National North: How they fared

A look back at how our opposition for the new campaign fared last time around…

WITH the new season fast approaching, we’re taking a closer look at our opposition for the campaign ahead. 

Shane Wilkinson takes a whistle-stop look at how all of the other sides who’ll make up the 24-25 National League North season fared last time around:

Alfreton Town – Billy Heath’s side suffered a second consecutive play off quarter final loss after finishing 5th, after eventual winners Boston United prevailed on penalties after a goalless draw.

Brackley Town – Under the stewardship of Gavin Cowan, The Saints once again made the play off final. A second consecutive home play off final brought renewed hope that their promotion hoodoo would be put to bed, but a 1-2 loss to Boston consigned the club to another Step 2 season.

Buxton – A mid table finish saw The Bucks consolidate their National League North status in their second season at the level. They emerge from the season with an unwanted record though; their 0-6 home defeat against Warrington Town in January was the biggest away win seen in the league.

Chester – A side with play off aspirations, Calum McIntyre’s side ultimately fell short by 6 points. Captain George Glendon made his return from an ACL injury that kept him out of the 22/23 season in some style, registering 22 goal involvements.

Chorley – Another of the league’s perennial play off contenders, Chorley registered a fourth placed finish but saw their hopes of a return to non-league’s top table dashed in the semi final, losing by a single goal to Brackley. Andy Preece’s men did register the biggest win of the campaign, demolishing Darlington 8-0 at Victory Park in November.

Curzon Ashton – The Nash were something of a surprise package as Craig Mahon’s men registered their highest ever league finish, 7th, which resulted in their maiden foray into the play offs. Their play off journey ended almost as quickly as it started; defeat to Chorley in the quarter finals ending their dreams.

Darlington – It was a turbulent campaign for Darlington, who flirted with relegation throughout the season. Alun Armstrong was sacked in September after a horrific start, with Josh Gowling replacing him. The former Harriers defender only lasted until Boxing Day though. Steve Watson stepped into the breach on New Year’s Eve and pulled them clear of danger, winning April’s Manager of the Month award in the process.

Farsley Celtic – Needing to win on the final day of the season, Farsley defeated Buxton 2-0 which, coupled with a heavy defeat for Blyth Spartans, secured their National League North status.

Hereford – Paul Caddis took the manager’s role at The Bulls during the summer, taking over a club with more questions than answers. The former Birmingham midfielder made quite an impression though, assembling a side that flirted with the play offs before finishing 11th; six points short.

King’s Lynn Town – After a play off campaign in 22/23, hopes were high that The Linnets would be fighting at the right end of the table again. Their 23/24 campaign was anything but. Floundering in the relegation zone, Mark Hughes left the club in September to be replaced by Curzon Ashton’s Adam Lakeland. The task was tough, but Lakeland achieved his objective by five points, ensuring National League North football would return to The Walks in 24/25.

Leamington – Relegated in 22/23, Leamington returned to the Southern League Central for 23/24. Remaining under the guidance of the wily Paul Holleran, they retained their penchant for defensive stability en route to a third placed finish. 1-0 wins in the play offs against Redditch United and

AFC Telford United saw The Brakes make an immediate return to step 2.
Marine – Former Chester manager Neil Young led Marine to play off success after a third placed finish in the Northern Premier League. The new season will be the Crosby side’s first foray at this level of football and is just reward for victories over Warrington Rylands and the well-backed Macclesfield in the post-season.

Needham Market – The Marketmen, led by Kevin Horlock, would not have been many people’s bets for Southern League Central success having finished 17th of 22 in 22/23. Proving difficult to break down, Joe Neal’s 16 goals were vital as they lifted the title, having been pushed all the way by Mickleover prior to their 12 point deduction, and AFC Telford.

Oxford City – Harriers are joined at this level by Oxford City, who were relegated by some margin from the National League last season. Finishing a mammoth 20 points adrift of safety and conceding an average of 2 goals per game, they return to the North for the first time since 14/15 having been moved to the National League South from the 15/16 season onwards.

Peterborough Sports – Under the stewardship of Michael Gash and Luke Steele, Sports enjoyed a relatively quiet season finishing 15th in their second season at this level. Although one place lower than their maiden campaign, they did acquire one more point.

Radcliffe – Northern Premier League champions by 10 points, Radcliffe enjoyed a headline season under the management of Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley. 103 goals were plundered in a season of unprecedented success for a club who will have ambitions of more success, such is the experience at this level of the players and indeed, the management duo.

Rushall Olympic – Widely tipped to be relegated straight back to Step 3, you would have been a brave person to back The Pics to secure their safety. They did so on the final day, but not before some headline wins throughout the season, including a 1-0 home win against Boston. Under popular manager Liam McDonald, the Walsall based club managed to utilise links with local clubs to punch above their weight. McDonald would then leave the club in the summer, joining Stourbridge in the Southern League Central.

Scarborough Athletic – Buoyed by finishing on the fringes of the play offs in 22/23, hopes were high for Jonathan Greening’s men to go one better but they would only finish 13th. Not helped by losing star man Kieran Glynn to AFC Fylde in pre-season, The Seadogs’ 10 games without a win during February and March put paid to any lofty aspirations.

Scunthorpe United – The bookies favourites to lift the National League North trophy before a ball was kicked, The Iron would finish 8 points behind eventual winners Tamworth. Despite the 21 goals of Danny Whitehall, Jimmy Dean’s side fell in the semi-finals of the play offs. It wasn’t all plain sailing throughout the season, with financial issues threatening to plague the side. Ultimately, the failure to return to the National League would cost Jimmy Dean his job.

South Shields – An impressive first campaign at this level saw Shields finish in eighth place. Former Sunderland midfielder Julio Arca, who had a spell with the club in the twilight of his career, started the season in charge but left in December following a six game winless run despite being in eighth position. Paul Blackett was prolific, the former Gateshead man taking the Golden Boot with an impressive 29 goals.

Southport – Six points clear of the drop, finishing in 17th position, Southport experienced a difficult start to the season, picking up just one point from the first six games. At the end of August, Liam Watson was moved upstairs to make way for Jim Bentley. The former Morecambe manager oversaw a turnaround in The Sandgrounders’ fortunes and scooped the November Manager of the Month award.

Spennymoor Town – Just one point separated sixth and ninth and it was The Moors who took that ninth position. Former midfielder Jamie Chandler began the season in the hotseat before resigning in September. Lewis Dickman took the side until December before Graeme Lee became the side’s third manager of the season but one thing remained consistent; Glen Taylor scoring goals – 14 in total.

Warrington Town – Finishing exactly in the middle of the pack, 23/24 was a success for the newly promoted side who were contesting their first ever campaign at this level. Former Manchester City youth product Isaac Buckley-Ricketts was one of their key men, chipping in with 15 goals whilst they also managed to tempt former Liverpool and Derby County defender Andre Wisdom to Cantilever Park.

This article is about: League


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