The National League season review 2023-24

chesterfield 2024 national league champions

The National League season 2023/24 had its fair share of ups and downs, with excitement and tension. However, who were the teams that thrilled their fans, and who disappointed them?

Chesterfield cruised to the title

The undisputed champions Chesterfield secured their spot in the EFL with a staggering 96 points, a whopping 12 points ahead of their closest rivals, Barnet.

The Spireites achieved automatic promotion despite losing four of their last five games of the National League. They had been in the fifth tier for six seasons after relegation from League Two in season 2017/18.

Chesterfield had shown promising signs in recent campaigns of winning promotion by finishing in the leagues play-offs in the last three seasons, including losing last season’s play-off final against Notts County in season 2022/23.

Paul Cook’s team were highly potent in attack, scoring an incredible 106 goals in the fifth tier. The goals were spread out throughout the team, with their top goal scorer, veteran striker Will Grigg, who was on fire, scoring 24 goals in 38 appearances in the fifth tier.

Irish forward Joe Quigley also scored 12 goals for the Derbyshire outfit, while midfielders Tony Naylor and Armando Dobra also each scored ten goals.

Strangely, despite the best efforts of young Everton loanee Harry Tyrer in goal, the team had the worst defensive record among the teams that finished in the league’s top seven.

Chesterfield head coach Cook is no stranger to winning promotions in various divisions. In his first spell with the club, he helped Chesterfield to promotion from League Two in 2013/14.

He repeated the feat in 2016/17 with Portsmouth. In the following season with Wigan Athletic, the Liverpool-born boss guided the Latics to promotion to the Championship.

Which teams made the play-off spots in the National League?

Barnet finished second place in the table and was the closest team to threaten Chesterfield’s chances of automatic promotion. Ultimately, the Bees finished 12 points adrift of the National League champions.

Dean Brennan’s team were the second highest scorers in the fifth tier, with veteran National League forward Nicke Kabamba scoring 26 goals, a season tally bettered only by Eastleigh striker Paul McCallum, who bagged 31 goals.

In the end, it wasn’t to be for Barnet, who has spent the majority of their existence in the EFL. Unfortunately for the team from the English capital, they also suffered a 4-0 defeat against Solihull Moors in the semi-final of the playoffs

Bromley finished third place in the table, trailing Barnet by five points. In recent years, they have regularly finished in the top half of the National League table. However, they have never featured in the football league in their long history. They will get their chance on May 5th at Wembley to make history.

Andy Woodman’s team built their promotion challenge on a solid defence. Only Southend United had a better defensive record during the regular season in the fifth tier.

Altrincham finished fourth place and was due to play Gateshead in the National League quarter-final play-offs.

The north east team were denied the chance to take part in the playoffs despite finishing in sixth place due to an issue with their stadium. However, they suffered a 3-1 semi-final play-off loss against Bromley.

Solihull Moors enjoyed an impressive campaign, finishing fifth place in the table. Solihull finished in the league’s top seven for the third time in eight years in the National League.

The club were only formed in 2007, and like Bromley, could well make history by earning promotion on 5th May. The Moors defeated Halifax Town before seeing off Barnet with a thumping 4-0 win over Barnet in the play-off semi-finals.

Halifax Town were the team that occupied the final play-off spot. However, they finished a massive 27 points adrift of league winners Chesterfield.

The season saw the Shaymen finish in the play-off spots for the fifth time in 11 campaigns. As previously mentioned, their promotion hopes ended with a defeat in the play-offs against Bromley.

Who suffered relegation from the National League?

While some teams have thrived in the English fifth tier, many have struggled and will not feature in the National League next season after finishing in the league’s bottom four.

Oxford City, Dorking Wanderers, Kidderminster Harriers and Boreham Wood all suffered the drop to the sixth tier.

Oxford City finished bottom of the table, a massive 20 points adrift of 20th place York City and safety. The main reason for their relegation was their poor defence, as City conceded a huge 94 goals over the season.

Boreham Wood will be the most frustrated team to suffer relegation out of the four. They finished just a point adrift of safety. Luke Garrard’s team suffered relegation despite finishing the season with a four-game unbeaten run in the fifth tier.

Dorking Wanderers managed and owned by the infamous Marc White, conceded 85 goals in their maiden National League campaign. Wanderers struggled towards the end of the season, failing to win in their last 11 games in the fifth tier.

Kidderminster Harriers was the other team to suffer relegation from the National League. The Harriers finished 22nd in the table after winning just once in their last ten matches in the fifth tier.

When is the National League play-off final?

The National League campaign comes to its end on Sunday, 5th May, with the play-off final between Bromley and Solihull Moors at Wembley.

Both teams are looking to make their history by booking their place in the English Football League for the first time. Like the rest of the National League campaign, the play-off final promises to be a thrilling encounter.

Which team has been your favourite in the National League in season 2023/24?

By Bob