Down in the shite – A look at the 23/24 relegation battle

With just over a month left in the season, we take a closer look at the relegation battle and the teams in and around us in the shite who are facing the grim prospect of retuning to the glue league.

Bishop Stortford

No two ways about it, these are fucked. Though given the incessant moaning from this last summer, I couldn’t be happier and I’m sure most of you will feel the same. 

Stortford have seemingly gone down without a fight, as they look set to bow out of the National League North with a whimper. They sit 26 points from safety and could be relegated by next week. 

Though I’m sure they’ll blame getting put in the NLN and the resulting impact that decision had on recruitment, rather than just admitting they recruited poorly and simply weren’t good enough. 

Gloucester City

After a disastrous season on and off the pitch, it’s safe to say Gloucester are just about done for. Wey, they were before they defeated champions to be Tamworth on Tuesday night.

Appointing Tim Flowers in the summer backfired massively, as his recruitment was rather poor after they had to fully refresh their squad following a switch back to a part time model. A change in ownership last year also seemed to unsettle things at the club.

They seemed to get a bit better under new manager Mike Cook, but they’ve been through countless players this season which would naturally unsettle just about any team.

With 8 games left to play they’re 11 points from safety. Coming back from that would be a huge ask, but so was beating Tamworth the other day. Other than Peterborough Sports though, they don’t really play anyone else down in the shite.

Gloucester face the likes of Spennymoor, Warrington, Scunthorpe, Curzon Ashton, Brackley who are all chasing play the play offs in some shape or form, so getting anywhere near the 50 point in those games will be difficult.

Banbury United

I think after they began to struggle in the later half of the season in the previous campaign, a few of us joked that they’d have second season syndrome. And it turns out we were right!

Personally, I’ll be quite glad to see the back of the strange little village that is Banbury, and their black out crew. Their season has been dogged by the state of their pitch, which wouldn’t have been fit for water polo at times.

Following Andy Whing’s resignation at the end of last season, former Hemel Hempstead manager Mark Jones came in and made a bit of dick of things. He averaged just 1.11 points a game and was sacked in January, with Banbury bringing in former Ilkeston and Nuneaton manager Kevin Wilson.

He got off to a decent start but Banbury’s big problem this season has been a lack of goals. With only 32 goals scored so far, they rank 23rd in terms of goals scored – beating only Bishop Stortford in that category by a single goal.

While they are 6 points off the drop with games in hand, they have just lost 6 in a row and seem to be imploding. They do have Bishop Stortford to play and Kings Lynn, but games against Boston, Scunthorpe, Curzon Ashton, Hereford, Chorley & Spennymoor will largely be unwinnable – and that’s before Tamworth come down at the end of the season for a title party.

Some people may still have faith in them as their only 6 points adrift, but for me their done for.

Rushall Olympic

Losing the league’s top scorer in Danny Waldron to Southend United in January will be what costs Rushall their league status. Survival was always going to be a big ask for these as while they are a decent club, they’re just to small to survive at this level for me.

Liam McDonald is a decent manager who deserves credit for the job he’s done there this season, but I just can’t see him saving Rushall from the drop this season. Since losing Waldron they’ve only picked up 2 wins in the league.

The only thing they have going in their favour ahead of this final run is that they play King’s Lynn, Darlington, Southport and of course Blyth. So their fate really is in their own hands and they have a good opportunity to prove me and a few others wrong by winning those crucial 6 pointers.

Initially there were fears that they might be booted out the league as the ground isn’t up to scratch, but it seems like they’ve addressed the issue and will more than likely meet the deadline. Unless they do a Peterborough Sports and drop a brown envelope off at National League HQ.


After looking dead in the water just a few weeks ago, Darlington have been rejuvenated under Steve Watson. Somehow, he’s managed to recover the mess that Josh Gowling left him when he took the reins in December.

Darlington’s next 2 games are against Peterborough Sports and King’s Lynn, both of which are winnable. They also have Southport and Farsley Celtic in the coming weeks, so again they their fate is totally in their hands despite some tricky games with the likes of Chorley and Chester on the horizon.

For me, Darlo will beat the drop. They have boundless momentum behind them at the moment and will likely pick up at least 4 points from the next 2 games and if they drop off, I just don’t think that teams behind them have enough to surpass them now.

King’s Lynn

Having seen these play only just last weekend, I can understand why they’re in the relegation battle despite their good form of late.

After a dreadful first half of the season and a disastrous one off it, the drama at King’s Lynn settled down in January and they slowly began to strengthen. They’re still far from perfect, but under manager Adam Lakeland they’ve given themselves more than a fighting chance. Had they been able to play Bishop’s Stortford on Tuesday night, they’d likely have extended their run to 8 games unbeaten.

They’re involved in a lot of 4 games against other teams down in the shite, though they do have games against both Tamworth and Scunthrope to come in next weeks. Now though after splashing a bit of cash, these are just to good to go down.

It’s a shame though, as I wouldn’t have minded seeing these go down. I can’t say I’ve ever come across a pleasant human being from that par of the world.

Blyth Spartans

It’s hard to be positive after our collapse in recent weeks, but I still believe we aren’t going down. We have too much quality about us and are far better than the teams in the bottom 4 and some of the teams around us. Jon Shaw has all the pressure on him at the minute and he’s acutely aware of that fact.

In the coming weeks we of course have Southport, Peterborough Sports and what will probably feel like a cup final in Rushall Olympic Saturday 6 April. On the flip side though, we do have to play Chorley, Scunthorpe, Brackley and Curzon Ashton in the final few weeks of the season – and none of them will be easy games.

For me, I still think we have enough about us to claim another 10 points. Bar JJ O’Donnell, we should have a full strength side going into the final run in. Even if the club do make a change and remove Jon in the very near future, I still think we’re staying up – irregardless of who the manager is come 20th of April.

Mind, my predication does hinge on us beating Rushall. Given their away form this season and the quality we do have in the team, I don’t think that’s a big ask.

Farsley Celtic

I mean these are in it I suppose, though only just.

After a poor start to the season under Clayton Donaldson, they eventually turned it around as the campaign went on and almost have enough points on the board to beat the drop already. Despite them being a local(ish) team to us, I still would have happily seen them sink down to the NPL this season. A terrible fanbase, stadium and pitch, they’re quickly becoming this decade’s Vauxhall Motors.

While they haven’t scored many goals this season, defensively they’ve done well. Especially with Slovenian Under-21 international Zan-Luk Leban in goal, who joined on loan from Everton back in the summer. At the time of writing he ranks as the 5th best keeper in the league when it comes to clean sheets.

Farsley have games against the like of Southport, Darlington and Peterborough Sports – so they do have a big part to play in the relegation battle but really, they probably only need 6/7 points to secure survival.


Another team who looked who down and out a few months ago – ‘Port have completely turned it around and rescued themselves with former AFC Fylde and Rochdale manager Jim Bentley, after Liam Watson was finally given the boot. They now have new ownership and seemingly have cash to spend.

Former Peterborough United and Salford City man Danny Lloyd has been a huge coup for them, and will no doubt likely Marcus Carver and Danny Philliskirk who’s reunited with Bentley after joining ‘Port on loan from AFC Fylde.

A few more points on the board and these will be fine. Other than a home game with Scunthrope United, they have a rather easy run in with the likes of Blyth, Rushall, Farsley, Darlington and Bishop’s Stortford all still to come.

I don’t think Southport have to worry about a return to likes of Atherton Colliers anymore. They’re already just about safe and only need a few more points to secure safety which they should get with ease due to their form of late, notably beating AFC Chester City 1-0 on Tuesday night.

Peterborough Sports

It may seem daft including these here, but as they’re on the same points as Southport and have a lot of games to play against teams in and around the drop – so they could get in sucked into a battle to survive, especially when you take their recent form into account.

They have to play ALOT of the teams that are in and around the drop zone in coming weeks who for me, will be a lot more motivated to pick up points and secure wins than Sports, as I suspect they’re already thinking safety is already assured.

Chances are they’ll drop a few points across the next few weeks, but not enough to get really tangled in the fight for the drop.


Using that league result predictor (you can have a go yourself here if you like) I have Bishop Stortford going down with a real whimper, Gloucester dropping off and Banbury sinking like a stone in the next few weeks. Rushall will have a fighting chance, and really the winner of the game at Blyth will play a huge part in deciding who stays up – but I think Spartans will secure victory in that one, in a game that will probably feel more like a cup final on the day.

For us though, that bottom 4 is a fucking dream. Some really long and daunting away trips will be wiped off the map, and replaced with the likes of Radcliffe, Hyde and possibly even York again. Hopefully…