SSML: Who will have a high flying season?

With just 5-days go before the 2021/22 Spartan South Midlands 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 either finished or are near to finishing their pre-season schedule as well as being busy behind the scenes, 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.

Ardley United 

Ardley United have been moved across to the Spartan South Midlands League, after two tough seasons the Hellenic League Premier Division.

Ardley found themselves in the bottom two during the 2019/20 season after 26-games. Although they were in the relegation zone, they only sat 4-points from safety, but having played more games than those above. The following season also saw Ardley in the bottom two. A tough start to the campaign put them 2-points from 16th-place, but having played the most games. One win and a draw from their opening 10-games would have left them playing catch-up had the season continued.

I think Ardley will struggle and will find themselves at the lower end of the table, but I think they will have just enough to survive in the Spartan South Prem.

Prediction: 17th

Arlesey Town 

Arlesey Town will hope to improve on the last two-years as they look to push up the table.

The Blues sat 16th during the first Covid hit season after 28-games. Their haul of 30-points put them within touching distance of the sides above, but with only 12-games remaining, they would have faced a battle to finish higher. Their start to the 20/21 season saw them pick up 12-points in their opening 10-games. That put them 15th and with 30-games left to play, they had plenty of time to rise up the table.

I think Arlesey Town will have a similar to what they have had in the last two-years. They will be comfortably safe for relegation, but they won’t be challenging either.

Prediction: 15th

Aylesbury Vale Dynamos

Aylesbury Vale Dynamos will look to replicate their start to the 2020/21 season rather than replicate the form they showed during the previous season.

The 2019/20 season wasn’t the best for the Dynamos. A points tally of 29 from the 26-games they played had put them 18th. Despite finding themselves close to the relegation zone in positions, they held a 10-point gap over 20th and would have stayed above them, even if North Greenford United had won their games in-hand. The following season saw the Dynamos sit 11th after 10-games. 6-wins and a draw put them 9-points behind the league leaders with 4-games in-hand.

I think Aylesbury will finish mid-table with a full season behind them. A good start could prove vital to whether they finish closer to the top or the bottom.

Prediction: 12th 

Baldock Town

Baldock Town will look to build on the last two seasons and to do better than a top-half mid-table finish next season.

The Reds sat 12th during the 2019/20 season, having won 11 and drew 3 of their 29-games. The 36-points they collected put them 8-points off 8th-place with 4-games in-hand. Baldock made a good start to the 2020/21 season, sitting 10th after 10-games. Their haul of 21-points meant they picked up over 58% of their previous season’s points, having played 19-games less.

I think Baldock will improve on the last two-seasons. While I think they will be into the top-half of the table, I think they will finish just outside the top-6.

Prediction: 7th

Broadfields United

Broadfields United will hope for a better season as they look to avoid relegation.

The last two-seasons have been tough for the Fighting Cocks as they found themselves towards the bottom end of the table. The 2019/20 season saw them sit 17th after 29-games, collecting 30-points in the process. Their points total put them 11-points ahead of the drop zone with 11-points left to play for. A tough start to the following season put them 2-points ahead of the drop zone after 11-games. With 29-games left to play, they had a battle on their hands to stay in the division.

I think it will be another tough season for Broadfields. Although I see them finishing towards the lower end of the table, I think they will just be safe from relegation.

Prediction: 18th

Crawley Green

Crawley Green will hope for a top-half finish and will want to replicate their form from the 2019/20 rather than the one that followed.

Crawley sat in 8th during the first Covid hit season after 32-games. 11-wins and 11-draws put the club on 44-points and within 4-points of 6th, but having played 3-games more. The 20/21 season saw the club sitting 12th, having played 14-games. The club had again played one of the highest amount of games, but with results going their way, they still could have finished higher.

I think Crawley Green will finish higher than they have done in the last two-seasons. I think a good start to the new season could give them a good platform for achieving a top-6 finish.

Prediction: 6th

Dunstable Town

Dunstable Town will look to better the last two-seasons, having sat in the same positions.

27-games into the 2019/20 season, the Blues sat 14th. The 32-points they had collected in those 27-games, put them 10-points off 10th with 6-games in-hand and with plenty of time to improve their position. 4-wins and 4-draws in their opening 13-games of the 2020/21 season put Dunstable Town 14th again, but with over 25-games left to play, they had more than enough time to improve their form ahead of the second half of the season.

I think Dunstable will be in a similar position come the new season. While a good start or a good end to the second would leave them in good stead, I think they will make a slight improvement on last season.

Prediction: 13th 

Flackwell Heath

Flackwell Heath are another side who will be competing in the Spartan South Premier Division after being laterally moved across from the Hellenic League.

The Heathens found themselves mid-table during the 2019/20 season. After 24-games, Flackwell had picked up 33-points, putting them 10-points off 4th-place with 3-games in-hand. An impressive start to the 2020/21 campaign put the Heath top-of-the-table. 6-wins and one defeat in their opening 7-games, put them a point ahead of second-placed Binfield, having played the same amount of games. Although there were 27-games remaining, Flackwell had a great platform to challenge for promotion.

I think the Spartan South will be far tougher than the Hellenic League and I think they will just fall short over the course of a full-season.

Prediction: 16th 

Hadley 

Hadley were moved back to the Spartan South Midlands League ahead of the 2021/22 season after spending two-seasons in the Essex Senior League.

Hadley were competing for a promotion spot during the 2019/20 season, finding themselves fourth after 26-games. Their haul of 57-points put them 8-points off third and 6-points off second with 10-games left to play. The bricks were looking to compete again, but a strong FA Vase campaign meant they had played the least amount of games in the Senior League. 21-points from 8-games put them 10-points off the leaders with 4-games in-hand. Giving them a strong platform for a promotion push.

I think Hadley will be competing for promotion in the Spartan South. With a strong squad, I don’t think they will finish top, but I think the Bricks will have a good points-per-game from across Step 5.

Prediction: 2nd 

Harefield United

Harefield United will look to make build on the start they made during the 2020/21 season as they look to finish as high as possible.

The 2019/20 season for Harefield saw them sit 15th after 27-games. 8-wins and 7-draws for the Hares put them 11-points off 10th with 4-games in-hand. The following season saw them sit 9th after 12-games, having collected nearly 70% of their previous season’s total. Sitting 7-points off the leaders with 3-games in-hand gave them a great platform to challenge higher up the table.

I think Harefield will have another good start to the season, and will certainly build on their 20/21 season, but I think it will be a slight improvement on the previous season.

Prediction: 8th

Harpenden Town

Harpenden Town will hope to build upon the last two-seasons which saw them sit in the top-10 during the last two-seasons.

The Harps found themselves in the top-6 during the 2019/20 season. After 29-games, Harpenden sat 10-points off 3rd with 2-games in-hand, giving them a chance to finish higher had the season continued. The following season saw them sit in a much better position after 11-games. Although they sat two-places off the previous season, the Harps were only 6-points off the leaders with 3-games in-hand, giving them a strong platform to challenge for a top-3 finish.

I think Harpenden will improve on the last two-seasons and will show their strength with a top-5 finish, but I think they will just missed out on any chance of promotion.

Prediction: 5th

Holmer Green

Holmer Green were the third side to be moved across from the Hellenic League Premier Division to the Spartan South ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.

For the Greens, the 2019/20 proved a tough season. Just 2-wins and 4-draws in their 26-league games put them bottom and 17-points from safety, putting them in danger of relegation. An good start to the following campaign saw Holmer sit 7th after 13-games. 4-wins and a draw were enough to put them 4-points off 3rd, with a game in-hand and the club had achieve a higher points total in 18-less games.

I think Holmer Green will have another tough season, but I don’t think they will have enough to remain in the division. A tough start to the season could leave them playing catch-up.

Prediction: 19th

Leighton Town

Leighton Town will look to build on their 7th-place finish in the last two-seasons.

The Reds were 7th during the 2019/20, having picked up 45-points in the 26-games they played. Their points total put them 14-points off 3rd-place, but with 5-games in-hand, giving them a great platform to challenge for a top-two place. The shortened 20/21 season saw them also sit 7th, but having played 10-games. It was a start to the season that saw Leighton sit 6-points off the leaders with 4-games in-hand.

I think Leighton Town will have another good season, but I don’t think they will finish in the promotion spots. Instead, I think they will have a top-4 finish.

Prediction: 4th 

Leverstock Green

Leverstock Green will hope to finish higher than mid-table with a full-season behind them.

The 2019/20 season put the Greens 11th after 28-games. 38-points after 70% of their fixtures put them 6-point off 8th with 4-games in-hand, putting them in a good position to find in the top-half. The following season saw them sit 13th after 11-games. 16-points in those 11-games put the Trees 12-points off the leaders with 3-games in-hand, although with plenty of games left to play, it would have been tough to compete for promotion.

I think Leverstock Green will have a good season, which would see them finish in the top-half of the table and improving on the last two-seasons.

Prediction: 9th

London Colney

London Colney will hope to improve on the last two seasons and avoid relegation during the 2021/22 season.

The Blueboys found themselves falling adrift of safety during the 2019/20 season, sitting bottom of the table. After 28-games, Colney had 14-points, putting them 13-points from safety with just 12-games left to play and having played more games than the sides above. The following season didn’t see them fare any better as they picked up just 4-points from their opening 11-games. With 29-games left to play, London Colney had plenty of time to improve their form, but they had found themselves playing catch-up from the very start.

I think London Colney will struggle during the 2021/22 season, and I think think they will have enough to remain at Step 5 for the new season.

Prediction: 20th

Milton Keynes Irish

MK Irish were promoted from Division One after finishing 3rd in the combine seasons table with an average of 2 PPG.

The club sat 6th in Division One during the 2019/20 season after 28-games. 16 wins and 4-draws in that time put them 3-points off 4th-place, putting them in a good position to challenge for promotion. A strong start to the 20/21 season put MK Irish in a great position to challenge for the title. 22-points in 9-games put them second and 3-points off Shefford Town & Campton, with 2-games in-hand. A combined total of 74-points from 37-games was enough to see them promoted.

I think they will be comfortable in the league next season, but I see them finishing towards the bottom end of mid-table.

Prediction: 14th 

New Salamis 

New Salamis were promoted to the Premier Division after finishing second in the combined season table with 2.10 PPG.

Salamis were battled for the title during the 2019/20 season, finding themselves top by a +21 goal-difference over St Panteleimon. While they were leading the race, they had played two-games more than their title-rivals, making it a tight race. The following season saw the club sitting 10th after 8-games. 13-points in those 8-games put them 12-points off the leaders with 3-games in-hand, giving them a chance to compete for promotion to the Premier Division once again. A total of 78-points from the 37-games played across two-seasons was enough for New Salamis to finish second in the combined season table, and promoted ahead of the new season.

I don’t think they will struggle in the coming season, nor do I see them challenging early on in their stint in the top-tier. As a result, I see them finishing mid-table.

Prediction: 11th 

Oxhey Jets

Oxhey Jets will look to build on their two high place positions from the last two-seasons as they challenge for promotion.

The 2019/20 season was a good one for the Jets, as they found themselves 5th after 29-games. 14-wins and 8-draws in that time saw them sitting 9-points off 3rd with 2-games in-hand, giving them a chance to close the gap on the sides above. They had looked to better their position in the following season and got off to a fantastic start, sitting 2nd after 12-games. Their points haul put them 3-points off the leaders, with 2-games in-hand, giving them a pole position to challenge for the title and promotion.

I think Oxhey Jets will be ones to look out for next season in what will be a tough season, and I think they will have enough to see them finish top of the division.

Prediction: 1st

Risborough Rangers

Risborough Rangers were promoted and moved across to the Spartan South Midlands League after finishing top of the combine season table.

Rangers found themselves top of the Hellenic League Division One East during the 2019/20 season. After 23-games, they had picked up 63-points and held a 14-point lead over second-place with a game in-hand. That put them in pole position had the season continued. The following season saw Borough sit 4th after 6-games, having won 6 out of 6. That put them 5-points off the leaders with 2-games in-hand, again putting them in pole position for promotion. The combined total of 78-points from 29-games saw them promoted with an average points total of 2.68.

I think Risborough will have a statement season in the Spartan South, but I think it would take a lot to challenge for a place high in the table. I think they will finish mid-table.

Prediction: 10th

Tring Athletic

Tring Athletic will look to replicate their form from the curtailed 2019/20 season, and make a better start than they did last term.

Tring were competing for promotion during the first Covid hit season as they sat second after 31-games. 20-wins and 2-draws from those games put them 6-points off Colney Heath, but having played a game more. The following season had a tough beginning to the 20/21 season as they found themselves 17th after 15-games. Just 3 wins in that time saw them sit 4-points from the drop zone, having played 3-games more than Wembley.

I think Tring will have a better season and I think they will be high in the table come the end of the season, but I think they will just miss out on promotion.

Prediction: 3rd

Ardley United Harpenden Town
Arlesey Town Holmer Green
Aylesbury Vale Dynamos Leighton Town
Baldock Town Leverstock Green
Broadfields United London Colney
Crawley Green Milton Keynes Irish
Dunstable Town New Salamis
Flackwell Heath Oxhey Jets
Hadley Risborough Rangers
Harefield United Tring Athletic