James Meir takes an in-depth look at Barnet's 2014/15 Conference Premier rivals...
Kidderminster have lacked consistency over recent years. Last season saw them set a blistering pace early on seeing them as high as second place, but they faded after the sacking of Steve Burr and Andy Thorn and ended up finishing 7th on 72 points. Burr’s former number to Gary Whild has been appointed as manager and is now faced with the task of getting them back into the Football League.
As a result, the Harriers have been very busy in the summer transfer window. Whild has recruited 25-year-old Gibraltar international striker Reece Styche from Forest Green, where he scored 34 goals in 109 appearances. They have also contracted 14 other players, including the re-signing of goalkeeper Jasbir Singh and right-back Jared Hodgkiss from Forest Green.
Against Kidderminster last season, the Bees won one and lost one of the two meetings in the Conference. A Luisma Villa goal gave the Bees a 1-0 victory at The Hive last November but the Harriers won 1-0 in March at Aggborough, a match which saw Graham Stack sent off late on and Michael Gash get the goal for Harriers.
Lincoln have endured a tough few years, getting relegated from the Football League in 2010/11 followed by three lower to mid-table finishes in the Conference. Garry Simpson is the Imps’ fifth manager in the last three seasons, so stability will be key if Lincoln are to progress up the table.
Business this summer has been limited, signing 26-year-old Southport midfielder Karl Ledsham who scored 24 goals in 140 league appearances for the Sandgrounders since his move there in November 2010. Simpson has also managed to recruit 21-year-old striker Jordan Burrow following his release from Stevenage, where he made 23 appearances and scored three goals. The latest addition is 23-year-old defender Tony Diagne from Morecambe who has signed a two-year deal following a loan spell in 2012/13.
The Bees played out two score draws with Lincoln last season. The first was 1-1 at The Hive with Keanu Marsh Brown scoring a fantastic solo effort before Jon Nolan equalised in the 94th minute. The last game of the season saw both sides play out a thrilling 3-3 draw at Sincil Bank where the Bees were 3-1 down but rallied in the second half with goals from Iffy Allen and Jake Hyde.
Macclesfield have failed to challenge for promotion since their relegation from the Football League in 2012, finishing 15th on 61 points last season. Although they occupied a play-off spot for most of the 2012/2013 season, they were unable to hold on to it and fell away towards the end of an otherwise promising campaign.
Majority shareholder Amar Alkadhi has managed to pay off all of Macclesfield’s debt and will maintain ownership of the club. This has meant that Macclesfield have yet to do business in the summer window with the only real change coming in the coaching staff, where John Askey’s assistant Efe Sodje has left his post. Striker Scott Boden remains however, having scored 18 goals for the Silkmen last season.
Macclesfield were the first side to defeat Barnet at the Hive last season, winning 2-1 last September as Connor Jennings scored a brace. At Moss Rose back in March, two goals in the last ten minutes gave Macclesfield a 2-0 victory.