SCEFL: Who will claim the Crown?

With just under three weeks to go before the 2021/22 Southern Counties East Football League season begins, we have a look at the sides who will be competing and ranking their chances of success during the coming season.

Ahead of the new season, teams have began their pre-season schedule as well as being busy behind the seasons, putting together their squad that they will hope bring them a good season. With the last two-seasons being cut short early, everyone is hoping for an uninterrupted 21/22 season, that they hope will see them promotion at the end of a full-season.

Bearsted

Bearsted will hope to go from their mid-table finishes to competing further up the table during the coming season.

The 2019/20 season saw Bearsted competing at the upper end of mid-table, sitting 7th after 25-games. Their points total of 37-points, gave them a platform to compete for a top-6 finish against the likes of Hollands & Blair, who had played 3-games more and held a 5-point lead. The following season saw the Bears sitting 11th after just 13-games. They were one quarter of sides having played that many games during the 2020/21 season, so faced a battle to stay ahead of many others.

I think Bearsted will have a mid-table finish, and the 2020/21 season would be a good indication of where they could finish next season.

Prediction: 11th

Canterbury City

Canterbury will hope to replicate their 2019/20 form rather than last-seasons as they look to finish as high as possible.

City were 8th during the first COVID hit season as they collected 35-points in 25-games. Having played less games than those around them, they also had the platform to compete for a top-6 finish against Bearsted and Hollands, while also having the chance to stay ahead of those behind them. A tough start to the 20/21 season saw them sit 16th after winning just 3 of their opening 12-games. Having played more games than the sides below and sitting just 3-points off K Sports in 20th, meant they faced a tough battle to avoid a relegation battle.

I don’t think Canterbury will struggle as much as they did last season, and I expected them to be mid-table and not fighting for survival with a full season, however, I think they won’t be competing towards the top end of that.

Prediction: 13th

Chatham Town

Chatham Town will hope for another good season as they look to get promoted to Step 4 of the National League System.

The 2019/20 season saw the Chats sit 3rd after 28-games, sitting four points off the leaders and just 2-points off second. Although Chatham had played two-games more than Corinthian and one more than Beckenham Town, they were certainly going to take the battle for promotion right to the final day. The following season saw them sitting top of the league by +20 goals as they and Corinthian recorded just one lose in 11-games. Minus Sheppey United, the clubs below had played more games, allowing Chatham to try and extend their lead at the top.

I think Chatham could get over the line with a full-season. It will be a close battle between themselves, 2nd and 3rd, but I think the club will have enough to get over the line as Champions.

Prediction: 1st

Crowborough Athletic

Crowborough will hope to avoid relegation after two tough seasons, see them avoid a relegation battle with suspended seasons.

The Crows were a mere 3-points off the relegation zone last season after 28-games. Their 6-wins before the season was voided, kept them just ahead of Erith & Belvedere having played the same amount of games, but faced a battle to avoid relegation. The 11-games of the 2020/21 season saw Athletic sit 15th, but with 29-games left to play, they had plenty of chance to improve their form and league position.

I think Crowborough will struggle again, but I think they will have enough to survive in Step 5 for another season.

Prediction: 19th

Deal Town

Deal Town will hope to go do better than their two top-end mid-table finishes as they look to make the most a full season.

The Hoops were 11th after 24-games, collecting 23-points in the process. They had played 2-4 games less than teams around them, giving them the opportunity to fight for a place higher up the table. 4-wins could have taken them as high as 6th with 8-games left to play. The 20/21 season saw them sit 10th after just 11-games, sitting 8-points off 5th with two-games in-hand. With a further 29-games to play, they had more than enough time to chase a top-5 spot.

Although the Hoops had enough time to compete for a top-5 spot had the season continued last time around, I think they will finish around a similar place last season, miles away from relegation, but not competing for promotion.

Prediction: 9th

Erith & Belvedere

Erith & Belvedere will hope to avoid relegation after a tough two seasons, which saw them hovering above the relegation zone.

The Deres were bottom of the table during the 2019/20 season, sitting three points off Crowborough after 28-games. The club had games in-hand on 15th-placed K Sports, but were running out of time to survive the drop. The 20/21 season saw them pick up 9-points in 11-games, giving them a much better platform for survival at Step 5 as they found themselves 17th.

I think the Deres will struggle once again, but I think they will have enough for survival and will be a couple of places above the drop-zone.

Prediction: 18th

Erith Town

Erith Town will hope to be close to the title-hopes as they look to build on two mid-table finishes.

The Dockers sat 10th after 26-games during the first COVID hit season as they collected a total of 33-points. They sat 9-points off 5th-place with two-games in hand, giving them a good enough platform in which to compete for a top-5 place finish. The following season saw Erith sit two-placed better after 12-games. They sat 4-points off 5th with a game in-hand and certainly would have hoped for a higher finish than where they sat when the season was voided.

I think Erith could be a strong side next season, but I see them finishing just ahead of where they sat last season. I think they’d win enough games to be higher in the table, but not enough to compete for promotion.

Prediction: 7th

Fisher

Fisher will hope to better their mid-table positions that they had found themselves in during the course of the last two-seasons.

The Fish sat 12th during the 2019/20 season, having played 26-games. Ajay Ashanike’s men were comfortably ahead of the relegation zone, and still within a shot of competing higher up the table.  The following season saw them sit 12th again, after picking up 15-points from their opening 11-games. They sat 2-points off 9th-place Glebe with a game in-hand which could have propelled them further up the table.

Although Fisher will hope to be closer to the promotion places, I think a mid-table finish would be a fair reflection on where the club currently are. As a result, I think there will be no change from where the club were the last two-seasons.

Prediction: 12th

Glebe

Glebe have showed a vast improvement over the last two-seasons and will hope to again do better, this time during the 2021/22 season.

Glebe were 14th when the 19/20 season was voided, but they played the least amount of games, 22 compared to other 23-31. Their 8-wins and 5-draws gave them 29-points but with at least 6-games in hand on many sides, they could have been propelled further up the table. The 20/21 season saw Glebe make a decent start to the season, sitting 9th after just 12-games and four-points off 6th. With plenty of games to play, Glebe would have been confident of a higher place finish.

I think Glebe will have a decent full season next term, but I think they will just miss out on a top-6 finish. Next season could be a great platform to build on going forward, but I think they will have to settle for a top-8 finish next season.

Prediction: 8th

Hollands & Blair

Hollands & Blair will hope to build upon their top-7 finishes and hope to do ever better next term.

Blair found themselves 6th during the 2019/20 season having played 28-games. Their tally of 42-points put them 4-points off 5th, but having played 5-games more than Tunbridge Wells. Had the season continued, they would have faced a tough battle to stay as high as 6th. The following season saw them sit a further place off the top-6, finding themselves 7th with 11-games played. They sat much closer to the sides above, including 3-points off 5th with 2-games in-hand and would have been hopeful of remaining as close to the leaders as possible.

I think Hollands & Blair will have another good season and will hope to build on the two previous campaigns. I think they will get a top-5 finish, but won’t be close enough to challenge any higher.

Prediction: 5th

Holmersdale

Holmersdale were promotion from the SCEFL Division One after finishing 2nd in the combined season table and will hope to show what they can do in the Premier Division.

The Dalers found themselves 3rd after 24-games in the First Division, as they collected 51-points with 15 wins and 6 draws. Their league position gave them a great platform to challenge for promotion as they faced the least amount of defeats while sitting 4-points off the leaders with 2-games in-hand. The following season saw them just in the promotion places by a +4 goal-difference after just 6-games. With 26-games left to play, they again in a good position as they sat 6-points off top with 2-games in-hand. The combined table saw them sit second with a record of winning 66 points from their 30-games over the two-seasons, with gave them 2.2 PPG.

Although Holmersdale did well to get promoted and could have battled for the title in both seasons, I think they will struggle in the Premier Division. I think they will have enough to stay up, but will find themselves towards the bottom end of the table.

Prediction: 17th

K Sports

K Sports will hope a full season could see them improve their league positions from the last two-seasons as they sought to avoid relegation.

The Paperboys were 15th and 9-points clear of the relegation place after playing 31-games before the 2019/20 season was halted, but were out of the conversation of relegation. They had played the most games of all sides during the Premier Division, so with every side having between 3 and 9 games in-hand, they would have been wary of where they stood had the season continued. The following season saw a poor start leave Sports sitting just above the relegation place. One win in their opening 11-games saw them sit 5-points ahead of Tower Hamlets, but with two-games in-hand. Had the last season resumed beyond the new year, they would have been hopeful of pulling well clear of the drop-zone.

I think K Sports will avoid relegation, but I think they will finish in the lower end of the table. A poor start could leave them playing catch-up, but they should have enough to avoid the drop.

Prediction: 16th

Kennington

Kennington found themselves promoted to the Premier Division after being top of the table in the combined season table, and certainly want to leave their mark at Step 5.

The Ton were top of the table during the 2019/20 season and holding a narrow 1-point lead over second-place Rusthall and 4-point lead over Holmersdale, but having played one and two more games respectively. Kennington would have been confident of getting the job done, had the season continued. The following season saw them sit 2nd after just 6-games. Their haul of 18-points and their perfect start to the season saw them sit 3-points behind the leaders with 2-games in-hand and within a real shout of battling for first again. Their combined season total of 73-points in 32 games saw them sit top with an average of 2.28 PPG, 0.08 ahead of Holmersdale.

Despite only being promoted ahead of this season, I think the Tons will surprise everyone and have a strong season. I think they’d finish as a top-4 side next season.

Prediction: 4th

Lordswood

Lordswood will hope to replicate their 2019/20 form rather than their 2020/21 form as they look to stay in the Premier Division next season.

The Lords sat 13th during the first COVID hit season after playing just over 72% of their games for the season. Their haul of 32-points put them level with Fisher and Deal Town, while also keeping them 12-points ahead of 19th-place with just 10-games to play. The following season saw Lordswood much closer to the drop-zone, sitting 19th. After 13-games, they found themselves 6-points clear of the bottom and while they may have dropped down to 20th, they would have been confident staying above Hamlets.

I think Lordswood will have a slightly better season than last term and I expect them to stay in the Premier Division at the end of the season, but I think they will finish towards the lower section of mid-table.

Prediction: 15th

Punjab United

Punjab United will hope to improve on their mid-table finishes from the last two seasons as they look to remain in the Premier Division next season.

The 19/20 saw Punjab sit 16th after 28-games. Their points total of 24 put them within 4-points of the relegation zone, but still with 8-games left to play and plenty of points. Had the season continued, Punjab would have been confident of saying up. The season that followed saw them sit two-placed ahead, but having played 16 games less. They won a total of 13-points from their opening 12-games and held a 11-point lead over the bottom side, giving them a good platform to build upon for safety, had the season resumed.

I think Punjab will replicate their form from the last season and will see them finish mid-table, but comfortably enough away from the prospect of relegation.

Prediction: 14th

Rusthall

Rusthall were the final side to be promoted from Division One to the Premier Division as they recorded an average of 2.09 PPG, and will hope that will put them in good stead for the coming season.

The Rustics were second during the 19/20 season after collecting 54-points in 25-games. Their 17-wins and 3-draws put them a point off Kennington, with a game in-hand on their title rivals and had the season been given the green light to continue, Rusthall would have been confident in taking the fight to the wire. The 2020/21 season saw them just outside the promotion places on a -4 goal-difference after just 8-games. While sides around them had 1-2 games in-hand, they were still in a good position to compete for promotion, especially with 24-games left to play.

I think Rusthall will be another side to do well in the Premier Division next term. Like Kennington, I think they’ll pull off a few surprises, allowing them to finish in the top half of the table.

Prediction: 6th

Sheppey United

Sheppey will hope to build on their 4th-place positions and will be hopeful of a promotion push this coming campaign.

The Ites were a point off 3rd-place Chatham after 27-games with a game in hand on the Chats. Their points total also saw them just 5-points off the league leaders, with a few games left to play. Sheppey were fourth again during the 20/21 season, but after just 9-games. They were in a far better position during the last season as they sat 5-points off leaders Chatham with 2-games in-hand and with them playing the lowest amount of games of all side, they had a great platform to challenge for promotion.

I think Sheppey will be one of the favourites for promotion, improving on their fourth place position and going for gold. I think they will just miss out on top-spot, but they should still be in a strong position to reach Step 4.

Prediction: 2nd

Tower Hamlets

Tower Hamlets will hope for a much better 2020/21 season as they look avoid relegation next season.

Hamlets spent the 2019/20 season in the Essex Senior League as they sat 18th after 27-games. Their tally of 22-points kept them 14-points ahead of Sawbridgeworth Town, but were safe from the prospect of relegation. They were moved across to the SCEFL last season after moving grounds, but again struggled and faced the prospect of the drop. Tower Hamlets had managed just 2-points from their opening 13-games, putting them 5-points from safety. Had the season continued, Hamlets would have had to find form from somewhere to avoid relegation to Step 6.

I think Tower Hamlets will struggle once again and with the prospect of a full-season ahead for the new season, I think survival will be too much of an ask and it will end in relegation to Division One.

Prediction: 20th

Tunbridge Wells

Tunbridge Wells will look to build on their top-half finishes and they look to challenge the likes of Chatham Town and Sheppey United to promotion.

The Royals were 5th during the 2019/20 season after playing just 23-games. Their 15-wins and 1-draw put them with 14-points of the leaders, with up to 5-games in-hand on the sides above, giving them scope to challenge for promotion had the season continued. A good start to the following season saw them sit 3rd after 12-games. 8-wins and 2-draws were enough to see them 4-points off the top-two, having played a game more, while they faced tough competition from Sheppey United, who sat a point-behind with 3-games in-hand.

I think the Wells will be very much in the conversation of promotion, looking to build upon their 3rd-place position from last season, however, I think with the top-two being up for promotion, I think they will fall just short this time around.

Prediction: 3rd

Welling Town

Welling Town will sought a top-half finish to continued on from where they sat in the 2019/20 season.

During that season, the Boots sat 9th after 27-games. Their haul of 34-points from those 27-games, put them within 3-points of 7th, but having played 2-games more. The following season saw sit just below their 19/20 position, 13th after 11-games. 4-wins and a draw were enough to put them 4-points behind 9th, with a game in-hand. That gave them a good start to what was set to be a decent campaign for Welling.

I think they will get their top-half finish, although I think they will be in and around where they sat last season. As a result, I don’t think they’d be close enough for a promotion push, but they will be comfortably clear of any battles towards the bottom.

Prediction: 10th

 

Bearsted Erith & Belvedere Holmersdale Rusthall
Canterbury City Erith Town K Sports Sheppey United
Chatham Town Fisher Kennington Tower Hamlets
Crowborough Athletic Glebe Lordswood Tunbridge Wells
Deal Town Hollands & Blair Punjab United Welling Town