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Official News

New season preview
Posted by Andrew Dunn
Aug 13, 2018, 21:26

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The summer has seen plenty of reorganisation in non-league football. City are set to play a whole host of new teams over the season in the Evostik South Division One Central. So apart from the Lilywhites, what do we know about the rest of the teams in the division, and how they are shaping up for the campaign?

AFC Dunstable need no introduction to City fans. Like the Lilywhites, they made it through to the play-offs last season but were eliminated by Hartley Wintney at the semi-final stage. They will be eager to go better this year. With Ryan Frater at the back and Drew Roberts leading the forward line, they sure have plenty of quality. They open up on Saturday with a home game against Bromsgrove Sporting.

Aylesbury were one of the few teams to beat City at Westwood Road last year, but in the end finished one off the bottom of the table. They finished pre-season with a 4-0 defeat at Northwood and will look to players like former City striker Ryan Ware if they are going to improve on last season.

Like City, Aylesbury United continue to groundshare, and face another season as tenants to Chesham United. The Ducks played 10 matches in pre-season and were trounced 6-1 by FA Vase winners Thatcham in their last game. They have bought in Ollie Jones from title winning Beaconsfield and open up against Kempston on Saturday.

Barton Rovers will be the first team City travel to next midweek. A disappointing campaign saw them finish two off the bottom of the league last season. They will look to improve, and have an opening game against league new boys, Yaxley.

Bedford Town could be a team to watch after finishing the last season strong. Just five points separated them and City in the end. Former City players Lee Roache and Bradley Woods-Garness will be with the Eagles this term, and with former MK Dons midfielder Connor Furlong signing, they certainly look like a team who are well prepared going into the new season.

The first of the new clubs now, with Berkhamsted. The Comrades find themselves at this level after gaining promotion from the South Midlands League last season. They have been in competitive action already as they beat Tring Athletic in the FA Cup on Saturday. They open up with a game against fellow new boys, Peterborough Sports.

Games against City and Bromsgrove Rovers were regular features in the early 1990ís. However, Rovers were dissolved 9 years ago paving the way for Bromsgrove Sporting to be formed. They have progressively made their way from the second division of the Midland Combination and were promoted to the Southern League after winning the Premier Division of the Midland League. Traditionally well supported, The Rouslers could be a team in with a shout this season.

Runners-up to Bromsgrove were Coleshill Town. The Colemen are already out of the FA Cup after losing to Racing Club Warwick at the weekend. They have strengthened ahead of their Southern League challenge by signing Josh Webb from Rushall Olympic and Guy Clark from Bromsgrove Sporting. They start with a home game against Aylesbury.

Corby Town are the opponents for City on the opening day. The Steelmen have transferred over from the Northern Premier League Division One South where they finished 9th last season. Former City player Miles Smith is in the Corby Squad and the Northamptonshire outfit will be looking to make a big impact on their return to the Southern League.

Another team transferring over are Didcot Town. They were eliminated by Wimborne in the West Division play-offs last season, so look like a team who could be in the mix at the end of the campaign. They start off with a trip to Welwyn Garden City.

Dunstable Town had a terrible season in the Southern League top flight which inevitably ended in relegation. After such a poor season, they will be looking to hit the ground running and they have the incentive of early bragging rights when they face AFC Dunstable in an August Bank Holiday Monday clash.

Kempston Rovers pushed all the way for a play-off spot last year, and will be looking to do the same again this season. They will be looking to the likes of Josh Crawley to get goals for them, and the Walnuts start their campaign with an away match at Aylesbury United.

Oxfordshire based Kidlington have been transferred over from the West Division where they finished 12th last season. The summer signing of former Swindon striker Jamie Calvin will certainly be a boost to them as they seek a top half finish.

North Leigh had a difficult campaign in the West Division last season, and have been transferred over. The Oxfordshire based outfit finished off pre-season with a 3-0 defeat against Cinderford at the weekend, and face a difficult match at Dunstable Town to open up on Saturday.

Like Corby, Peterborough Sports transfer over from the Northern Premier League Division One South where they finished mid-table last season. Their pre-season programme has included a 4-0 win over Soham Town Rangers, and they will be a new team and a new local derby for City.

Sutton Coldfield Town and Cambridge City famously came together in the final of the Southern League Cup in 1999, which the midlands based outfit won. The Royals were relegated from the Premier Division of the Northern Premier League last season, so will be looking for an instant return and as a result, could be in contention for honours next May.

The opponents for Sutton Coldfield on Saturday are Thame United. They had a respectable season last year finishing in 11th spot and beat City on their own patch. They were thankful to Dan West for scoring 34 goals last year, and will be looking for more of the same if they are to build on their mid-table finish.

Welwyn Garden City won the South Midlands League last year and are getting ready to make their debut in the Southern League. Many of the players from the championship winning side have been retained, but it remains to be seen how they will rise to the challenge of Southern League football. They have a tough opening day fixture at home to Didcot.

The Cuckoos of Yaxley safely navigated their way past Swaffham in the FA Cup on Saturday and make their Southern League debut after winning the United Counties League last season. Like Welwyn, time will tell how they get on but after scoring 135 goals last season they certainly arrive in the Southern League full of confidence.

Finally, it would be wrong not to mention City. After their play-off heartbreak, the Lilywhites will be looking to go one better this term. Pre-season form hasnít been particularly inspiring but the real thing starts on Saturday with a match against Corby. It will be interesting to see if the goal scoring form of Ryan Sharman continues where it left off and with the new signings of Liam Gooch, Jack Wilkinson, Lewis Whitehead and Joe Robinson boss Robbie Nightingale has strengthened and City fans will be hopeful that it might be enough to see them have another successful season and be among those challenging for honours come May.

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