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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 August, 2003, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
Conference form guide

ACCRINGTON STANLEY

Nickname: Stanley/Reds
Ground: Interlink Express Stadium
Capacity: 7,500
Last season: UniBond League champions
Manager: John Coleman
In: Paul Cook, Gordon Armstrong, John Durnin, Darren Connell, Andrew Waine

BBC Sport verdict: Unchartered territory for the former Football League club, but they do not plan to stop their comeback here. Going up again at the first time of asking would be a tall order. But with the no-nonsense John Coleman in charge and some proven quality in the side, well-run Stanley could be a surprise package.
Key man: Paul Cook


ALDERSHOT

Nickname: The Shots
Ground: The Recreation Ground
Capacity: 7,500
Last season: Rymans League champions
Manager: Terry Brown
In: Richard Barnard, Tim Sills, Luke Gedling, Aaron McLean, Jon Challinor

BBC Sport verdict: Like Accrington, who they meet in a televised game on Sunday, the Shots are also heading back to the League and will be well supported. Part-time status will not make it easy, but an exciting strikeforce could help Terry Brown's men at least find their feet in their first Conference campaign.
Key man: Roscoe d'Sane


Barnet manager Martin Allen
Allen will be aiming for the play-offs
BARNET

Nickname: The Bees
Ground: Underhill
Capacity: 4,057
Last season: 11th
Manager: Martin Allen
In: Giuliano Grazioli, Danny Maddix, Liam Hatch, Ian Hendon, Tony Taggart, Chris Plummer, Mark Rooney, Simon King, Joe Gamble (loan), Mark Williams, Guy Lopez

BBC Sport verdict: Former Reading coach Martin Allen has reshaped his squad for his first full season in charge at Barnet. A mix of youth and experience could provide a play-off challenge if Junior Agogo's goals are replaced following his departure. Giuliano Grazioli's arrival as part of the swap deal should help.
Key man: Giuliano Grazioli


BURTON ALBION

Nickname: The Brewers
Ground: Eton Park
Capacity: 4,500
Last season: 16th
Player-manager: Nigel Clough
In: Ryan Sugden, Jon Howard, Ian Wright, Robbie Talbot, Steve Chettle, Barry Williams, Lee Colkin

BBC Sport verdict: Nigel Clough will have learned plenty from the Brewers' first season in the Conference and they can be expected to be a lot more competitive. Clough has brought in Conference and Nationwide League experience and improved home form could bring a top-half finish.
Key man: Jon Howard


CHESTER CITY

Nickname: The Blues
Ground: Deva Stadium
Capacity: 6,000
Last season: 4th
Manager: Mark Wright
In: Kevin Rapley, Ian Foster, Andy Harris

BBC Sport verdict: After conceding just 31 goals and scoring 59 last season, boss Mark Wright has not surprisingly opted to reshuffle his strikeforce rather than his defence. Ian Foster and Kevin Rapley will now be the ones looking to support Daryl Clare with a repeat of last season's play-off place the minimum target.
Key man: Daryl Clare


Dagenham manager Garry Hill
Daggers will be promotion favourites this season
DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE

Nickname: The Daggers
Ground: Victoria Road
Capacity: 6,000
Last season: 5th
Manager: Garry Hill
In: Leon Braithwaite, Alex Meechan, Chris Piper, Lenny Piper, Keith Scott, Jimmy Jackson, Mark Bentley

BBC Sport verdict: The Daggers have been knocking on the door for promotion in recent seasons and should do so again. Boss Garry Hill has made changes with some old favourites moving on. Mark Stein stays, however, with new strike partners to help try and erase the disappointment of play-off heartache in the spring.
Key man: Mark Stein


EXETER CITY

Nickname: The Grecians
Ground: St James Park
Capacity: 9,036
Last season: Relegated from the Nationwide League (23rd)
Manager: Eamonn Dolan
In: Dwane Lee
BBC Sport verdict: Exeter stalwart Eamonn Dolan may have been handed a poison chalice by taking on the manager's job. The former youth-team boss will need all the help of Steve Perryman to stop the cash-stricken club, which has shed a dozen players, from continuing its fall from grace.
Key man: James Coppinger


FARNBOROUGH TOWN

Nickname: Boro
Ground: Cherrywood Road
Capacity: 4,163
Last season: 13th
Manager: Tommy Taylor
In: Richard Hodgson, Billy Beall, Matt Pattison, Jay Lovett, Dominic Reece, Barrington Belgrave, Mark Osborn, Will Packham, Mick Burton, Tom Neill, Sacha Opinel, Adie Hayes, Ali Chabaan, Chris Hotchings, Ross Weatherstone, Dalvinder Pardesi

BBC Sport verdict: Former Darlington, Orient and Cambridge boss Tommy Taylor is building a completely new side for his first campaign in charge.
Key man: Billy Beall


FOREST GREEN ROVERS

Nickname: Rovers
Ground: The Lawn
Capacity: 5,141
Last season: 9th
Manager: Colin Addison
In: Denny Ingram, Gareth Stoker, Steve Jones, Scott Rogers

BBC Sport verdict: Even with all Colin Addison's experience, Rovers will do well to match last season's impressive position. The part-timers might be hard to break down, but scoring goals could prove a problem following summer departures and some near-misses in the transfer market.
Key man: Neil Grayson


GRAVESEND AND NORTHFLEET

Nickname: Fleet
Ground: Stonebridge Road
Capacity: 3,300
Last season: 17th
Manager: Andy Ford
In: Lee Shearer, Robin Trott, Eddie McClements, Anthony Hogg, Ben Abbey, James Pinnock, Pat Gradley, Lee Turner, Alex O'Reilly, Andrew Drury

BBC Sport verdict: Boss Andy Ford has had a busy summer with plenty of comings and goings. He needs his new side to gel quickly and while there is Conference experience in the ranks, staying above the drop zone may again have to be the aim.
Key man: Lee Shearer


HALIFAX TOWN

Nickname: Shaymen
Ground: The Shay
Capacity: 9,900
Last season: 8th
Manager: Chris Wilder
In: Lee Elam, Jon Cullen, Danny Hudson, Ryan Mallon, Darren Hockenhull, Lewis Killeen, Christian Lee, Ryan Hindley, Clint Davies

BBC Sport verdict: Town boss Chris Wilder again looks to have made some useful signings. A lack of goals and a transfer embargo cost Town dear last season. With the latter lifted and new strikers on the books, a return to the Nationwide League could be on the cards.
Key man: Ryan Mallon


Hereford manager Graham Turner
Turner has had little cash to spend this summer
HEREFORD UNITED

Nickname: The Bulls
Ground: Edgar Street
Capacity: 8,843
Last season: 6th
Manager: Graham Turner
In: Ryan Green, Jordan King, David Brown, Danny Bertram, Dean Craven

BBC Sport verdict: Evolution rather than revolution is the watchword at Edgar Street. Boss Graham Turner cannot throw the money about, but expect the former Wolves and Villa boss to challenge for the play-offs again if Steve Guinan and David Brown get amongst the goals.
Key man: David Brown


LEIGH RMI

Nickname: The Railwaymen
Ground: Hilton Park
Capacity: 8,000
Last season: 18th
Manager: Mark Patterson
In: Warren Peyton, David McNiven, Marcus Hallows, Ian Martin, Neil Robinson (loan), Phil Starbuck (player-assistant)

BBC Sport verdict: Mark Patterson did well to keep Leigh up last season but embarks on his first full season with another battle on his hands. Financial restraints and small crowds are a constant problem, but Patterson looks to have recruited well and could work the oracle again.
Key man: Warren Peyton


MARGATE

Nickname: Gate
Ground: The Crabble (shared with Dover)
Capacity: 4,800
Last season: 10th
Manager: Chris Kinnear
In: Warren Patmore, Che Stadhart, Darren Annon

BBC Sport verdict: Margate again start the campaign as tenants at Dover, while redevelopment work continues at Hartsdown Park. There will, however, be a new look to the team with a couple of stalwarts moving on. A repeat of last season's top-half finish would be a decent effort and could depend on goals from Warren Patmore and Che Stadhart.
Key man: Che Stadhart


MORECAMBE

Nickname: The Shrimpers
Ground: Christie Park
Capacity: 6,300
Last season: 2nd
Manager: Jim Harvey
In: Chris Lane, Dean Howell

BBC Sport verdict: After a best-ever finish last season, expect more of the same. Jim Harvey has lost a couple of players but has made a couple of clever signings and has an abundance of homegrown talent to call on. Also has a couple of the Conference's most proven performers in a well-balanced squad which looks at least play-off bound.
Key man: Wayne Curtis


NORTHWICH VICTORIA

Nickname: The Vics
Ground: Wincham Park (shared with Witton Albion)
Capacity: 6,000
Last season: 14th
Manager: Steve Davis
In: Phil Brazier, Chris Ward, Chris Blackburn, Chris Thompson, Mark Foran, Andy Woods, Lee Woodyatt

BBC Sport verdict: Steve Davis has taken on the job vacated by Jimmy Quinn and has worked the transfer market well in the summer on a limited budget. Davis has also held onto Mark Devlin and Richard Norris, crucial to the Vics' likelihood of keeping the strugglers at bay.
Key man: Chris Thompson


SCARBOROUGH

Nickname: The Seasiders
Ground: McCain Stadium
Capacity: 5,900
Last season: 7th
Manager: Russell Slade
In: Mark Quayle, James Dudgeon, Jacques Williams, Ashley Lyth, Stephen Capper, Matthew Redmile, Adam Sollitt, Chris Senior, Wayne Gill

BBC Sport verdict: With a crop of late season signings having had the summer to bed in, Scarborough will hope to hit the ground running. With a couple more arrivals on the way, Russell Slade's men could sustain a play-off challenge this time around if the goals start to flow.
Key man: Mark Quayle


Shrewsbury Town manager Jimmy Quinn
Quinn could take the Shrews straight back to the League
SHREWSBURY

Nickname: The Shrews
Ground: Gay Meadow
Capacity: 8,000
Last season: Relegated from the Nationwide League (24th)
Manager: Jimmy Quinn
In: Martin O'Connor, Gregor Rioch, Jake Sedgemore, Colin Cramb, Ian Fitzpatrick, Dave Ridler, Darren Tinson

BBC Sport verdict: Relegated last season, but no signs of a terminal decline. With Jimmy Quinn providing the new broom following his arrival from Northwich as manager, a promotion challenge is firmly on the cards. The Shrews look strong in every department and could be the team to beat.
Key man: Martin O'Connor


STEVENAGE BOROUGH

Nickname: Boro
Ground: Broadhall Way
Capacity: 6,546
Last season: 12th
Manager: Graham Westley
In: Geoff Pitcher (loan), Rocky Baptiste, Howard Forinton, Peter Costello, Lee Flynn, Jamie Gould

BBC Sport verdict: Everyone connected with Stevenage will be expecting nothing less than a play-off challenge now that Graham Westley has hit feet firmly under the manager's desk. Westley has boosted his strikeforce further over the summer and with plenty of strength in depth, Boro's ambitions could finally go close to being achieved.

Key man: Geoff Pitcher


TAMWORTH

Nickname: The Lambs
Ground: The Lamb
Capacity: 3,410
Last season: Dr Martens League champions
Manager: Darron Gee
In: Phil Whitehead, Marc McGregor, Gary Setchell, Brett Darby, Joey Taylor

BBC Sport verdict: Boss Darron Gee has released a clutch of the players who helped win promotion last season as he gears up for a first crack at Conference level. With Mark Cooper as his new player-coach, survival must be the priority. More new faces are likely to follow the key signing of experienced keeper Phil Whitehead.
Key man: Marc McGregor


TELFORD

Nickname: The Bucks
Ground: The Bucks Head
Capacity: 4,268
Last season: 15th
Manager: Mick Jones
In: Fitzroy Simpson, Trevor Challis, Michael Blackwood, Scott Eustace, Sam Ricketts, John Grant, Lee Williams, Richard Lavery, Stuart Whitehead, Lee Mills, Scott Green, Chris Mackenzie, Chris Murphy, Martin Taylor

BBC Sport verdict: Telford have been the summer's major moves and shakers with chairman Andy Shaw opening the purse strings for new boss Mick Jones. The former Plymouth and Huddersfield boss has packed his new-look squad with Nationwide League pedigree. On paper, the Bucks looks top-five certainties but need everything to click and will be regarded as the major scalps.
Key man: Lee Mills


WOKING

Nickname: The Cards
Ground: Kingfield
Capacity: 6,000
Last season: 19th
Head coach: Glenn Cockerill
In: Ian Selley, Steve Ferguson, Ashley Bayes, Ryan Northmore, Scott Canham, Amos Foyewa, Gary McDonald, Joe McNab, Liam Cockerill, Ian Proctor, Davis Haule

BBC Sport verdict: Woking boss Glenn Cockerill will be looking for much better than last season's flirt with danger following the switch to full-time. The former Southampton midfielder has done some major re-building over the summer, but it could be the late arrivals of Ian Selley and Louis Jefferson which could be key.
Key man: Ian Selley





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