Thomas Kelly – @Tommyktufc
Thomas discusses the newly presented fixture list for 21-22
How are the heads today? England’s victory in the Euros last night was simply fantastic, but although it will be forever stamped in history, it played second fiddle to something much more important. Yep, I’m talking about the National League fixtures being released!
With restrictions on attendance at football stadiums set to be lifted, fans all across the country look set to return & hopefully be able to travel across the country safely supporting their clubs once again for the whole of the campaign.
I’ve decided to split the fixtures up by month and look at the potential key games from each month with our editor Dom providing a sprinkling of stats for you! It’s important to state that it is impossible to predict how we or any other team will fare going into the new season and I have based this article on my own personal opinions on how I think certain clubs will do this season, e.g.; Notts/Wrexham/Stockport/Us (hopefully) going for promotion.
Sat 21 – Altrincham H, Sat 28 – Notts County A, Mon 30 – Woking H
Gary Johnson’s side kick off the new season at home to Alty and I for one am delighted to start our campaign back at Plainmoor. After the heartbreak just a few weeks ago, I am hopeful that a packed Plainmoor will cheer the lads on to start the season in the right way. Alty will provide a decent test to start with before we head to Notts County. Yep, the first away trip is to Notts County. No question the standout fixture of the month. Having beaten them in the play-off semi-final and then having Kyle Cameron leave us for them, you can expect the atmosphere between both sets of fans to be brilliant. Considering we haven’t been able to go on away days in so long, Nottingham isn’t the worst of places to restart the joys of an away day, especially on a bank holiday weekend! Lots of pressure on Notts to do well this season, can little Torquay upset the apple cart once again? We end the month at home to Woking, another side with recent history with the Gulls. After furloughing many of their players towards the end of last season, their form dropped massively but I’ve heard from a few of their fans that they are hopeful of challenging for a play-off spot, so it will be interesting to see how that goes for them.
Sat 4 – Maidenhead United A, Sat 11 – Grimsby Town H, Tue 14 – Solihull Moors A, Sat 18 – Southend United H, Sat 25 – Chesterfield A
September sees the Gulls face both of the relegated L2 sides in Grimsby and Southend, both at Plainmoor and with both sides harbouring an immediate return to the EFL so at the time of writing, you would expect both to be very completive games. Before that, Torquay will look to put the nightmare of last season’s 4-1 drubbing by Maidenhead behind them in the opening game of September. The other game that stands out is away at Chesterfield. After squeezing into the play-offs last season, the Spireites are another side looking to return to the EFL and will be wanting to start the season of well. There’s also a nice trip to Solihull on Tuesday for us as well in the middle of the month. How lovely.
Sat 2 – Wealdstone H, Tue 5 – Boreham Wood A, Sat 9 – Bromley A, Sat 16 – Emirates FA Cup 4Q, Sat 23 – King’s Lynn Town H, Sat – 30 Wrexham A
Without question the standout game of October is away at big money spenders Wrexham. The Welsh side, under ownership of Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, are looking to get the club back into the EFL after a 14 year absence, the longest out of any club in the EFL. Having missed out on the play-offs on the final day, Wrexham are the favourites to win the league at the time of writing. It will be interesting to see how they do and how they cope with the pressure. Josh Umerah & Matt Buse will return to Plainmoor in early October with Wealdstone coming to Plainmoor, before the Tuesday night trip to Boreham Wood…. fun. Sandwiched between Bromley on the 3g & Kings Lynn is the FA Cup 4QR away (probably away to Aldershot!), what we would do for a decent cup campaign for once!
Sat 6 – Emirates FA Cup 1, Sat 13 – Dover Athletic H, Sat 20 – Barnet A, Tue 23 – Aldershot Town A, Sat 27 – FC Halifax Town H
Would you look at that. Aldershot away on a Tuesday night, you do love to spoil us don’t you National League! It’s part of the three certainties of life, death, taxes and playing Aldershot away on a Tuesday night. That being said (FA Cup progression pending), it is the only Tuesday night game in November. Dover (Should they still be in business by then) start us off at Plainmoor before a trip to North London to the Hive to face Barnet before ending the month at home to FC Halifax. Hopefully we can make it past the first round of the FA Cup this season as well.
Sat 4 – Weymouth A/Emirates FA Cup 2, Sat 11 – Stockport County H, Sat 18 – Buildbase FA Trophy 3, Sun 26 – Yeovil Town H, Tue 28 – Eastleigh A
The run up to Christmas and New Year looks set to be a very competitive one and subject to the FA Trophy draw, one of minimal travel. The standout fixture is our Boxing Day game with Yeovil and I’m sure we would all love a repeat of the 6-1 thrashing we gave them last Boxing Day. The Gulls head to Dorset at the beginning of December to face Weymouth before facing another of the league’s big spenders in Stockport at home and seeing Ben Whitfield back at Plainmoor after his departure from us. No offense Ben but I hope you have a stinker!! Finally, the Gulls end the year, on a Tuesday night at Eastleigh, another fixture the computer loves to give us on a Tuesday. Standard.
Sun 2 – Yeovil Town A, Sat 8 – Dagenham & Redbridge H (Emirates FA Cup 3), Sat 15 – Buildbase FA Trophy 4, Sat 22 – Altrincham A, Tue 25 – Solihull Moors H
Who loves an open terrace in winter at the beginning of January? As long as us and Yeovil are in the same division, I suppose we should come to expect it. Torquay begin 2022 away at Yeovil before hopefully contesting Manchester City in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup, if not then it’s home to Dagenham, same thing right? We end the month with a trip to Altrincham and host Solihull on a Tuesday night with a potential FA Trophy game in the middle of the month should we take the competition seriously again. Honestly, I couldn’t care less but that’s just me. Hopefully if we do progress through it, we are at home the entire way this season.
Sat 5 – Wrexham H (Emirates FA Cup 4), Sat – 12 Dover Athletic A (Buildbase FA Trophy 5), Sat 19 – Barnet H, Tue 22 – Boreham Wood H, Sat 26 – Wealdstone A
Right now, the only standout side you would expect to be up there challenging is Wrexham but who knows by February how accurate my predictions will be. If going by last season it certainly looks a lot nicer set of fixtures to have but again, expect the un-expected in the National League. Dover away being the longest trip for us in February (FA Trophy dependant of course)…just in case you fancy it.
Sat 5 – Bromley H, Sat 12 – King’s Lynn Town A (Buildbase FA Trophy 6), Sat 19 – FC Halifax Town A, Tue 22 – Aldershot Town H, Sat 26 – Weymouth H
Some long journeys take place in March with trips to Kings Lynn & FC Halifax but back to back home games to finish the month with Shots & Weymouth heading to TQ1. I think Bromley could be dark horses again for promotion and I expect another difficult game should they be pushing for the play-offs once more, with Kings Lynn & Weymouth I expect fighting it out to stay out of the bottom three.
Sat 2 – Stockport County A (Buildbase FA Trophy Semi-Final), Sat 9 – Notts County H, Fri 15 – Woking A, Mon 18 – Eastleigh H, Sat 23 – Grimsby Town A, Sat 30 – Maidenhead United H
Last season, you got the impression that our fixtures towards the end of season looked so much trickier than Suttons run in. I get the same feeling with our final two months of fixtures should we hopefully be challenging for the top again or pushing for a top seven finish. It’s hard to look past the Stockport & Notts fixtures as potential key games heading into the final few months of the NL season. It’s hard to predict now whether these games will have any meaning on them whatsoever but I’m hoping they do. Add in Woking away, Eastleigh at home and Grimsby away into the mix and that becomes a very challenging run of fixtures for any side with promotion aspirations.
Mon May 2 Dagenham & Redbridge A, Sat May 7 Chesterfield H, Sun May 15 Southend United A, Sun May 22 Buildbase FA Trophy Final
The final three league games in May (right now) look just as tough. I imagine all three of these sides will be eying play-offs spots as a minimum target for this season and like for April, should all the sides we expect to be up there end up there, it’s going to be one completive run of fixtures to end the season. That being said, having Southend away for the last game will hopefully result in the same celebrations of promotion just like in 2004. Omens and all that right?
Hopefully Gary Johnson & the squad can put the disappointment of the play-off final penalty shootout behind them and get us challenging for promotion once again. I think this season will be the most competitive National League in many a season and all I can hope is that by the end of May 2022, we’ll be back where we belong.