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National League notes: Dagenham to Guiseley

Ahead of the new season, Ruth Tunnell has been finding out what our opponents have been up to over the summer. Here’s part two of her National League notes…

Dagenham and Redbridge

After nine years in the football league, Dagenham and Redbridge were relegated back to the National League at the end of last season.

Former Maidstone manager John Still, who took the Stones up into the football league, is in charge at the Daggers and unsurprisingly he has had a busy summer. One of his first tasks was to release 11 players but he has made a number of replacements over recent months.

Amongst those coming in are midfielder Leo Donnellan, who was with Queens Park Rangers, and defender Craig Robson. Robson has been with Bognor Regis Town of the Isthmian Premier Division over the past three seasons.

Dover Athletic

Maidstone United’s former Ryman League South rivals Dover Athletic enjoyed an excellent 2015/16 season. The part-timers finished in fifth position with 80 points from 46 matches although they went onto lose to Forest Green Rovers in the play-off semi finals.

One of the Whites’ recent signings is a former Forest Green Rovers player. Goalkeeper Steve Arnold played 45 matches for Rovers last season but was released after their play-off final defeat against Grimsby Town.

Mitchell Pinnock, who was with the Stones briefly last season, has committed to another season at Crabble. However, there has been some disappointment for Dover this summer as star striker Stefan Payne has signed for Championship side Barnsley. Payne had two successful seasons with Dover Athletic scoring 32 times in 50 appearances.

Eastleigh

Eastleigh are another side the Stones have encountered in a cup competition in recent years as the Spitfires knocked Maidstone out of the FA Trophy with a 2-1 victory in November 2013.

And Eastleigh enjoyed some success in the FA Cup last season. They held Championship side Bolton Wanderers to a draw at home before going out 3-2 in a replay.

This summer the Spitfires have brought in Connor Essam. The defender was at Leyton Orient but had been out on loan at Dover Athletic last season and before that he had also spent time with Dartford and Bishops Stortford on loan.

Forest Green Rovers

Forest Green were defeated in the play-off final last season losing to Grimsby Town. Rovers went down 3-1 to the Mariners at Wembley.

Following that loss, Forest Green have seen a number of changes to their squad including the loss of Kurtis Guthrie to Colchester. The striker scored 12 times last season to help Rovers into a play-off spot. And forward Jon Parkin has also departed despite having scored 44 times in 96 appearances.

But Forest Green have also made several signings including striker Matt Tubbs. The former Bournemouth player joins from League Two side Portsmouth after his contract there was cancelled by mutual consent.

Gateshead

Gateshead finished in ninth place last season. The Tynesiders took 67 points from 46 matches recording 19 victories in the process.

Mitch Brundle has opted for a long move north. The midfielder was with Braintree Town last season and had made 87 appearances for the club but cited the fact that he thought that Gateshead would be in and around the play-offs for his transfer.

Also joining the Tynesiders is another midfielder, Antony Sweeney. Sweeney was released by League Two side Carlisle United and had made 444 with Hartlepool United over 13 years.

Guiseley

Guiseley have been warming up for the new season with a number of fixtures against higher league opposition.

In recent weeks the Lions have lost 1-0 to Huddersfield Town, drawn 1-1 with Bradford City and were then been beaten 2-0 by Barnsley. Guiseley are also due to face local rivals Leeds United at home on 22 July.

Compared with other National League sides, Guiseley have had a relatively quiet summer transfer wise. However, they have signed defenders Ashley Palmer and Danny East who join from North Ferriby United and Grimsby Town respectively. Also arriving at Nethermoor is midfielder Javan Vidal who comes in from Wrexham after starting his career with Manchester City’s youth academy

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