Ahead of an interesting season coming up whenever this might be due to COVID-19, we look at some of the non-league teams, we here at “Off the post” think you should be keeping an eye on.
Ashford Town (Middlesex)
After finishing 17thin the 2019-2020 season, Ashford town will be looking to improve this season in a very hard division. They have appointed up and coming manager Luke Tuffs previously of Knaphill and Hartley Whitney. Luke comes with an impressive record at the Step 4 and 5, so will be hoping to bring some magic to Ashford after a few year’s of disappointment. Ashford should be planning for a top-half finish next season in our mind. There is no news yet on any player signings for Ashford Town, but i’d imagine a few of his star players at Knaphill will make the move.
For this side, the first time back at the top of the non-league pyramid for over 30 years, how will they fair against a mostly full time division? Several sides have worked well as a part time outfit in this division, like Braintree under Danny Cowley. With crowds over 1200 last season, this will surely rise once any COVID-19 restrictions are listed. Plus if Barnet fail to get promoted a first derby in 3 decades for these arch rivals. Can Dean Brennan keep the team together that lead the stones to glory or will he bring in experienced players at this level to help them survive the drop? So far this summer he has bought in 3 players including Dan Wishart a player that could have been seen in Wealdstone colours over 10 years ago if previous boss Gordon Bartlett has managed to secure his signature. Wishart has played in League 2 and the conference in previous years so will bring some experience to the team. Alongside Wishart, Brennan secured the signings of Charlee Hughes and Danny Parish who has scored nearly 60 goals between them in the 2019-2020 season. As long as the Stones can avoid relegation it gives them something to build on for the upcoming seasons, but it will be tough as Maidenhead have found out.
In what we believe will be one of the hardest divisions in non-league football next season, can Hanwell build on the success of the past season, being in 2nd position when the season was halted in March. Hanwell will be targeting another shot at promotion to Step 3 for the first time ever as long as they can keep hold of their better players such as Ogi Obi. This a club that has risen slowly but sensibly through the divisions and has invested a lot in recent years in the pitch and the surroundings to bring it up to a more impressive level.
When the season ended in March, Bracknell Town were sitting just outside of the play-off places. The club had 3 managers during the past season, but handed ex-Wealdstone and Hungeford manager Bobby Wilkinson a 5 year contract at the end of 2019. Bobby Wilkinson has an impressive promotion record and will be surely looking at strengthening his team ahead of a promotion campaign. The club are making investment off the pitch as well with work on community pitches along with looking for a new site for the 1st team to play in. So far in the off-season Wilkinson has signed Perry Coles who will no doubt be one of the top strikers in the division next season.
This one might not be a surprise, with the team sitting 2nd in the Essex Senior League prior to the season being voided in April. The club was only founded in 2016, after previously having played in friendlies and tournaments. After winning the title in there 1st season, they might have possibly got promoted this season if it had not been for COVID-19! With their backing thanks to owner Spencer Owen’s YouTube and media career, they no doubt will be within with a shout next season alongside another side we will mention later.
After having been appointed Hendon manager in November 2019, Lee Allinson spent the rest of the season putting a very competitive side out and managed to stear the club to 14th before the season ended in March. At the time of writing, 6 players had re-signed for next season. He has some impressive players in the squad such as Johnathon North,Eddie Oshodi ,Keiron Forbes and Joe White who have all played at a higher level. With the latter Joe White, if he can not get injured and get the right service, there is no reason why he shouldn’t get the golden boot next season. Allinson has also managed to sign Dwade James from Walthamstow who has scored 80 goals in the past 2 seasons at Step 5.
We would expect Hendon to be in the shout for the title/playoffs next season with the impressive squad being assembled by Lee and i am sure more will come over the summer months.