2023/24 Vanarama National League Preview

As we enter fixture release day for the 2023/24 National League season, we turn our attentions to the upcoming campaign with a focus on the teams that we’ll be facing.

This year will see the Minstermen take on six new clubs, following club’s relegation from the Football League and promotion from the National League North and South last season.

As always, there will be six new clubs in the National League, following relegations from the Football League and promotions from National League North and South.

Rochdale will look to bounce back to the EFL at the first attempt after their 102-year stay in the league came to an end. Under the guidance of new manager Jim McNulty, who has just retired from playing duties, they’ll target an immediate return to the Football League.

Fellow relegated club Hartlepool United will also be looking to bounce back at the first time of asking under former York City manager John Askey. They were most recently in the National League in 2020/21, but their two-year spell back in the Football League came to an end last season.

National League North champions AFC Fylde will be hoping for a promising first season back in Non-League’s top-tier under the stewardship of Adam Murray. Fylde previously spent three seasons in the National League between 2017 and 2020 and qualified for the play-offs in two of those seasons. Nick Haughton will be the man to watch out for having recently signed a new two-year deal with the club. He’s developed an eye for goal from midfield over the last three seasons, having netted 69 goals in 112 appearances for the club.

Kidderminster Harriers returned to the National League in May after beating Brackley Town in the National League North play-off final, which ended their eight-year stay in the sixth tier. The full-time outfit managed by former York City captain Russell Penn will look to build on last season’s success and consolidate in the new division.

Ebbsfleet United are another side who return to the National League for 2023/24 having won the South title last season. Dennis Kutrieb’s side achieved an impressive 103 points along the way. Forward Dominic Poleon, previously of Leeds United and Sheffield United, will be their player to watch, having netted an impressive 36 goals in the National League South last year.

A newly promoted side who will taste National League football for the first time in their history are Oxford City. Ross Jenkins’ side have slowly worked their way up the footballing pyramid, having become Southern Football League playoff final winners as recent as 2012. They most recently won the National League South play-offs, beating St Albans 4-0 at home in the final.

Last season’s beaten National League play-off finalists Chesterfield will be looking to go one better this season, after they fell to a penalty shootout defeat to Notts County at Wembley Stadium in May. Paul Cook will be looking to rebuild his side following the departure of goalkeeper Ross Fitzsimons (Scunthorpe United) and loanee strikers Andrew Dallas and Paul McCallum. The Spireites captured the impressive signature of Will Grigg, twice a Team of the Year entry in League One and once the league’s Player of the Year, as part of the rebuilding work.

Bromley ended last season with play-off semi-final heartbreak, but they equalled their highest-ever finish last season, qualifying for only the second time in their history. The Minstermen did the double over The Ravens last season, so Mikey Morton’s side will be hoping to repeat that feat over Andy Woodman’s men.

Barnet also finished in the play-off positions last season, and also were on the wrong end of a league double by the Minstermen. Dean Brennan will be hoping to guide his Bees side back into the top seven once again with the likes of Nicke Kabamba up front, who netted 19 league goals in 2022/23.

In their first-ever campaign as a professional outfit, Phil Parkinson’s Altrincham secured a 17th placed finish last season, as well as reaching the Isuzu FA Trophy semi-finals. There is scope to build on last season, but they will need to recruit well having lost the likes of Jordan Hulme (Radcliffe Borough). Regan Linney will aim to take the mantle, he ended the last season in good form following his arrival from FC United of Manchester.

Oldham Athletic ended their first campaign in non-League football with a mid-table finish, having won four of their final six league games. They are expected to go strong next season under David Unsworth’s management as they aim for a return to the EFL, with the former Premier League side bringing in the likes of Josh Lundstram (Altrincham) and former York City striker Kurt Willoughby (Chester FC) this summer.

Last season’s Isuzu FA Trophy winners FC Halifax Town ended last season on a ten-match unbeaten run in all competitions and did well to pick themselves off the foot of the National League table, after spending the first two months in the relegation zone. The departures of key trio Kian Spence (Barrow), Harvey Gilmour (Rochdale) and Jack Senior (Doncaster Rovers) will be big losses for Chris Millington’s Shaymen.

Boreham Wood had another really good campaign in 2022/23, finishing inside of the National League play-offs and reaching the 5th Round of the Emirates FA Cup, where they were beaten at Goodison Park by Premier League side Everton. People will expect Luke Garrard’s side to be up near the top-end of the table once again, but they will have to recruit well to replace the outgoing Will Evans (Scunthorpe United), Danny Newton (Brackley Town) and Dennon Lewis (Woking).

Aldershot Town are currently the longest-serving team in the National League, having spent the last ten seasons in the top-tier of non-League. Tommy Widdrington was brought into the club as manager at the start of April, who oversaw the club secure safety in the National League for another season. He remains unbeaten as manager so far, and he’ll look for his team to build on last season having retained twelve of the squad.

Dorking Wanderers’ first-ever season in the National League saw them finish in 16th position, six points above the Minstermen. James McShane and Ryan Seagar became two prominent figures in the Wanderers’ attack last season, netting 30 league goals between them, and they’ll be hoping that they can once again fire Marc White’s side to a mid-table finish.

Eastleigh finished in the top-half last season, but a run of seven games without a win at the back end of the campaign saw the South Coast side fall out of the play-off positions. The signing of striker Paul McCallum, who ended last season on loan at Chesterfield, might give Lee Bradbury’s Spitfires the cutting edge that they lacked up front.

Like Eastleigh, Dagenham and Redbridge will also look to build on their mid-table finish last season, having missed out on a play-off spot by eight points. Ben Strevens’ side have been bolstered with the likes of midfielder Josh Rees (Boreham Wood) and forward Ryan Hill (Eastleigh) so far this summer.

An impressive campaign saw Woking secure a 4th place finish in the league, before they went on to be knocked out by Boreham Wood in the play-off eliminator. Darren Sarll will hope the addition of Dagenham & Redbridge midfielder Matt Robinson will add extra competition in the middle of the pitch, as will the addition of forward Dennon Lewis, with the ex-Love Island contestant joining from Boreham Wood.

After what some may consider a poor season by their standards last season, Solihull Moors will hope to get back to more prominent form which saw them secure a place in the 2021/22 National League play-off final. They have so far made some exciting signings this summer, following the arrivals of left-back Joe Newton (Havant and Waterlooville), midfielder Matty Warburton (FC Halifax Town) and striker Connor Hall (Chorley).

After only finishing one place and two points above the relegation zone last season, Maidenhead United will be hoping for a less tense campaign this time out. Alan Devonshire has made some promising signings so far this summer, following the arrivals of goalkeeper Craig Ross (Woking), defender Lewis Kinsella (Wealdstone) and forward Harry Parsons (Swindon Town).

After securing their highest finish in 37 years last season, Wealdstone will once again look to impress in the National League. Stuart Maynard has retained a total of fifteen players from last season, and with a few further additions, they will hope for another campaign competing in the top half.

Beaten Isuzu FA Trophy finalists Gateshead had a fine end to the 2022/23 campaign, having moved out of the relegation zone to secure a comfortable 14th place finish. This coming season is expected to be even better for Mike Williamson’s side, who has already strengthened his squad with the additions of midfielder Regan Booty (Maidstone United) and forward Aiden Rutledge (Birtley Town), with the latter netting 61 goals last season in Northern League Division Two.

Finally, Southend United were unfortunate to miss out on the play-offs last season, finishing in eighth place, two points behind Bromley under Kevin Maher’s management. Following a series of recent off-field problems at Roots Hall, the club have so far been unable to bring in any new signings, but they recently lost forward Rhys Murphy who has dropped down to the National League South to join recently relegated Yeovil Town.