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The NLP’s Picks for the Weekend!

Senior writer Matt Badcock says…

Richard Money takes charge of his first Hartlepool United game in the National League looking to get points on the board as quickly as possible.

His opening Pools game saw his side navigate past a tricky tie away at Leamington in the FA Trophy but the man they call Dickie Dosh knows the league is where they really need to make a mark.

Pools are eight points outside the play-offs and the former Luton Town and Cambridge United boss is keen for a productive festive period to put them in the picture.

In the other dug-out is Havant & Waterlooville manager Lee Bradbury, who was interviewed by Hartlepool for the vacancy Money ended up fulfilling.

Bradbury’s managerial stock is on the rise following the back-to-back title wins that catapulted the Hawks into Non-League’s top flight for the first time in their history.

Some good recent form, aided by the goals of Alfie Rutherford, has lifted them away from the bottom of the table and Bradbury will be keen for his side to keep their foot to the floor during this busy period.

A win for either side will make Christmas dinner taste even better.

Online editor David Richardson says…

The big game at Step 2 is undoubtedly the second vs third clash in National League South today when Billericay Town host Woking.

In two week’s time the visitors will play one of the biggest games in their history against Watford in the FA Cup third round, but manager Alan Dowson is making sure his side have full focus on a busy league schedule across Christmas and New Year. He added to his squad today, bringing in young Barnet defender HarryTaylor.

A midweek defeat at Maidstone after extra time in an FA Trophy first round replay was Woking’s first defeat in nine games and in the league they’ve won four of their last five.

They currently sit two points behind leaders Torquay, who travel to Hampton, with two games in hand and one point behind Billericay.

Dean Brennan’s side were also knocked out of the FA Trophy in the first round last Saturday meaning in theory they should be the fresher of the two sides.

Ricay had two good away wins last week at Eastbourne and then Bath on the back of being winless in their last three. The club is going through a period of change which hasn’t helped their cause on the field with a number of player exits, but can they keep this mini run of form going?

Staff writer Hugo Varley says…

Down in Step 3, Northern Premier League table toppers Nantwich Town will be desperate to avoid an early Christmas collapse when they entertain Martin Carruthers’ Basford United side.

The Dabbers have surprised everyone to take Step 3 by storm this season, following a lowly 16th place finish during the last campaign.

David Cooke’s side will come into Saturday’s encounter on a remarkable run of form, having fallen to defeat just once in their past 18 league games.

This incredible sequence of results has seen the Cheshire club open up a six point gap over previous early season pace setters Scarborough Athletic.

Saturday’s visitors to the Weaver Stadium have themselves also had a decent start to the campaign, following promotion from Step 4 last summer.

Basford are currently sitting just outside the play-off positions and have previously picked up impressive results on the road against the likes of Bamber Bridge and Marine.

A 5-1 defeat at the hands of National League side Chesterfield in the FA Trophy last weekend is unlikely to dent the Nottingham club’s confidence too much and they will once again find themselves coming into a fixture with very little to lose.

You never know, the newly promoted side could spring a surprise…stranger things have certainly happened before!

 

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