clean sheet whilst scoring ten goals during that time. Additionally, the East Londoners also possess the second best attacking record in the league behind league leaders Stockport County. McMahon and the Daggers fans will hope that these attributes can lead them to victory in this game.

Grimsby meanwhile have seen a resurgence stutter somewhat, as their charge towards the play-offs has been halted by just one win in four. Most recently, the Mariners would concede a last minute winner at home to another direct play-off rival in Solihull Moors, having previously led that game.

As such, the Daggers will be hoping to inflict a similar fate on their opponents this coming weekend.

A win for Dagenham would not only take them above Grimsby, but could potentially land them back in the top seven with nine games to go.

Maidenhead United v Barnet 

18th will battle 17th as Barnet look to end their season on a high note with a trip to York Road to face Maidenhead United.

After an excellent end to 2021, Barnet have struggled for form in the new year. Back-to-back wins against Dover Athletic and Boreham Wood have ensured that any lingering relegation worries were dissipated, but their recent home loss to Woking has reminded Bees fans of their sides weaknesses.

Once again, Barnet struggled to defend set-pieces and crosses, allowing the towering Woking centre half Moussa Diarra to bag his second goal of the season. Defending crosses and set-pieces has been a recurring issue for the North London side, exemplified by their 5-0 home tonking at the hands of Stockport County in which four of the five goals came directly from set-pieces or a cross.

On paper, Maidenhead are very evenly matched with Barnet as they are level on points, scoring four fewer goals but also conceding a singular goal fewer than the Bees.

As such, one could assume that this is going to be a tight affair between two sides who, admittedly have nothing to play for, but will be keen to go as far as they can to amending what has been a poor season on the whole.

Alan Devonshire’s side will arrive buoyed by their midweek victory over an in-form Southend United.

Should Barnet emerge victorious, they could move above Wealdstone into 16th, whereas defeat may see them fall as low as 19th.

Wealdstone v Bromley 

Two London & South East sides will go head to head at Grosvenor Vale as Bromley desperately try and get their play-off push back on track.

Wealdstone were on cloud nine for 44 minutes at Edgeley Park, as the part-timers not only took the lead, but actually went 2-0 up against the league leaders Stockport. A third goal in as many games for Jack Cook was followed up by a first senior goal for 18-year-old Charlton Athletic loanee Aaron Henry.

Meanwhile, Bromley have seen their season fall off the edge of a cliff, going winless since the end of January. This came after a hugely impressive January started 2022 by propelling the Ravens into the mix thanks to four straight wins. These included wins over three play-off rivals in Solihull Moors, Grimsby Town and Notts County.

However, Andy Woodman’s have failed to taste league victory since that win over the Magpies at Hayes Lane on the 29th January. Losses to Southend United, Stockport County, FC Halifax Town and Yeovil Town have significantly set the side back, as well as a 0-0 draw with Wrexham. Whilst those can all be considered tough games, dropping points against the likes of Weymouth and Torquay United may be what the Kent side will come to regret at the end of the season.

The Whites will have a FA Trophy Semi-Final clash against York City following this game, but Woodman will be keen for his side to get back to winning ways in the league and keep up their hopes of making the postseason prior to this outing.

On the other hand, 16th placed Wealdstone will hope that the newly formed scoring partnership of Jack Cook and Rhys Browne can bear more fruit, as well as seeing star man Joshua Umerah return to goal-scoring form.

A win for Bromley could see them move to within two points or the play-off places should results go their way, whilst victory for Wealdstone would further ensure a positive end to their second National League campaign.

Woking v Solihull Moors 

Woking look to continue their revival under caretaker manager Ian Dyer as they welcome Play-Off contenders Solihull Moors  to the Laithwaite Community Stadium.

2022 saw a challenging introduction for the Cardinals, who won just one game in January and February combined, whilst all three of their victories have come against out of form sides sat below them in the National League Standings.

That being said, Woking have kept three clean sheets on the trot in attaining these victories, something the Surrey side have severely struggled with so far this season.

In Solihull Moors however, Woking face an altogether different task. Unbeaten since the 8th January, Moors have solidified themselves as a bonafide play-off candidate with victories away at Chesterfield and most recently Grimsby Town.

There is little at stake for Woking other than pride and the hopes of potentially capping off a disappointing season well by making a run for the top half. Neal Ardley’s side will have plenty to play for on the other hand, with the chance to close the gap on Wrexham and the home semi-final berths occupied by Chesterfield and FC Halifax Town.

Wrexham v Dover Athletic –

Dover’s inevitable relegation was confirmed with a 2-0 defeat to Yeovil Town at Crabble Sports Ground. Whilst this was a fate that was widely accepted for some time, this did not ease the sadness of an eight year stay at Non-League’s peak following promotion from the National League South in 2014.

This included a run to the play-offs in their second season, where they would lose out to Forest Green Rovers. The Whites would continue to challenge for the play-off berths for most of their tenure in the National League, before financial issues came at the wrong time and the effects of Covid crippled the Kent club.

Now, with a return to the National League South set in stone, Andy Hessenthaler is tasked with finishing this season on a high and building a team that can bounce back next season in England’s sixth tier.

However, the task at hand will not get any easier, as they face a trip to the Racecourse Ground to face a Wrexham side who have amassed an almighty assault on the play-offs after a disappointing start to the season.

The Dragons have suffered just one league defeat since January, dropping points on only three occasions in this run. Phil Parkinson’s side have knocked off the likes of Chesterfield, Boreham Wood and FC Halifax Town on this run. Additionally, big money signing Paul Mullin has five goals in as many games since returning from a short injury absence, and as such has helped further invigorate the Welsh side.

As a result, it would be easy, perhaps even wise to write Dover off completely from this fixture. But this is football, and in sport there are no guarantees. Dover have 11 games to achieve half of the tally they have in 33 games, being eight points. Should they be successful, they will avoid finishing the season on negative points. Furthermore, with minus points taken out of the equation, Dover currently have the lowest points tally of the century, and need two more points to reach the tally of 10 that Hyde United amassed in 2013/2013.

Yeovil Town v Southend United 

After the Shrimpers acclaimed New Year resurgence which saw them shoot up the league table, the momentum of the Essex club has been halted by defeats to Dagenham & Redbridge and Maidenhead United.

Both Kevin Maher and Blues fans alike will have hoped that the shambolic performance against the Daggers was just a one off, and this notion would have been perpetuated following a 2-0 home win against Altrincham and when Tom Clifford gave the Shrimpers the lead in the 63rd minute at York Road.

However, tides would rapidly turn as Will De Havilland equalised for Maidenhead, before Ryan Upward overturned the game completely in the favour of the Berkshire side. To make matters worse for Southend, James Dunne received a straight red card on his full return from injury.

As such, a potential play-off charge that would have surely gone down as one of the greatest season comebacks of all time was all but shut down. That being said, any pressure of making the postseason in the most unlikely fashion will have been lifted, and the Southend players can now focus on winning each game as it comes and finishing as high as possible.

They will make the 378 mile round trip to Huish Park to face a Yeovil Town side looking for a third successive win. The fact Yeovil remain in 13th, just a place below Southend having won just once in 2022 prior to victories over Dover Athletic and Bromley will likely highlight what a missed opportunity this season has been for the Somerset side. This is highlighted by the fact Yeovil were in 10th after an impressive close to 2021, and looked set to piece together an assault on the top seven.

However, a run of tough fixtures paired with a catalogue of draws have halted this progress.

Consequently, this clash is now very much a mid-table affair with virtually nothing to play for. However, the two former Football League sides will be desperate to build momentum into what they hope will be a return to the 92 next season.

That concludes the fixtures involving teams from London & South East. Here is the list in full –

Grimsby v Dagenham & Redbridge

Maidenhead United v Barnet

Wealdstone v Bromley

Woking v Solihull Moors

Wrexham v Dover Athletic 

Yeovil Town v Southend United 

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