Non-League: Round-up

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The chairman of struggling Skrill Premier side Hereford United, David Keyte, has offered to step down from his position if he receives the right offer from fresh investors.

Hereford were served with a winding-up petition by HM Revenue and Customs in January after struggling to meet its PAYE and VAT bills.

They faced a similar situation last year, but were able to pay the bills thanks to a £70,000 payment from a televised FA Cup tie against Cheltenham. The club said in a statement that the latest petition was not a surprise.

Keyte, who became club chairman in 2010, has now offered to quit if a suitable candidate emerges. He will hope that the Bulls’ board can make good on their promises to redevelop their ground, Edgar Street, in an effort to put the club on a firmer financial footing.

The club still faces a tax bill of around £36,500 after the collapse of a potential major deal with a telecommunications company last month. Keyte admitted the club, who have been dogged by troubles since dropping out of the football league in May 2012, face a fight to avoid going into administration.

“We have sought the advice of an administrator should the worst scenario actually be necessary,” he said. “But I would stress that remains our last resort.”

The telecoms deal, which would have cleared Hereford's debts, fell through over logistical issues, including a failure to agree who would carry the cost of removing and relocating equipment when the ground is redeveloped.

"To lose the telecoms deal at the last hour is a massive blow," Keyte added. "But it is absolutely the correct conclusion when we consider the long-term future of the stadium and future proposed developments."

United were beaten 7-0 by Conference leaders Luton Town last Saturday, the Bulls’ worst league defeat in 50 years. The result also marks a second consecutive defeat since the January deadline day sale of key midfield man John O’Keefe to rivals Kidderminster Harriers. They remain nine points clear of the relegation zone.

Skrill Premier: Top

Luton Town are now nine points clear at the top of the Skrill Premier table and look well set for a return to the football league, with nearest rivals Cambridge United suffering from a miserable run of just one win in six games since Boxing Day.

The Hatters, who thrashed Hereford 7-0 thanks to a hat-trick from Andre Gray and goals from Paul Benson, Jake Howells, Pelly Ruddock and Alex Lawless, have now won ten of their last eleven league games, and are unbeaten in their last 22 Conference fixtures. Gray is also now the league’s top scorer, with a total of 22 goals.

Cambridge’s bad run has included consecutive defeats to Alfreton (1-0) and Grimsby (2-1), while Dartford, Halifax and Nuneaton have all come away with draws from their matches with the U’s. While Richard Money’s team still have a game in hand on the leaders, a playoff place now looks their best chance of promotion.

Even a spot in the top five is not secure for United, who have several teams queuing up behind them in a congested top half of the table. Alfreton Town’s fine season sees them still in third position, a point behind Cambridge, although admittedly with three less games remaining in their league season.

Three and four points further back respectively sit Nuneaton Town and Gateshead – two teams that were, like Alfreton, far from pre-season favourites for promotion. The Boro’ remain inconsistent, with four wins and four defeats in their last eight games, with their early season form – which saw them top the table in September – keeping them in touch. The Heed’s fine run was brought to a startling end by Woking last weekend, with goals from John Nutter and John Goddard handing Gary Mills only his second home defeat as Gateshead manager, as well as the club’s first loss in ten matches.

Salisbury City missed the chance to move into the top five when they fell to a surprise 3-1 defeat at Southport on the same afternoon. They remain sixth on goal difference.
Grimsby Town, Halifax and Barnet are also within a win of the top five, with the Mariners multiple games in hand seemingly ensuring that they will be amongst the promotion chasers, despite their current league position. They’ve lost just one of their last ten games and are unbeaten in four.

In tenth place, last season’s runners-up Kidderminster Harriers are sliding steadily down the table, having initially started well under new boss Andy Thorn. They’ve failed to win any of their last four league games – losing three of those against Dartford, Gateshead and Lincoln.

Skrill Premier: Bottom

Hyde did manage to pick up their eighth point of the season with a 1-1 draw against Tamworth, but remain 18 points adrift of the rest of the division as they look set for a return to Skrill North.
Dartford’s mini-revival which has seen them win two and draw two of their last five games, including victories over Kidderminster and Wrexham, which has moved them back within touch, but they remain five points adrift of safety.

Tamworth are two points better off, but having beaten only Hyde and Halifax since November, they will need to improve greatly over the final weeks of the season if they want to escape the bottom four.

Aldershot Town currently complete the relegation zone, but with games in hand, only one point to make up on Southport and Chester, and just three defeats in their last ten games, the Shots will expect to eventually manoeuvre themselves to safety.

Both Southport and Chester won on their last outings to end bad runs of form. The Sandgrounders win was their first since the 4th January – a surprise 3-1 success against Salisbury to go with their impressive goalless draw against Grimsby. The Seals, who started well under new manager Steve Burr, had lost their last three games before a 2-1 victory over Halifax.

Braintree Town are the next team when looking up the league table, but their six plus games in hand on the teams around them means they are somewhat ill positioned. Both Hereford United and Woking will also be still looking over their shoulders, despite surely being confident of reaching safety.

FA Trophy

Skrill South rivals Gosport Borough and Havant & Waterlooville will meet in the FA Trophy semi-finals for the right to play at Wembley on the 23rd March.

Gosport surprised Skrill North frontrunners North Ferriby United, who had dispatched Skrill Premier side’s Hyde, Woking and Lincoln on route to the quarter-finals, winning 2-1, while Havant thrashed Aldershot 4-1.

The pair, placed 22nd and 14th respectively in their division, will face either Cambridge or Grimsby in the final. Cambridge defeated Skrill Premier rivals Grimsby 2-1 in the first leg at Abbey Stadium, while Havant and Gosport played out a 1-1 draw at West Leigh Park.

Elsewhere in Non-League

Bromley remain 11 points clear at the top of the Skrill South table, although they were stunned last time out – losing 3-2 against lowly Dorchester Town, who had been bottom of the league table ahead of kick-off.

Eastleigh, who have three games in hand on their title rivals, haven’t played since a 3-1 win over Ebbsfleet United at the end of last month. Ebbsfleet, along with Sutton United and Bath City, currently occupy the playoff places.

Maidenhead United currently sit in the bottom three alongside Dorchester and Gosport.
Six points separate the top five in Skrill North, with North Ferriby United currently leading the way from AFC Telford and Hednesford Town, who are both three points adrift. Brackley Town and Boston United currently complete the playoff places.

Oxford City, Gloucester City and Workington are in the relegation zone.

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