Small Club of the Week – December Review

It’s been a while since we just reviewed the clubs that end up in this series. Since there hasn’t been much non-league action – at least featuring the clubs that tend to end up in this series – we figured it was as good a time as any to look back at the past couple months of clubs in this series.

Paris F.C.

Our most recent Small Club of the Week, Paris F.C. currently plays in Ligue 2 in France. After a few decades of struggles, the club has looked strong the past two seasons, and look to be on the cusp of returning to Ligue 1 for the first time in forty years.

Currently, the club is in eighth place with 28 points (7-7-3 record). They are two points behind Lorient for fifth place and a spot in the promotion play-off quarterfinals, and six points behind Brest for second place and automatic promotion to Ligue 1. They are in the midst of a three-match unbeaten streak (2-1-0) and their next match will be against Grenoble, a club above them in the table.

Slough Town F.C.

Slough Town received notice because they upset Sutton United in the First Round proper of the FA Cup tournament, becoming one of six teams from Tier 6 to make it through to the Second Round. Their stay in the Second Round was short-lived, however, as they lost at home to League One club Gillingham 1-0.

In National League South play, Slough Town finds itself mid-table in 14th place with 24 points (7-3-6), though, partially due to their success in the FA Cup, have played only 16 matches on the season, the fewest in the league. Now that they are eliminated from the FA Cup, however, they should find some time to start making up those postponed matches, including two over the next six days.

Stockport County F.C.

Just like Slough Town, Stockport County caught our eye because of an upset in the FA Cup first round (a stunning 3-1 road victory over League Two club Yeovil Town). They, like Slough Town, also lost in the second round, falling 1-0 to National League club Barnet.

In National League North play, Stockport County is currently in 12th place with 24 points (6-6-5), but have also played fewer matches than the rest of the league. They will also be playing catchup over the next few days, with two matches over the next six days.

Red Star Belgrade (2nd Award)

Red Star Belgrade will be playing for a third-place finish in Group C and a move over to the Europa League knockout phase. They host Paris Saint-Germain on 11 December, and are hoping to avoid another 6-1 loss to the French club. They have found success at home during the group stage, with a draw against Napoli and a shocking 2-0 win versus Liverpool, so they are hoping for a win and a Liverpool loss so they can advance to Europa League. Otherwise, they will be heading home from continental competition.

Back home in the Serbian SuperLiga, they remain unbeaten (17-2-0) and in first place by nine points. They are also through to the quarterfinals of the Serbian Cup, so chances are, they will be competing in Europe again next season as well.

Burton Albion

Burton Albion joins Middlesbrough as the only clubs from outside the Premier League still in the mix for the EFL club. Unfortunately, one of them will be going home during the quarterfinals, as they face off against each other on 18 December in Middlesbrough.

The Brewers were relegated from the Championship after last season, but hope of returning after one season in League One seem to be fading fast. The club finds themselves in 16th place with 24 points (7-3-9), though they have played one fewer match than most of the other clubs. They host Shrewsbury Town, the club directly above them in the league table this weekend, followed by 12th place club Fleetwood Town next week.

Hampton & Richmond Borough

The National League South club caught our eye when they advanced to the first round of the FA Cup for the first time in a decade. They then immediately lost to League Two club Oldham Athletic. There’s always next year!

In league play, Hampton & Richmond Borough are currently tied with Slough Town with 24 points (7-3-8), and have played two more matches on the season. They are placed in 16th place, however, due to their -3 goal differential on the season.

HJK Helsinki

We noted that HJK Helsinki had clinched the Veikkausliiga, the top division of football in Finland. This league title made them among the first clubs to claim a spot in next year’s Champions League competition. They’ve since completed their season, ending with 78 points (24-6-3) and a staggering +42 goal differential. Their three losses were all 2-1 losses, so they truly were dominant all season.

Next up for HJK is the group stage of the Suomon Cup in January. They finished second last year in the same competition, and winning it in advance of the next league season would qualify them for at least the 2020-21 Europa League (unless they head to Champions League that season by winning the next Veikkausliiga season.

Dunston UTS

The Tier 9 club caught notice for a victory over Tier 6 club Chester FC in the FA Cup Third Qualifying Round. They followed that victory up with a loss in the fourth qualifying round to National League club 4-0, so they ended just short of reaching the competition proper. Nevertheless, it was the second time they reached the fourth qualifying round in their history, and set the record for attendance at Wellington Road.

In league play, they are currently undefeated and in first place in the Northern League Division One, with 41 points (13-2-0). They have also played the fewest matches in the league, with most other clubs having played 17 matches on the season. If they can maintain this level of performance for the rest of the season, they may find themselves promoted.

Next time, we’ll be back with another small club, but feel to reach out if your favorite small club should appear in this space.

Until next time…

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