Written by Thomas Thorn
As the Vanarama National League heads in to the penultimate month of the 2016/17 season, the relegation battle heats up.
Only seven points separate 22nd placed York and 17th placed Guiseley with realistically two places left for teams to be relegated. With North Ferriby (10 points adrift) and Southport (nine points adrift) occupying 24th and 23rd respectively it looks like they are already destined for relegation to the Vanarama National League North. However, for the other six teams it’s all about the fight for safety.
York currently occupy 22nd but are currently in the second best form (over five games) in league. At the end of January York fans may have feared the worst as they were bottom of the league having won only two in 22 including a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of Guiseley. With Tuesday’s 3-1 away win over Macclesfield, the Ministermen are now only four points from safety with a game in hand over 20th placed Torquay.
Woking dropped into the bottom four on Tuesday after Torquay ran out 1-0 winners away at Solihull Moors. The Cards were beaten in their ‘six pointer’ clash last weekend in a 4-2 thriller against fellow strugglers Maidstone. The Surrey side will be looking to their recently recalled striker Delano Sam-York to help them get out of trouble after the striker double against Maidstone and a goal against Braintree in their 3-1 away win. Their home game against York on the penultimate game of the season could be the decider.
Torquay moved out of the bottom four thanks to a late Dan Sparkes goal on Tuesday night in a 1-0 away win at Solihull. Whilst the Seagulls have been struggling all season with off the pitch issues, on the pitch hasn’t been much better. With all three of their final away games at promotion chasing teams, the Devon side will be looking for home comforts.
The form team at the moment in the league (over five games) are Maidstone having won 11 points out of 15 scoring 11 goals in the process. The Kent side are currently unbeaten in their last seven games, this run has culminated in them being three points clear or 21st placed Woking. The positive for the Stones is that they have two games in hand over Woking. The negative is that all of their remaining teams are against top half teams in the National League.
Braintree will be hoping they can build on their four point lead over Woking away at York on Saturday. The Essex side narrowly fell to defeat at the hands of Tranmere on Tuesday with Hakan Hayrettin saying that his side was unlucky not to get anything. The Iron have lost four of their last six games, they will be looking for their fortunes to turn as their play three fellow relegation battlers in their last six games.
Following Guiseley’s promotion to the National League last season they have had stand out results such as a 2-1 away win at Dagenham and Redbridge and a 6-1 home win against York. Guiseley will be looking for their second season in the National League and sit five points clear of Woking. The Lions will be looking to push further clear of the relegation zone as four out of their last six games are against teams in the bottom half of the league.
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