Football is back and in full flow now with the short summer break behind us. Not only have the major leagues resumed but the lower leagues up and down the county too. Non-league is where the real magic happens, from the fifth tier all the way down to Sunday league. Here is a preview of some big games this weekend in non-league…

National League

Starting in the highest division of non-league and the National League is set for another fierce season. Torquay United were the frontrunners for large parts last year but they eventually fell away and were unable to gain promotion through the playoffs. Blundell Park which is the home of Grimsby Town is the team being focussed on here though. They looked to be a half-decent team under the legendary Ian Holloway but his stint was brief and League 2 overwhelmed them.

GRIMSBY, ENGLAND – MAY 01: Grimsby Town manager Paul Hurst looks on during the Sky Bet League Two match between Grimsby Town and Port Vale at Blundell Park on May 01, 2021 in Grimsby, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images)

Paul Hurst has gained promotion whilst at the helm of Grimsby before and they’ll be hoping to repeat that, but they host Barnet this weekend which is far from a walk in the park. Barnet were themselves a football league side not too long ago but they’ve been caught in the non-league trappings, unable to instantly bounce back. The Bees have picked up just one point from the three opening games so far whilst Grimsby have a win and a draw to their name so form definitely favours the host. Elsewhere in the division, the aforementioned Torquay United travel to Maidenhead whilst Yeovil welcome Halifax Town to Huish Park on BT Sport in the later kick-off.

National League North

Dropping down to the National League North and this is another league boasting some big names. One game worth following sees Darlington host Bradford (Park Avenue), the pair bringing up the rear in the standings. The latter have just one point on the board following a draw with Hereford FC a couple of weeks back whereas their opponents for the weekend are yet to get off of the mark. That being said, Darlington have played only twice thus far and both losses came by a margin of a single goal: 3-2 to Alfreton Town and 2-1 to Curzon Ashton.

BRADFORD, ENGLAND – JULY 13: Floral wreaths from both teams are seen under Bradford Park Avenue AFC signage in a pay of respects for the Tom Banks Memorial during the Pre Season Friendly, Tom Banks Memorial Trophy match between Bradford Park Avenue and Bradford City at Horsfall Stadium on July 13, 2021 in Bradford, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

BPA’s recent non-league game against Chorley was called off in the midst of a very serious injury. Midfielder Jake Hibbs was the unlucky man, the 25-year-old having sustained a double fracture which is said to need surgery. The heart-warming element of this story is that a fundraiser for the player took off rather quickly. Well over £4,000 was raised in the first 3 or 4 days and that figure is said to be nearing the 5k mark: the self-employed landscape gardener and his partner are expecting a child soon so the gesture becomes all the more kind. Back to the game at hand though and both sides will be searching for a first win of the season. Meanwhile, table-toppers AFC Fylde visit Kettering Town and Southport go in search of a first win against Gateshead.

National League South

Going South but of course remaining in non-league and there is another battle between two stragglers. Only Billericay Town and Hemel Hempstead have had a worse start to the new season than the pair in question. Slough have played three games so far and their opponents for tomorrow Welling United one more, and they both have a win to their name. That solitary win is combined with only losses though and so three points are much sought after for both teams.

SLOUGH, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 06: Paul Hodges of Slough FC is congratulated by team mate Sean Fraser after scoring the opening goal during the Vanarama National League South match between Slough FC and Hemel Hempstead Town at Arbour Park on October 06, 2020 in Slough, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Park View Road is the venue for this one, the home of Welling, and that is where they’re at their best. They won last time out against Concord Rangers 2-1 but the three prior results were losses, two of which came on the road. They were defeated 3-0 at Havant and Waterlooville on the opening day and then St Albans hammered them 5-0 at the end of August. Welling came up short in the playoffs at the final hurdle in 2019 whilst Slough Town gained promotion to this rung of the non-league ladder fives years back now. Also on Saturday afternoon, mid-table Bath City welcome table topping Dartford to Twerton Park and two recently relegated teams in Ebbsfleet and Havant and Waterlooville go head-to-head.

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