With the National League South teams having 15 or so games to go in the season, I have decided to take a look at the relegation dogfight and to attempt to determine what sides I feel are fighting tooth and nail to keep their league status and which ones may suffer the drop due to financial woes, the loss of players and which sides are just simply failing to pick points up where it matters most. So without further ado, let’s take a look at what sides I feel will be taking the plunge and fighting to stay in the National League South:
The Brighton-based side are the first side to come into the list, with a poor run of form having them slide down the table and sit 20th as the table stands. Whitehawk started the season off poorly with a 3-1 loss away at Weston-super-Mare and on the 28th January, they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat against the Somerset side again, therefore costing joint-managers Alan Payne and Paul Reid their job at the helm. And with teams such as Dartford, Ebbsfleet, and Maidenhead all coming up in the next month, Whitehawk have a fight on their hands as they look for their fifth manager of the season.
Relegation Rating: 2/5
The side from Kent really are in trouble. They currently sit rock-bottom of the National League South table and from my point of view, I do not see any way out for ‘The Gate’. They have obtained 16 points from their 26 games and conceded a hefty 56 goals, with themselves only being able to score four goals in the last 13 league games. With the club being a shambles on and off the pitch, and manager Nikki Bull not knowing where his next win is going to come from, I feel that this ship has well and truly sunk.
Relegation Rating: 5/5
This side are in serious financial trouble and need to pull themselves together if they want a chance of staying up this season. They have receiving a winding-up order this season however it would appear that they have done enough to keep themselves in business. But, with it also appearing that Gosport lied on their application when leasing their ground from the council, Gosport may continue to act as a business and a football club, but may be without a home. And with the side having conceded 65 goals on the pitch, and balanced two points above the relegation zone, they may be saying goodbye to the National League South come 29th April.
Relegation Rating: 3/5
Stortford currently sit in 21st place and have seemingly steadied their ship slightly however, they still lie in the relegation zone and are four points adrift of safety. With their last league win having come away at Truro City on 3rd December, Stortford have slowly been keeping themselves afloat due to good performances at the beginning of the season. But with the second half of the season in full swing, Stortford will now be fearing for their lives.
Relegation Rating: 3/5
Like Stortford, another Essex-based side makes it onto this list with Concord Rangers the final team that I am tipping to scrap it out with four other teams in a bid to stay up. Concord have pulled themselves up and away from the relegation zone in recent weeks, with the side from Canvey Island having gained nine points out of their last available 24 to seemingly keep their heads above water for the time being. But with the bottom of the table being so tight, a few bad results and results going against them, could easily see Concord slide back into the drop zone.
Relegation Rating: 2/5
Teams that were talked about going down but pulling away
Three teams were battling relegation earlier in the season but have now pulled away and look set on keeping their National League South status. The first side is Weston-super-Mare, who seem to start every season as relegation favorites but always defy the odds. After four games, Weston were top of the pile but a run of eight successive defeats saw them slide into relegation and cost Head Coach Ryan Northmore his job with Scott Bartlett taking over the reins. With a complete squad overhaul and various players such as Clayton Fortune & Joe McClennan departing Somerset, Weston now seem set to survive as they sit fifth in the form table based on the last four games.
Another side that look to now have moved away from relegation talk is Welling United. Two consecutive relegations would have been disastrous for the London side, as they look to avoid the same fate as Hayes & Yeading. Welling have recently lost their manager Jamie Day and their Director Of Football Adrian Pennock to Gillingham and with top scorer Adam Coombes being courted by teams from higher divisions, Welling may still have a fight on their hands to avoid the dreaded drop.
The last side on this list is Truro City who have had New Zealand striker Rory Fallon playing in their ranks and have recently snapped up Tyler Harvey, who was recently released by Wrexham after a six-month spell in Wales. But with Truro having struggled to score goals and win games recently, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them get pulled back into the relegation fight in the not-so-distant future.
A Dark Horse
High flyers Poole Town, who sit narrowly outside the Playoff places, are in danger of being demoted due to their ground not meeting the league requirements. Therefore, Poole have been forced to try and raise £150,000 by the end of March so they can get their ground up to scratch and keep their National League South status. So, with Poole and Gosport both facing fears of being demoted and going out of business, two teams may be finding themselves lucky enough to earn a reprieve, something Weston-super-Mare, the only founding member of the league left, have got on three separate occasions!