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Blue Square Premier form guide

By Pete Oliver

Blue Square Premier

ALDERSHOT

Nickname: The Shots
Ground: The Recreation Ground
Capacity: 7,500
Last season: 9th
Manager: Gary Waddock (May 2007)

BBC Sport verdict: The Shots kick off a new era following the appointment of former QPR player and manager Gary Waddock as their new boss.

Aldershot boss Gary Waddock
Gary Waddock

However, this season may have to be one of steady if unspectacular progress following a quiet summer's transfer activity and pre-season injuries to key men Ricky Newman and Ryan Williams.

The departures of Darren Barnard and Mark Molesley may also be felt and the Shots will need a strikeforce of John Grant, Jonny Dixon and ex-WBA youngster Rob Elvins to fire them to a mid-table spot.

Key man: Striker John Grant bagged 23 goals in his first season with the Shots and after signing a new deal will be looking for another prolific campaign.


ALTRINCHAM

Nickname: The Robins
Ground: Moss Lane
Capacity: 6,085
Last season: 21st
Manager: Graham Heathcote (October 2002)

BBC Sport verdict: Only Boston's double demotion kept Altrincham up and they will be looking to make the most of their reprieve by keeping their destiny in their own hands.

606: DEBATE

Part-time status may again be a handicap but boss Graham Heathcote has made fairly major squad changes with some more experienced campaigners now at Moss Lane.

Defenders Chris Lane and Darren Tinson have been around the block, while in midfield Gareth Whalley and Ben Sedgemore will provide crucial know-how to lead the fight to stay out of the bottom four.

Key man: Goalkeeper Stuart Coburn is rated among the best in non-league and with an improved defence could provide the platform for safety.


BURTON ALBION

Nickname: The Brewers
Ground: Pirelli Stadium
Capacity: 6,500
Last season: 6th
Manager: Nigel Clough (October 1998)

BBC Sport verdict: Sixth place last season was Burton's highest ever finish and the Brewers' upward curve may not have peaked yet with some tried and tested summer signings adding to their solid look.

Burton manager Nigel Clough
Nigel Clough

Paul Carden has returned to League football at Accrington but the presence of Marc Goodfellow, Mark Greaves and David Farrell means experience will not be in short supply in midfield.

Tony James also looks a decent defensive signing, while Jake Edwards will provide proven support for Daryl Clare up front.

Key man: Striker Daryl Clare is an obvious choice but his track record demands respect and another productive season could see Burton take a further step closer to promotion.


CAMBRIDGE UNITED

Nickname: The U's
Ground: Abbey Stadium
Capacity: 9,716
Last season: 12th
Manager: Jimmy Quinn (September 2006)

BBC Sport verdict: Last season was little short of a disaster and better things will be demanded at the Abbey Stadium this time.

Manager Jimmy Quinn achieved his initial aim of keeping the U's up, but having built his own squad over the summer will now be eyeing the other end of the table.

Quinn previously got Shrewsbury promoted but needs one of his strikers to replace the goals of the departed Robbie Simpson - and for his new-look team to gel quickly to threaten a repeat.

Key man: Former Reading youngster Scott Rendell hit double figures for Crawley last season and may be the man to fill the void left by Robbie Simpson's move to Coventry.


CRAWLEY TOWN

Nickname: Red Devils
Ground: Broadfield Stadium
Capacity: 4,996
Last season: 18th
Manager: Steve Evans (May 2007)

BBC Sport verdict: With former title-winning Boston boss Steve Evans back in non-league it should be an interesting season on the south coast.

But the backlash of on-going financial problems at the Broadfield Stadium is a six-point penalty before the season starts.

Crawley winger Tony Scully
Tony Scully

A transfer embargo also means that the club's clutch of new signings are yet to be registered which suggests that Evans may have jumped from the frying pan to the fire.

Key man: Winger Tony Scully has had more clubs than Tiger Woods but seems to have settled at Crawley and adds a key dimension to their attack.


DROYLSDEN

Nickname: The Bloods
Ground: The Butchers Arms
Capacity: 3,000
Last season: Conference North Champions
Manager: Dave Pace (July 1995)

BBC Sport verdict: The Greater Manchester club gets its first taste of Blue Square Premier football and is determined to seize the moment.

Long-serving chairman/manager Dave Pace is no shrinking violet and his bullish approach may allow the Bloods to gain a foothold at this level.

His squad has a blend of experience from Football League, Blue Square and lower non-league levels and if they prove hard to beat at home could spring a few surprises.

Key man: Striker Steve Daly has scored goals at this level previously for Southport and should lend a cutting edge to the Bloods attack.


EBBSFLEET UNITED

Nickname: The Fleet
Ground: Stonebridge Road
Capacity: 5,011
Last season: 7th
Manager: Liam Daish (February 2005)

BBC Sport verdict: Last season's play-off challenge may be tough to repeat, especially after losing top-scorer Charlie MacDonald to Southend United.

But boss Liam Daish is proving to be adept at making the most of modest resources and looks to have made some solid summer signings.

The former Woking pair of Neil Barrett and Gary MacDonald will add useful extra experience and the three ex-Cards trick is completed by exciting striker Raphael Nade.

Key man: Chukki Eribenne has been around since starting out at Bournemouth and after a productive pre-season may finally find the net on a regular basis.


EXETER CITY

Nickname: The Grecians
Ground: St James Park
Capacity: 9,036
Last season: 5th
Manager: Paul Tisdale (June 2006)

BBC Sport verdict: Last season's play-off final defeat together with the departure of a couple of established players has raised a few question marks.

However, manager Paul Tisdale is reckoned to be a shrewd operator and he will not panic as he looks to keep the Grecians among the promotion contenders.

Exeter's Steve Basham
Steve Basham

Tisdale has returned to former club Team Bath to bring in a couple of new faces but it will be the core of last season's squad which will be expected to produce the goods.

Key man: Former Oxford and Preston striker Steve Basham is Exeter's highest profile summer recruit and Exeter will be relying on his pedigree to hunt a play-off place.


FARSLEY CELTIC

Nickname: The Villagers or Celts
Ground: Throstle Nest
Capacity: 3,900
Last season: Conference North play-off winners
Manager: Lee Sinnott (2003)

BBC Sport verdict: Farsley's remarkable rise has taken them as far as the Blue Square Premier and the battle is now on to stay there.

That will be tough but Celtic have had a good pre-season and in former Bradford City and Oldham defender Lee Sinnott they have a bright young manager who will give it his best shot.

Sinnott has gone with a large squad in a bid to compensate for part-time status and a solid defence including newcomers Scott McNiven and Mark Jackson could hold the key to their survival hopes.

Key man: Striker Tristram Whitman has played for half-a-dozen clubs in the Blue Square Premier and despite not hanging around for long has an eye for goal at this level.


FOREST GREEN ROVERS

Nickname: Rovers
Ground: Forest Green New Stadium
Capacity: 5,147
Last season: 14th
Manager: Jim Harvey (September 2006)

BBC Sport verdict: Forest Green were completely transformed by the arrival of Jim Harvey as manager and the revival may continue this season.

A top-10 finish is not beyond the Gloucestershire club with most of last season's squad still in place and Anthony Tonkin and Stuart Fleetwood adding to the mix.

Rovers should play some good stuff and having finally ended their away-day hoodoo relegation worries should be a thing of the past.

Key man: Playmaker Adriano Rigoglioso has always flourished under Harvey's guidance and if he stays fit will spark Rovers.


GRAYS ATHLETIC

Nickname: The Grays
Ground: New Recreation Ground
Capacity: 4,500
Last season: 19th
Manager: Justin Edinburgh (January 2007)

BBC Sport verdict: Four managers and a relegation battle last season made it one to forget for Grays.

But signs of a recovery were sown following the appointment of Justin Edinburgh and the former Spurs defender has had a busy summer of re-building.

If his new-look team can click quickly and their potential for goals is realised the Essex club should be back in the top half of the table.

Key man: Striker Danny Kedwell scored heavily at Conference South level and could be one to watch if he can handle the step up in class.


HALIFAX TOWN

Nickname: The Shaymen
Ground: The Shay
Capacity: 10,000
Last season: 16th
Manager: Chris Wilder (July 2002)

BBC Sport verdict: After losing their way last season the Shaymen will be looking to get back among the play-off challengers.

Chris Wilder
Chris Wilder

Using over 30 players did nothing for consistency and on-going off-field problems did nothing to help manager Chris Wilder's planning.

Wilder is working with a small squad but if he can overcome possible defensive problems and get the best out of striker Andy Campbell then at least he should see light at the end of the tunnel.

Key man: Big striker Darryn Stamp is a proven scorer at Conference level and should lead a Halifax revival if he stays fit.


HISTON

Nickname: The Stutes
Ground: Glassworld Stadium
Capacity: 3,009
Last season: Conference South Champions
Manager: Steve Fallon (1997)

BBC Sport verdict: Village club Histon has come a long way in a short space of time but will face its biggest challenge yet in trying to stay in the Blue Square Premier.

Long-serving manager Steve Fallon and assistant John Beck have added to their promotion-winning squad with seven new faces but the club will remain part-time.

History suggests that could take its toll over the course of the season but a deeply ingrained winning habit will give the Stutes a fighting chance of staying up.

Key man: Blue Square Premier experience will be key and former Dagenham striker Cliff Akurang brings that and an eye for goal.


KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS

Nickname: The Harriers
Ground: Aggborough Stadium
Capacity: 6,238
Last season: 10th
Manager: Mark Yates (January, 2006)

BBC Sport verdict: An FA Trophy final appearance last season continued Harriers' progress under Mark Yates but this time all their attention will be on the league.

Kidderminster should be capable of at least another top-10 finish and if they can add some consistency and improve on a poor home record then a play-off challenge is on the cards.

Yates has brought in a handful of new faces to bolster each department of his squad but it is in attack where the biggest improvement is needed.

Key man: Striker Justin Richards was signed to improve Kidderminster's poor goalscoring record and if he reproduces the form he showed at Woking he could be the missing link.


NORTHWICH VICTORIA

Nickname: The Vics
Ground: Victoria Stadium
Capacity: 4,500
Last season: 13th
Manager: Neil Redfearn (June 2007)

BBC Sport verdict: Early summer turmoil at the Vics saw successful manager Steve Burr and a crop of key players leave.

Northwich boss Neil Redfearn
Neil Redfearn

Neil Redfearn was given the task of picking up the pieces and the former top-flight midfielder has wasted no time in re-building.

Eight new players with League experience have come in and if the experience of Redfearn rubs off then the Vics should steady the ship and keep their heads above water.

Key man: Young forward Chris Williams missed most of last season with a broken leg but has the talent to make an impact in a new-look team.


OXFORD UNITED

Nickname: The U's
Ground: Kassam Stadium
Capacity: 12,500
Last season: 2nd
Manager: Jim Smith (March, 2006)

BBC Sport verdict: After messing up last season the U's will be wiser this time round as they launch another promotion bid.

Bald Eagle Jim Smith could have torn out his remaining hair over so many missed chances and will want a more ruthless streak from his side if they are to be a top-five side again.

Experienced defender Alex Jeannin has signed but Smith's summer transfer activity has been quiet so many of the players that missed the boat will get the chance to make amends for losing in the play-offs.

Key man: Despite Rob Duffy's 18 goals Oxford still lacked a clinical finisher and former Derby and Airdrie forward Garry Twigg may provide the answer.


RUSHDEN AND DIAMONDS

Nickname: The Diamonds
Ground: Nene Park
Capacity: 6,441
Last season: 12th
Manager: Garry Hill (February 2007)

BBC Sport verdict: Rushden's downward spiral looked to have bottomed out with the appointment of Garry Hill as manager.

Hill previously made Dagenham title challengers and could do the same with Rushden after they finished last season well.

More new faces have since clocked in at Nene Park and Curtis Woodhouse, Martin Foster and new signing Andy Burgess mean Rushden should have one of the best midfields around.

Key man: Midfielder Curtis Woodhouse packed in League football to pursue a boxing career but after signing for the Diamonds he showed that he still packs a punch on the football pitch as well.


SALISBURY CITY

Nickname: The Whites
Ground: Raymond McEnhill Stadium
Capacity: 3,500
Last season: Conference South runners-up
Manager: Nick Holmes (July, 2002)

BBC Sport verdict: Like the other promoted clubs getting their first taste of Blue Square Premier football, survival has to be the main target.

Salisbury boss Nick Holmes
Nick Holmes

Former Southampton stalwart Nick Holmes has signed a number of his squad on full-time terms to try and ease the transition.

Holmes and player-coach Tommy Widdrington should be helped by a nice mix of youth and experience with the likes of Jon Beswetherick, Jonathan Bass and new signing Darrell Clarke all lending Football League nous.

Key man: Striker Matt Tubbs scored 30 goals to lead the Whites to promotion last season and should prosper in this company after scoring on his England non-league debut.


STAFFORD RANGERS

Nickname: Boro
Ground: Marston Road
Capacity: 4,156
Last season: 20th
Manager: Phil Robinson (June 2002)

BBC Sport verdict: Stafford secured safety on the final day of last season and in truth would probably settle for the same again.

Manager Phil Robinson may need some late market moves to strengthen a squad depleted by the loss of a number of key players.

But he has proved in the past he can model a resilient team on modest resources and still has the strong backbone of a side in Wayne Daniel, Craig McAughtrie, Nathan Talbot, Kevin Street and veteran Neil Grayson.

Key man: Stafford have used their close proximity to Crewe to good effect and 19-year-old midfielder Chris Flynn could be another to profit from the switch.


STEVENAGE BOROUGH

Nickname: The Boro
Ground: Broadhall Way
Capacity: 7,100
Last season: 8th
Manager: Mark Stimson (May 2006)

BBC Sport verdict: Every season Stevenage start among the fancies for promotion and this year is no different.

In fact this might be their time now that boss Mark Stimson has had 12 months to find his feet at Broadhall Way and already has another FA Trophy success tacked onto his CV.

The league must now be his priority and with strength in depth in every area Boro look a good bet for the title if they can acquire the knack of scratching out vital wins when not on the top of their game.

Key man: Stevenage conceded too many goals last season and the signing of former Barnet and Peterborough defender Mark Arber could be key to their promotion hopes.


TORQUAY UNITED

Nickname: The Gulls
Ground: Plainmoor
Capacity: 6,104
Last season: 24th in League Two
Manager: Paul Buckle (May 2007)

BBC Sport verdict: The farcical events at Torquay last season would not have looked out of place in the resort's fictitious Fawlty Towers hotel.

Restoring credibility following relegation has been key this summer and under chief executive Colin Lee they look to have done that.

Manager Paul Buckle has also swept in with a new broom and a clutch of signings, including two from former club Exeter, which should have the Gulls soaring again to challenge for the play-offs.

Key man: Powerful striker Tim Sills had an unhappy time at Hereford last season but should enjoy being back at this level where he was previously a big success with Aldershot.


WEYMOUTH

Nickname: The Terras
Ground: Wessex Stadium
Capacity: 6,500
Last season: 11th
Manager: Jason Tindall (January 2007)

BBC Sport verdict: With Weymouth's future having been secured by a successful takeover at the Wessex Stadium the Terras will kick-off in a more settled frame of mind.

Weymouth boss Jason Tindall
Jason Tindall

The wild ambitions of 12 months ago may have to be tempered, however, with mid-table a more likely target than promotion.

Player-manager Jason Tindall had to bide his time but has secured a number of potential key signings, including former Bournemouth team-mate Marcus Browning and ex-Arsenal and Watford midfielder Paolo Vernazza.

Key man: Stuart Beavon made a goalscoring arrival in January and could be in demand if his first full season at this level is equally as productive.


WOKING

Nickname: The Cards
Ground: Kingfield Stadium
Capacity: 6,036
Last season: 15th
Manager: Frank Gray (May 2007)

BBC Sport verdict: Big changes at Kingfield this summer with Frank Gray appointed as manager following the end of Glenn Cockerill's five-year reign.

Gray's mission may also be a long-term one, though, with his summer signings focused on youth and potential.

The former European Cup winner has recruited promising players from lower levels to blend with the survivors from the previous regime and mid-table may again be the result.

Key man: Still only 19, Giuseppe Sole will be one of the more experienced members of the Woking side and his goals will be crucial to their aspirations.


YORK CITY

Nickname: The Minstermen
Ground: KitKat Crescent
Capacity: 9,034
Last season: 4th
Manager: Billy McEwan (February, 2005)

BBC Sport verdict: Despite reaching the play-offs last season, York have had a major turnover in personnel.

For the second summer running they have lost their top scorer but boss Billy McEwan has brought in Paul Brayson, Chris Beardsley and Onome Sodje to replace the goals of Clayton Donaldson.

Midfielder Neil Bishop's departure also leaves a hole but McEwan has rebuilt squads before and if he can get his defence right than City could challenge again.

Key man: Midfielder Stuart Elliott has seen service with more than a dozen clubs, but that wanderlust is not a reflection of his ability and his presence on the ball should get York ticking.



Conference Premier table
Saturday, 2 November 2013 17:11 UK
    P GD PTS
1 Cambridge 17 18 38

2 Kidderminster 17 10 32
3 Luton 17 14 31
4 Grimsby 17 8 30
5 Salisbury 17 6 30

6 Braintree Town 17 9 29
7 Barnet 17 8 28
8 Welling 17 5 28
9 Alfreton Town 17 2 28
10 Nuneaton 17 0 27
11 Gateshead 17 4 26
12 FC Halifax 17 0 25
13 Lincoln City 17 0 22
14 Macclesfield 17 -1 22
15 Forest Green 17 1 21
16 Southport 17 -5 21
17 Wrexham 17 -3 19
18 Dartford 17 -10 18
19 Hereford 17 -6 17
20 Tamworth 17 -9 17

21 Woking 17 -10 14
22 Chester 17 -13 14
23 Aldershot 17 2 13
24 Hyde 17 -30 3


see also
The point of pre-season
08 Aug 07 |  Football
How to plan for pre-season training
06 Aug 07 |  Football
How to watch football this season
02 Aug 07 |  Football


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