With FC Halifax Town confirmed to play a third consecutive season in the Vanarama National League, let’s take a look at some of The Shaymen’s potential opponents next year.
With Havant & Waterlooville, Aldershot Town, Braintree Town and Maidstone United all relegated from the National League, there will be four aspiring teams replacing them from the Vanarama National League North and South, two from each league respectively.
So far, only Torquay United are confirmed as a promoted team. It wasn’t too long ago that The Gulls were in the League Two playoffs, but they’ve been on the slide ever since with last year’s relegation from the National League being the lowest point in their recent history. Despite their relegation, The Shaymen had two tough matches with Torquay as Town drew 1-1 at home and lost 1-0 away at Plainmoor.
Torquay have been the entertainers in the National League South scoring an impressive 88 goals in 39 league matches so far. Confirmed as champions last weekend, The Gulls are on an impressive seven game unbeaten run and with their remaining fixtures against strugglers Hungerford Town and playoff chasing St Albans City, that run looks set to continue.
Elsewhere in the National League South, Woking and Welling United have confirmed their places in the playoffs with eight other clubs looking to grasp the remaining four places.
Woking have had a good season with 75 points so far but they’ve tailed off towards the end of this year having failed to win in their last five matches. Following the expiration of James Ferry’s loan here at the MBi Shay Stadium, he signed with Woking on deadline day last month. A product of Brentford’s youth system, Ferry will certainly bolster Woking’s midfield as they now look to bounce back to the National League at the first attempt.
In 2017/18, The Shaymen went unbeaten against Woking drawing 0-0 at The Shay but winning 3-1 away at the Kingfield Stadium. A Matty Kosylo brace and a goal from Connor Thomson secured the three points for Town that day.
It’s still all to play for in the Vanarama National League North. Stockport County, Chorley and Brackley Town are all chasing automatic promotion while Spennymoor Town, Altrincham, Bradford Park Avenue, AFC Telford United, Blyth Spartans, Kidderminster Harriers and Chester are looking to secure a place in the playoffs.
Of the three clubs looking to win the league title, on paper, Stockport County have the easiest final two fixtures with struggling Curzon Ashton and already relegated Nuneaton Borough on the final day of the season. The Shaymen took on County in the opening pre-season match of this season but unfortunately, Town were defeated 2-1. However, there were a string of trialists in the team that day and a 90th minute Niall Maher header sent the Town fans home with something to cheer about.
The last time The Shaymen faced Chorley, 8,000 fans witnessed Town’s promotion from the National League North. Chorley face a tough visit from playoff pushing Bradford Park Avenue on the final day of the season. Park Avenue themselves will be hoping to do one better than last season and make it to the playoff final this year. Although their place in the playoffs isn’t mathematically confirmed, they are strong favourites to cement their place in the top seven in a weeks time.
Regardless of who gets promoted from the Vanarama National League North and South, we’ll be there supporting our boys in blue. Come on The Shaymen!
Read more posts by Will Hopper