Non League Daily

Bees set for Conference day of destiny

A 46 game Conference season includes over 4000 minutes of playing time, but this weekend will come down to a 90-minute test of Barnet's mettle writes NLD writer Alan Alger

A win at home to Gateshead will secure the Bees automatic promotion.

The Heed look like ideal opposition for Martin Allen's men. Sitting tenth in the table with no higher than eighth place in reach, they also have boss Gary Mills eyeing up a potential move to Wrexham.

Mills took his side to the Promotion Final last year, but this campaign hasn't gone to plan. Losing key players before Christmas. They've also won just one of 17 matches against sides ahead of them in the table. They arrive at the Hive with just one win in their last eight league matches.

It by no means points to an easy match for Barnet - there's no such thing in this league - but in relative terms you'd do well to find a better fixture in which to secure a title. BT Sport will be showing all of the action from North London with additional cameras at Bristol Rovers. Relegation threatened Alfreton Town are the visitors to the Memorial Stadium as they fight for their place in Non-League's top-flight.

Rovers have the best home record in the league - including a 100% record hosting sides in the bottom half of the table. A win for Darrell Clarke's men coupled with Barnet failing to beat Gateshead will send the title to BS7.

Logistically it will present a problem to the league and their sponsors. Final day title shoot-outs occurred in 2013 and 2009 with replacement trophies and presentation parties going unused at Kidderminster and Cambridge respectively.

Both times the real trophy was in the right place, with Burton lifting theirs in front of the away section at Torquay (2008) and Mansfield celebrating at Field Mill (2013). It's interesting to note that the two most recent sides to lose the title on the final day did not recover to win the play-offs.


Bromley made up for the disappointment of being pipped by Eastleigh 12-months ago by securing the Conference South title at home to Weston-super-Mare last weekend. They will take their place in the new National League next season under boss Mark Goldberg.

His Ravens team have had an odd season in which their away from carried them over the line. At home they only performed sixth best and lost in six of their nine matches against top-half sides. Contrast that with just one defeat on the road and it points to a side that might endure a relegation fight at Hayes Lane next season.

Historically it's always been hard for sides going up from the South section to establish a firm footing in the top league. Eastleigh have managed to push for the play-offs this season and AFC Wimbledon eventually gained another promotion - but those two are exceptions to a rule which will see Dartford and possibly Welling go back down a level at the end of this term.

It was revealed that Bromley will opt for an artificial surface at their ground for the 2015/16 season, which will be the highest placed use of such a facility in the pyramid. Could that improve their home fortunes?

Article: Alan Alger

Photo: Action Images

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