Vanarama's National League South Fan Preview: Chelmsford City

Darren Smith puts his neck on the line - the weekend can’t come soon enough as football finally returns!

League sponsors Vanarama have been getting the fans’ perspective ahead of the new season - which kicks off this Saturday

The new season is nearly upon us - what have Chelmsford fans got to look forward to?
Hopefully promotion! Along with some exciting football on the pitch, I think the fans are looking forward to the completion of the long-awaited takeover of the club, which will hopefully bring stability and the opportunity to push the club forward.

It seems getting over play-off heartache is part of the job spec for Clarets fans in recent years - from what you’ve seen so far, can the team finally cross that line this season?
I think Rod Stringer has put together another good squad this year, which should hopefully be able push for the top again. He’s added some pace to the team, including at the top end of the pitch, which I think we’ve lacked at times previously. The midfield looks to be our main strength, with real quality in there with likes of Billy Knott and Ollie Muldoon.

Rod has had to rebuild his forward line this summer. Can the goals continue to flow without Rhys Murphy and Scott Fenwick?
I hope so. Those two will be a big loss, but we’ve brought in proven goalscorers at this level in Shaun Jeffers and Sam Higgins, both returning for second spells at the club, along with Jamaican international Jamar Loza. I think they all have different strengths, which complement each other. So hopefully we’ll be able to score plenty of goals.

What’s been the best bit of business done over the past few months?
I’m pretty happy with all those retained and signed so far but I think the one that has pleased me the most is the signing of goalkeeper Carl Pentney from Maidenhead. We cycled through a few goalkeepers last season and I feel that it’s really important to have a solid and reliable keeper in order to succeed. I think we’ve now got that.

Who will be your one to watch come August 3?
It looks like we’ll have a really exciting side this year so it’s tough to pick just one player but I’ll go for Billy Knott. He has Football League quality and will hopefully be providing plenty of service to the strikers. An honourable mention too for lively young forward Andy Fennell, who has really impressed in pre-season. I’m interested to see if he can step up and contribute this season.

Who are the other sides to watch out for and could be in the promotion mix?
I think Havant & Waterlooville are my favourites to win it. Paul Doswell is an experienced manager and he has put together a strong-looking squad. I think a majority of the division will be hoping to be in the mix for promotion. You have Maidstone coming down, some strong teams coming up and also the teams who were up there challenging last season. I’m particularly interested to see how Billericay and Hemel Hempstead fare, as they both look to have made a big push for this season.

But who will be this season’s surprise package?
I think Hemel Hempstead will make a big jump from last season, with Sammy Moore looking to replicate his strong season at Concord, bringing in key players from that squad. A team coming up usually thrive, and Dorking will be hoping to continue their rapid rise up the leagues and Dulwich Hamlet may also do well.

What ground are you most looking forward to visiting and why?
I was probably most looking forward to visiting Aldershot, before their reprieve, so I will say Dartford. We’ve had some great results down there over the last few years and it’s always enjoyable if you can get a victory against your old rivals on their home patch.

And what game would you like to win more than any other and why!
I assume we’re excluding the play-off final? I will go for the cliched answer and say the local derby against Braintree Town, for obvious reasons. They are always feisty games and I’m sure this season will be no different. Hopefully we’ll beat them.

What opposition player would you most like to see in your side - and what makes him so good?
I’m happy with the strikers we have but I would have loved us to sign Alex Wall from Concord Rangers. He was excellent in our two games against them last season, offering strength, pace and quality finishing. I expect him to again be high in the top scorers chart at Hemel Hempstead this season.

Finally, the key question - where do you predict your team will finish next season?
It’s a difficult one. I’m confident that, all being well, Rod will have us up there in the mix for promotion again. It does look a very tough division again though, so in terms of predictions I’ll just say that we’ll make the play-offs and hopefully this time we’ll succeed!

Vanarama have recently launched the National League Club Reward scheme to help fans back their club’s budget. Every time a fan takes out a brand new van lease with Vanarama or a brand new car lease with Motorama their club will earn £100 and you will receive £30 cashback.

For the latest van leasing deals head to Vanarama.
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Where next?

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