Danny Burnell – @dannyburnell_92

I take a look at our relegation rivals, the key games & recent form.

MAIDSTONE: 24th – 22 points

League Form (Last 5): LLLLD

Bottom of the pile Maidstone face the biggest challenge to stay up by virtue of having the least points amount of points and playing the most amount of games. Hakan Hayrettin received his P45 at the start of January after a run of bad results, but caretaker manager George Elokobi has done little to help his case of receiving the job on a permanent basis, with the Kent side losing 9 of their last 10 league games, including a 1-0 defeat at Plainmoor. There has been minor respite for the Amber & Gold’s with an impressive Trophy win at Notts County last month, and a very narrow defeat to Wrexham courtesy of a late goal.

The Gulls’ are currently 4 points better off than the Stones’, and have played two fewer games. The two sides have already met twice this season with the home side coming out on top 1-0 on both occasions.

The next 5: Still in the Trophy, they face a tough trip to Eastleigh as they bid to progress to the Quarter-Finals. Their next 5 league games sees them face three fellow strugglers, two at home in what looks to be a crunch period. They travel to Oldham on 18th, before three consecutives home games against Eastleigh, Gateshead & Scunthorpe. The start of March see’s them visit Solihull Moors.

Key fixture: Maidstone’s last 6 fixtures look brutal, having to face sides all vying for promotion. The away clash with Maidenhead on 16th March looks to be a key fixture in the run-in.

SCUNTHORPE: 23rd – 23 points

League Form (Last 5): WLWDL

The Iron lie where they’ve spent the majority of this decade. The troubled club sit just a point above Maidstone having played a game less. Since their relegation to the NL this summer, the club has continued to struggle, with off the field troubles dominating the headlines. Having been in the Championship as recently as 2011, the Lincolnshire club did face a winding up petition before being saved at the final hour by David Hilton. Keith Hill started the season in charge at Glandford park before a spate of caretaker managers. Jimmy Dean now heads them up arriving from Peterborough Sports at the end of January, and has already made waves with as many as 7 new signings in recent days. ‘Manic Monday’s’ don’t always work out for the best, as we well know!

Lowly Scunthorpe salvaged a draw back in October in the clash at Plainmoor. We meet again on April Fool’s Day in what will undoubtedly be a six-pointer. There are signs of hope and revival on the east coast, but like Maidstone, they face an uphill struggle to prevent back-to-back relegations.

The next 5: Hit ‘n’ miss Dagenham are the visitors a week Saturday, before a midweek trip to Wrexham. That’s followed by two further away games at Boreham Wood & Maidstone, with Eastleigh coming to them a week later.

Key fixture: The final day sees them travel to Dorking. The picture will be a lot clearer then in what is shaping up to be a relegation decider.

TORQUAY: 22nd – 26 points

League Form (Last 5): LWWDL

Similar form to our Claret & Blue rivals. We all know the woes at Plainmoor this season. The last quarter of this season see’s us travel to Gateshead, Scunthorpe, Dorking & Maidenhead, as well as hosting York in what are all crucial fixtures.

The next 5: Barnet visit in the league a week after the Trophy clash. Dorking away on the 21st Feb is huge, before back-to-back home games with Southend & Bromley. We visit mid-table Aldershot on 4th March.

Key fixture: With United looking to stay within touching distance of 20th spot, Dorking away on the 21st February looks very very crucial!

GATESHEAD: 21st – 28 points

League Form (Last 5): DDLWW

Very much the form team heading into February. Impressive victories on the road at Wealdstone & Solihull have given the ‘Heed real hope of avoiding the swift return to the NLN. They have stuck with their former Gulls’ defender-turned-boss Mike Williamson as they’ve spent the majority of the season within the drop zone. They have much more hope now as they sit just two points from Dorking, with a game a hand. That game in hand exists over us aswell, so have every chance at beating the drop. It’s chalk and cheese regarding their home & away form. They sit a respectable 12th in the away form table, whilst in contrast, sit bottom of the home form table, having picked up just 12 points from 13 games.

Like to so many this season, Gateshead somehow managed to go home with a point when the two met last year. Torquay make the mammoth trip north in mid-March hoping to inflict further pain on the Heed’s home form.

The next 5: They face relegation rivals Oldham twice in the space of a week, with a trip to Southend in between. The month end see’s them travel to Maidstone, whilst Chesterfield visit in early March.

Key fixture: With their home form suffering, they need to put that right against Scunthorpe when they visit on 7th April.

DORKING: 20th – 30 points

League Form (Last 5): DLLLL

The out-of-form side going into this month. Wanderers’ looked every bit of a solid mid-table team when visiting Plainmoor back in November, but just two wins since has seen them bang in trouble. It’s not scoring goals that’s the issue for this mob, having outscored 2 of the sides currently occupying play-off spots, it’s keeping them out, with the London side leaking an ‘impressive’ 69 goals in 29 games. Owner-Manager Marc White has his own style and brand but it’s new territory for this club, as they struggle in a division for the first time in their existence. It’s been a meteoric rise for the side who were playing park football as recently as the early 2000’s, but it’s no doubt the biggest challenge in their short history is staying in the NL.

A late Mark Ellis goal clinched a draw in November. The Gulls’ travel to the capital on the 21st, looking to extend Wanderers’ poor run. Nothing less than 3 points on the plastic pitch is required. The two sides have played the same amount of games.

The next 5: Another side still in the Trophy as they visit Aldershot on Saturday. League-wise, a short trip to Bromley is prior to that six-pointer on the 21st. Tough looking tests at Wrexham and Boreham Wood finish off the month, before Halifax rock up at Meadowbank.

Key fixture: 18th March sees them travel to York as one of them look to steer themselves out of relegation trouble.

OLDHAM: 19th – 31 points

League Form (Last 5): WWDLW

The Latics’ look to finally be heading towards safety after a purple patch. David Unsworth took the reigns back in September, and after a dreadful start, he appears to have gotten his newly assembled squad firing. No doubt the highest budget of all the relegation strugglers, which makes it even more questionable about the wrongs of Oldham Athletic over recent seasons. With games in hand over the likes of York & Maidenhead, they’ll be looking to secure mid-table obscurity over the coming months, recent wins against Daggers did plenty to help their cause.

Just the one point for United over the two games this season. A goalless season opener was unspectacular, but the pre Christmas game at Boundary Park had BT viewers hooked. A 3-2 home win was the result to compound Torquay’s misery. Athletic are a comfortable 5 points above us with a game in hand.

The next 5: The afore mentioned games over Gateshead look crucial, 6 points for either side will go some way to securing safety. They host bottom of the league Maidstone in between, with games away at Chesterfield and Barnet completing the next 5.

Key fixture: The Latics’ travel to Scunthorpe on 10th April, where they could potentially see themselves save with a win.

YORK: 18th – 32 points

League Form (Last 5): WLLLL

Four losses on the trot see’s The Minsterman up against it. A bizarre decision to relieve John Askey of his duties in November looks to be a decision they are very much regretting. With the club in the relative comfort of 12th place, Askey parted to make way for David Webb, who himself has since been dismissed. Plainmoor favourite Mark Ellis has come in to shore things up at the back but they’ll need a lot more from their side to avoid the drop. York are in freefall, and having played a game more than the Gulls’, they need to be the target to catch.

A comfortable 1-0 for the home side back on 8th October, but they’ve only won twice since. York visit TQ1 in mid-April, where it could already be over for one, or possibly both, of these sides.

The next 5: Trophy action at Southend is followed by a trip to Wealdstone. They play two home games in 4 days against Boreham Wood & Yeovil ahead of trips to Eastleigh and Dagenham.

Key fixture: They travel to Plainmoor on 15th April, with just two games left thereafter. A win could be pivotal for one of the sides.

YEOVIL: 17th – 32 points

League Form (Last 5): WLWDD

A solid defence that is up there with the best of them this season, but it’s in attack where the Glovers’ woes start. A measly 25 goals in 28 games highlights their problem area, and failure to beat Maidstone & Scunthorpe at Huish Park does little to aid their cause. Chris Hargreaves was swiftly removed as manager, with Mark Cooper stepping in to replace him. They’ve shown signs of improvement under new leadership, but they are by no means out of the relegation dog-fight. Four points over us at Christmas would have seen them purring, but for now, until they can start hitting the back of the net, they are right in the relegation mix.

1-1 on Boxing Day was followed by a 2-0 loss a few days later. Yeovil have a game in hand on the Gulls’, and two in hand on Maidenhead and York who sandwich them in the table.

The next 5: A tough test awaits as Notts County come to town. Yeovil then travel to the two sides either side of them in the table, before tough home games against Altrincham & Woking.

Key fixture: Dorking at home on Easter Monday looks set to be huge.

MAIDENHEAD: 16th – 33 points

League Form (Last 5): LLWDL

By no means safe as they sit just 5 points above the drop zone, having played two games more than many around them. It’s been a typical Maidenhead season with them showing no real signs of being in the relegation mix, whilst making no real desire to improve on their lower table position. The Gulls’ sit 7 behind with a game in hand, so will make them their stretch-target to try and overhaul come season end.

The Magpies came and stole the points on a Tuesday night in October with a last minute strike. The Yellows’ travel east on Easter Monday where the picture will become so much clearer.

The next 5: Eastleigh & Halifax away are either side of that Yeovil match. Dagenham & Wrexham visit Berkshire at the back of this month/start March.

Key fixture: The final day sees them travel to Gateshead, as they look to inflict further home punishment on the Heed.







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