Category Archives: Conference

Its Oxford…

Oxford United booked a return to League 2 beating York City 3-1 at Wembley this afternoon.

From a Dons perspective this is probably the better outcome, Oxford are light years ahead of us in terms of budget, and probably will be for years to come regardless of rumours of budget cuts that may or may not have happened had Oxford stayed in the BSP. Although for us the move to professional football is going to require a settling in period which may not make us immediate serious challengers, and we still face the strong challenge of sides like York, Rushden and of course Luton, Oxford’s promotion removes an obstacle that may have halted our progress over the next couple of years, or at very least created an obstacle for a team above that then become our obstacle, like being the second behind a broken down tube train on the hottest day of the year if you see where I’m coming from…

In terms of favourites next year, well I suppose Luton must stand out as favourites, although they won’t have it all their own way next term as I’m sure the other play-off failures Rushden and York will be challenging, along with sides like Cambridge, Mansfield and Wrexham who will be bitterly disappointed with their showing last year. Of course its possible budgeting and funding aspects may play a part, but in terms of promotion contenders I wouldn’t look outside those teams.

In my opinion the Dons will be in a second group, although will improve as the season goes – a contrast with this seasons part-time drop off when we seemed to be in a great position. Whether this will be enough for a play-off place I’m not sure, if the group of teams I mentioned don’t run away with it, or enough of them are off the pace, maybe we can clinch a berth. This is ignoring real wildcards such as Newport or Grimsby – logic suggest they won’t play a part in the promotion race, but you never can tell…

Either way, the full BSP lineup has now been confirmed, and we can now look forward to the publication of the fixtures in June.

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Final Promotion Places From The Regional Divisions Decided

Bath City and Fleetwood Town become the 22nd and 23rd sides to confirm their places in next years Conference Nation, after a couple of tight play-off finals in front of huge crowds were decided by a single goal this afternoon.

In the North, big spending Fleetwood overcame Alfreton 2-1 thanks to a goal in the 78th minute in front of 3592 at a packed Highbury (Fleetwood version, not North London posh peoples conversion flats of course…). Dons fans can look forward to packing their buckets and spades as Fleetwood is just a few miles north of Blackpool and a favourable early/late season Saturday fixture could be combined with a weekend at the seaside with a tramride up to Fleetwood in the afternoon to take in the game. Fleetwood Town FC actually have a pretty interesting history, and hopefully I’ll get a chance to touch upon that later in the week.

Bath City overcame Woking in the Southern Final 1-0 in front of over four thousand at Twerton Park, including an apparent 1800 travelling supporters. Sadly our ‘friends’ from further down the South West mainline have at least another season in the BSS to look forward to, reducing their dreams of meeting the mighty AFC Wimbledon in a League fixture still further. Like Fleetwood, Bath will be an enjoyable trip, one we have made twice before, a late Alan Inns goal salvaging a point in a 2-2 draw in August ’08, before a December visit to then-tenants Team Bath saw Wimbledon take the points with a 2-1 victory.

Which means the current lineup for next season is as follows;

AFC Wimbledon

Altrincham

Barrow

Bath City

Cambridge United

Crawley Town

Darlington

Eastbourne Borough

Fleetwood Town

Gateshead

Grimsby Town

Hayes and Yeading

Histon

Kettering Town

Kidderminster Harriers

Luton Town

Mansfield Town

Newport County

Rushden & Diamonds

Salisbury City

Southport

Tamworth

Wrexham

The defeated side in the Conference Play-Off Final between Oxford United and York City.

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New Arrivals

The last day of the League 2 season brings confirmation of two new teams joining us down in the Conference National. While we knew we had a trip to the Darlington Arena lined up for next term, today the final day showdown involving Grimsby and Barnet went the way of the Hertfordshire side – which was written in stone from the moment Grimsby fans invaded the pitch last week at the end of the big showdown between the two, taunting the Barnet fans… presumably those Grimsby fans who pray at the altar of the Football Gods were tearing their hair out.

And sure enough they fell apart at the Pirelli Stadium this afternoon, a 0-3 defeat that its fair to say a small minority of the visiting supporters took with all the good grace of a Luton Town fan that had money on Esther Rantzen making it to Parliament. Much as Grimsby may bring a larger support into the division than Stevenage Borough had, I doubt they will be challenging at the right end of the table next term. With the Dons and even last day survivors Gateshead turning pro for next season, just being professional doesn’t automatically give the advantage it did even a few years ago, and I would imagine the Mariners will look to rebuild next term.

As for Darlington, well their crowds have shrunk to almost BSN levels as the inevitability of demotion has struck, and you have to question the logic of them even remaining full-time while stuck at a white elephant stadium miles out-of-town. After this image was featured over on Pitch Invasion earlier in the week, you wonder about the practicalities of bringing the team back into town, and maybe that will be the Quakers only hope of a return to the Football League with no scope for development at the Arena to bring in extra income.

Another two clubs will be added to the line-up tomorrow, this time coming up rather than going down. Fleetwood and Alfreton face off in the BSN play-off final, while Bath City and Woking are paired off in the South division.

Meanwhile, at Wembley Stadium, Barrow came from behind to defeat Champions Stevenage. Andy Drury put Boro ahead on ten minutes before the holders were reduced to ten men after David Bridges attempted to remove Andy Bond’s genetalia with his studs. Barrow finally made the extra man count with ten minutes left as Lee McEvilly planted a header into the bottom corner to level things up. It looked as though the sides would play out extra time with ten men apiece when Robin Hubbert clumsy attempt to remove Charlie Griffins head was spotted by the keen eyed referee, but unfortunately for Boro, who had used all three subs already, a broken Griffin wasn’t much use for them in the extra period on behalf of being immobile in an ambulance at the time. Finally Jason Walker buried a right foot drive just inside the far post to hand Barrow their second Trophy victory.

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It’s Oxford Or York For L2

Luton and Rushden & Franchise have the dubious pleasure of a visit to Kingsmeadow next term after defeats to York and Oxford respectively. A pair of 1-0 victories were enough for York to progress after what sounded like a gritty and defensive performance this afternoon at Kenilworth Road. They will face Oxford who eventually eased past R&F 3-1 on aggregate.

The final takes place at Wembley on Sunday 16th May, KO 5pm. The match will be shown live on Sky Sports.

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