Vanarama National League Review Of The Season: Part Three

By Sam Elliott

It was a season like no other and in the final of our three-part season review, Tom Scott looks at the all important climax to a fantastic campaign.

April

People predicted it would come and Sutton’s string of draws looked to be the start of a slide. The U’s opening the door for Hartlepool who clambered to the summit.

But Torquay would drag themselves from the mire, dropping just two points from their seven games. Stockport County threw down the gauntlet after roaring back into contention under new boss Simon Rusk.

The Hatters made light work of April, finishing strongly with big wins over Boreham Wood and King’s Lynn slipping them to within five points of the top.

Notts County’s form went from bad to worse. Ian Burchnall had his work cut-out after ending April winless in five games.

Dagenham & Redbridge started the month with three defeats. But a U-turn in their form had them dreaming of what had seemed so unlikely before. Could they grab a spot in the top seven?

At the other end, former AFC Wimbledon pair Simon Bassey and Dave Anderson were in to resuscitate Barnet’s form. The Bees didn’t have to wait long before they picked up just their second win of 2021 against Aldershot.

FC Halifax boss Pete Wild was liking the view from his seat in the stands.

The Shaymen picked up big wins in April but defeats to promotion rivals Wrexham and Bromley threatened to derail their push.

May

Sutton United stood their ground to clinch the title for the first time in their 123-year history.

Matt Gray’s side sealed their place in the EFL for next season live on BT Sport against Hartlepool.

The manager said: “It’s incredible, it’s history for this football club.

“We hoped to play a part in the play-offs this season so to do this is more than what we could have dreamed of.”

Solihull Moors were going well under and were threatening to gate-crash the play-off party.

After starting the month with defeat at Wrexham, the Yates’ men dropped only two points in their final seven games, but they needed a favour from elsewhere, something they didn’t get.

Five clubs were still in with a shout with a play-off place going into the final day. Torquay, Stockport County, Hartlepool and Notts County were there before the start of the day.

They would be joined by Chesterfield, who rallied at FC Halifax while Wrexham’s failure to win at Dagenham & Redbridge opened the door for Bromley, the Ravens claiming their place in the top seven with a win over Notts County.

With a monumental season in prospect for Wrexham, the Dragons’ new owners decided Dean Keates would not be the man to lead them into their new era.

After another year in division was confirmed, Keates departed.

June:

For the first time, the National League season ran into June - and it was a magical month for Hartlepool United.

They returned to the EFL after winning the Promotion Final against Torquay United at Ashton Gate.

They got there by defeating Bromley, and then stunning Stockport County at Edgeley Park.

Manager Dave Challinor says the fans helped fire his team up.

“From my perspective and from our perspective as a club, we don’t need telling what it means to supporters,” he said.

“I’ve said it before, they’ve been part of some disappointing times over the last, more than few, years. We know the importance of the football club and the team to the people of the town.

“We know where we are and what the supporters are craving. Hopefully we can provide that for them.”

Where next?

John-Lewis Aims To Be A High End National League Performer Nobody likes the feeling of missing out on a great party.
Coulson Comes Back Hunting More National League Honours They’ve not seen their team play for the best part of 16 months, but you could understand if some Southend United fans still aren’t exactly in a huge hurry to get back at it.

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