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The NLP’s Picks for the Weekend

Editor Alex Narey says…

Dartford v Bath City

A month ago, the National South title race looked to be a two-horse race with Torquay United and Woking seemingly a class above the rest. But during the cold snap of January, the chasing pack have sensed a weakness with Woking, in particular, stuttering under the congestion of post-Christmas fixtures. It would take a brave man to still bet against Alan Dowson’s side but while Gary Johnson’s Torquay United looked like they have a few more gears to find, the Cards must get their challenge back on track  if they are to fend off the challenge from below.

Two sides that are compiling worthy CVs for a promotion push are Dartford and Bath City, the latter sending the ultimate statement three weeks ago with victory over Torquay, the former claiming all three points at Kingfield on Tuesday night against the nine men of Woking.

Dartford, many people’s top for the title in pre-season, have taken time to settle since the departure of Tony Burman in the summer but now under Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle appear to be finding their groove just at the right time. Bath have looked the business for some time, and have proved resilient on their travels.

It could prove beyond either club to snatch the title from Torquay’s grasp, but they will both certainly have a strong say on who goes up to the National League, both automatically and in the play-offs.

 

New editor Jon Couch says…

Ebbsfleet United v Solihull Moors

THE dark horses have now become serious title challengers, but ambitious Solihull Moors have an awkward hurdle to negotiate when they make the trip to much-improved Ebbsfleet United tomorrow.

Third in the National League table, three points off leaders Leyton Orient, Moors have flourished under rookie boss Tim Flowers and this week strengthened their squad further with the addition of experienced full-back Lee Vaughan from Kidderminster.

But their run of just one defeat from their last eight games in all competitions comes under serious threat from Garry Hill’s Ebbsfleet, who are launching a staunch play-off bid of their own despite off-the-field uncertainty at Stonebridge Road.

A solitary-goal defeat at Sutton a fortnight ago ended a run of 13 points from a possible 15 for the Fleet, who have already taken points off the top two this season.

Flowers goes into the match as Vanarama National League Manager of the Month, if he can avoid the dreaded curse with victory here then his side will have to be seen as serious title contenders.

 

Staff writer Hugo Varley

Farsley Celtic v Nantwich Town

Nantwich Town travel to Farsley Celtic tomorrow in what is a crucial clash in the race for the Northern Premier League title, with the two currently just three points adrift of league leaders Warrington Town.

Both sides will come into the game at Throstle Nest with fresh legs having had games postponed last weekend so a high temp match is to be expected.

Dave Cook’s Nantwich side finally got their first win of 2019 two weekends ago as they edged to a narrow 1-0 win at Matlock Town.

It will also be fascinating to see how new signing, 39-year-old former Stoke City legend Ricardo Fuller, settles into life at Step 3 level, after spending a number of years out of the game.

Farsley Celitc were themselves on a rather unconvincing run of form until Adam Lakeland’s side ended a sequence of three games without victory with a stunning 3-1 win at fellow promotion chasers Scarborough Athletic.

With both sides desperate to keep pace with the title race, tomorrow’s game promises to be an enthralling affair.

 

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