As the year comes to a close, the halfway point of the 2021/22 National League season is also amongst us, making this the perfect time to grade each and every club’s campaign so far.

By Amos Murphy

National League 2022

Aldershot Town

An atrocious start to the campaign had Aldershot Town scratching around the bottom of the division, with the Hampshire-based club losing their first five consecutive matches, whilst winning only one of their opening nine.

Such poor form saw Danny Searle lose his job, before being replaced by Mark Molesley, who has since overseen an upturn in results, with the Shots ending the year in fantastic fashion.

Survival will be the main objective for Molesley and co. when 2022 rolls around, but if they are able to build on recent form, an unlikely push for the playoffs may not be out of the question.

Half-season grade: C

Altrincham

One of the early-season overachievers, Altrincham kicked off the 2021/22 campaign in blistering form, before tailing off as the winter months began to set in.

Occupying a playoff berth up until mid-October, Phil Parkinson’s side were dreaming of a top-seven finish, but a recent winless streak to finish off the year has seen the Robins slip out of contention.

Altrincham celebrate Chesterfield

Altrincham players celebrate their point against Chesterfield - Credit: Altrincham FC / Jonathan Moore (@Altymoore1

Conceding goals has been an issue for Altrincham, with only four teams in the National League having shipped more – a problem Parkinson will have to arrest if his side are to have a successful 2022.

Half-season grade: C+

Barnet

Another side who started the season in woeful fashion, Barnet were forced to wait until mid-September for their first win of the campaign, having gone seven matches without a victory.

Harry Kewell’s winless start saw the former Liverpool striker relieved of his duties, with Dean Brennan taking charge and transforming the club’s fortunes.

Whilst Director of Football may be his official title, the interim boss has overseen 12 matches, winning seven, drawing two and losing just three matches in the dugout.

Half-season grade: B-

Boreham Wood

One of the division’s standout performers so far this season, Boreham Wood will begin 2022 chasing a maiden promotion to the Football League, with a winnable FA Cup Fourth Round tie at home against AFC Wimbledon.

A series of end-of-year postponements has halted the Wood’s progress slightly, but Luke Garrard’s side will begin 2022 optimistic of mounting a title challenge.

Having lost star striker Kabongo Tshimanga in the summer, Boreham Wood have done well to maintain the pressure on the top, given the resources of some of the sides around them.

Half-season grade: A

Bromley

At the midway point of the campaign, Bromley will look back on the 2021/22 season so far with pleasure, but should also be aware of the task that lies ahead.

A constant in the playoff picture since the opening day of the season, a top-seven finish had looked a formality for Andy Woodman’s side, before a recent run of shaky results has derailed the Ravens slightly.

Andy Woodman Stockport Hartlepool Bromley

Andy Woodman after the 1-1 draw with Stockport County - Credit: Bromley Football Club

Still, they remain one of the favourites to secure a playoff spot when the season comes to a close, with hopes of a Football League berth next year in the minds of all at Hayes Lane.

Half-season grade: A-

Chesterfield

Pace-setters for much of the campaign, current leaders Chesterfield will only have one target when the league resumes in 2022: automatic promotion.

This season hasn’t been without its problems for the Spireites, who had to dodge a pretty damaging injury crisis in mid-October, whilst battling on a number of fronts.

James Rowe press conference q

Credit: Chesterfield Football Club

Their reward? A slender but welcome lead at the top of the National League table, with an FA Cup Fourth Round tie away to European champions Chelsea to look forward to as well. It’s safe to say James Rowe and co. should feel fairly confident heading into the new year.

Half-season grade: A+

Dagenham & Redbridge

Given their form at the backend of last season, it was perhaps little surprise to see Dagenham & Redbridge amongst the playoff challengers at the beginning of the campaign.

An unbeaten start that lasted six matches, the Daggers occupied a place in the top seven, up until they dropped out at the end of November.

Yet to return since, Dagenham & Redbridge will begin 2022 in some positive form at least, having won their final three matches of the year.

Half-season grade: B-

Dover Athletic

After failing to finish the last campaign, Dover Athletic began the 2021/22 season with a damaging 12 point deduction, which they are still yet to shake off.

Rock-bottom of the National League, the side from the White Cliffs remain the only side in any of England’s top six divisions without a win so far.

Relegation is inevitable for Dover, who will already be planning for life in the National League South. Will 2022 bring a victory for the Whites? Well, that remains to be seen.

Half-season grade: F

Eastleigh

A side that has always been there or thereabouts in recent campaigns, Eastleigh have been true to form so far this season and will finish the year comfortably clear of the drop zone, with a playoff spot in sight.

Winless in their first four league games, Eastleigh have since posted some impressive results, including a standout 2-0 victory at home to Notts County in mid-November.

Currently seven points off the playoffs, with a game in hand, the Spitfires will be hoping they can glide up the table in 2022.

Half-season grade: C

FC Halifax Town

Unlucky to have missed out on the playoffs last season, FC Halifax Town started the season in flying fashion, losing only two of their first 11 matches.

Since then, the Shaymen have continued their upwards trajectory, tasting defeat a further two times, whilst rocketing up the table.

Billy Waters Halifax

Photo: Marcus Branston

Pete Wild’s side finished 2021 on a high, taking a point away at first-placed Chesterfield and they’ll be looking to leapfrog the Derbyshire club when the new year rolls around.

Half-season grade: A+

Grimsby Town

One of two Football League dropouts from the season prior, it had looked for a long time as if Grimsby Town were going to walk the division, yet the Mariners finish the calendar year languishing down in 10th.

After losing the opening game of the season away to Bromley, Grimsby went unbeaten in their following 12 matches, winning an impressive 10.

Since mid-October, Paul Hursts’ side have won just once, leaving their hopes of automatic promotion come the end of the season currently blowing in the Lincolnshire wind.

Half-season grade: D+

King’s Lynn Town

If it wasn’t for Dover’s points deduction, there is every chance King’s Lynn Town could’ve been closing out the year bottom of the division.

No side other than Dover have conceded more, scored fewer goals or taken less points than King’s Lynn, as a return to the sixth tier beckons.

Five points adrift as it stands, new boss Tommy Widdrington has been left with it all to do in the new year.

Half-season grade: E

Maidenhead United

One of those sides King’s Lynn will be targeting in 2022 are Maidenhead United, whose current situation looks rather daunting.

Hovering dangerously above the drop zone, Maidenhead can ill-afford any more slip-ups, whilst just five victories all season could prove costly for the Magpies.

A Covid outbreak saw Maidenhead drop out of the FA Trophy without even kicking a ball, allowing for their full attention to be placed on achieving survival in the National League.

Half-season grade: D-

Notts County

Now into their third season as a non-league club, hopes of promotion hang in the balance for Notts County, after an indifferent start to the 2021/22 campaign.

The one-time FA Cup winners began the season in strong form, also going their first seven matches unbeaten, before tailing off slightly and dropping out of the playoff positions.

Notts County crowd record

Credit: @NCFCShorey (Twitter)

Undoubtedly, the Magpies’ standout moment of the season so far came when they broke the National League attendance record, with a stellar 12,843 people inside Meadow Lane to watch Notts County take three points off Solihull Moors in November.

Half-season grade: B

Solihull Moors

One of a handful of sides in the top half of the National League to have never played in the Football League, Solihull Moors will enter the new year with the playoffs still an achievable goal.

Some frustrating results, like a 5-1 thumping away to Dagenham & Redbridge, have been complemented by a number of standout performances, like a statement 2-0 triumph against former Football League stalwart Southend United.

Currently occupying the final position inside the playoffs, holding onto their space in the top seven could prove difficult for the Moors in 2022.

Half-season grade: B

Southend United

A League One club as little as two years ago, Southend United sit on the verge of a third consecutive relegation, in what is proving to be one of the club’s most turbulent periods in their history.

Desperate results on the pitch have been confounded by a circus show behind the scenes, with early-season protests against owner Ron Martin, bringing about unwanted national attention.

Collymore holds shirt

Stan Collymore joins Southend United FC - Credit: Southend United FC / WHITBYBOOT

The appointment of club legend Stan Collymore brought about some optimism for the Shrimpers, yet manager Kevin Maher faces an uphill task in the new year, if Southend are to retain their fifth-tier status.

Half-season grade: E

Stockport County

Perhaps the only side to have experienced a half-season filled with such contrasting ups and downs, life as a Stockport County supporter must’ve felt like being on a rollercoaster so far, with the best bit seemingly yet to come.

Defeat to Barnet in mid-October brought Simon Rusk’s short tenure to an end, with Dave Challinor’s appointment sparking a previously hapless Hatters into life.

Ollie Crankshaw Stockport

Ollie Crankshaw wheels away in celebration - Credit: Mike Petch

Ending the year four points off the top of the table, with few sides in the division playing better football, Stockport are one of the National League’s sides to watch in 2022.

Half-season grade: A-

Torquay United

Had things worked out differently, Torquay United may have been ending the year as a League Two outfit, yet the Gulls have not yet been able to bounce back from playoff final heartbreak last season.

A mixed bag of results has plagued Gary Johnson’s side so far, with Torquay currently languishing down in mid-table.

gary johnston torquay

Credit: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Returning to the playoffs isn’t out of the question for Torquay, given the quality they possess within their side, but with the sides above them just clicking into gear, the Gulls’ campaign is in danger of fizzling out before it has even got going.

Half-season grade: C-

Wealdstone

As one of the few semi-professional sides left in the division, competing amongst the National League big boys was always going to be difficult for Wealdstone, yet they’ll begin 2022 with hopes of survival.

Most importantly for Wealdstone, they’ve taken points off the teams in and around them, with victories over King’s Lynn, Altrincham and Barnet a few standout performances.

What’s more, a 1-0 triumph over then-leaders Grimsby remains their best victory of the campaign, with Wealdstone hoping to replicate such results in the new year.

Half-season grade: B-

Weymouth

Another side threatened by the prospect of relegation, avoiding the drop will be Weymouth’s one and only new year resolution.

Just four wins for the season has seen the Terras slip into the relegation zone, where they currently occupy the final position.

Ollie Crankshaw Stockport County

Credit: Stockport County Football Club / Mike Petch

Survival still remains possible for Weymouth, but winning matches against their fellow challengers will be crucial if they’re to stay up.

Half-season grade: D

Woking

A mid-table outfit for much of the campaign, Woking will be quietly pleased with the progression they have made after a forgettable 2020/21 season.

The signing of Tahvon Campbell has brought about renewed optimism to the Kingfield Stadium, with the forward having netted 13 goals so far.

solihull moors vs woking

Photo credit: Phil Fiddes

It’s quality like Campbell amongst the Woking ranks that could see them push towards the playoffs in the second half of the campaign, but it’s unlikely the Cardinals will break into the top seven.

Half-season grade: B-

Wrexham

Having recovered from a stumbling start, the National League’s Hollywood club are set for a blockbuster end to the season.

Ringing the changes in preseason, Wrexham’s new recruits failed to initially click into gear, yet as 2021 comes to a close, no side in the division managed to end the year in better form.

Unbeaten in their final eight league matches of the calendar year, Wrexham will be eyeing up the National League title come the end of May.

Half-season grade: A-

Yeovil Town

Having failed to really threaten the top spots since dropping back into non-league, the early part of the campaign suggested that could be about to change for Yeovil Town.

Sitting in fourth after five matches, the Glovers have since tailed off and will end the year hovering around the mid-table positions.

An unbeaten run of seven matches between October and December saw Yeovil improve their lowly league position, with the Somerset-based club still within the playoff mix.

Half-season grade: C+

Agree with our picks? Let us know your opinions by reaching out to @nonleaguenews or @AmosMurphy_


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