The National League is showing no signs of stopping throwing up the odd result or scoreline that makes you raise your eyebrows.
At the beginning of the season I reckoned there were 14 of the 23 sides harbouring hopes of either challenging for the title or getting into the play-offs. There are probably two or three of that 14 who will feel they’re a little bit further away than they wanted to be, but for most putting two or three results together would propel themselves into the thick of the race.
There is of course plenty of time left to make a move with over half the season to go and constant unpredictability from week to week does make it hard to pick winners in an accumulator!
Having watched Grimsby host Southend on Friday night the Mariners looked nervous despite the perfect start of an early goal and their current league position and had the visitors been able to show some potency in front of goal they certainly would have deserved to come away from the game with something.
The only two sides above Grimsby are two very good sides. Just three defeats between Boreham Wood and Chesterfield so far this season but neither side have pulled away from the rest. Kabongo Tshimanga who moved from Wood to the Spireites in the summer will be the difference when it comes to the final shake up, 16 goals already so far coupled with a strong defence that has registered nine clean sheets, they are the team to beat in my opinion.
Luke Garrard though knows Wood can compete with these big budget boys despite not getting the support through the turnstiles their position dictates they should. Despite the loss of Tshimanga’s goals they’ve shared them around a bit more and still plundered 25 in their 16 games.
Underneath them Bromley and Halifax continue to impress, the former unbeaten in nine now and seemingly having kept hold of manager Andy Woodman. Neither side can claim to do battle on budgets, but like Bromley Pete Whild does a fantastic job with team spirit at The Shay they constantly defy the odds and compete at the top end of the table.
Once you get beyond the top five comes the inconsistency, Notts County the prime example of pulling off the expected result and then fail to click away to Eastleigh. Taking nothing away from Ben Strevens’ team, they are strong at the Silverlake Stadium with only a single defeat so far this season.
You can also add Dagenham, Stockport and Wrexham to the inconsistent pile, the Red Dragons quite an enigma. Unbeaten at home but only five goals scored, yet on the road 24 goals in the net. County of course will be looking to stabilise and become more resilient under Dave Challinor.
Solihull under Neal Ardley are right on the cusp and after a good run to put them in the play-off zone they haven’t won in three, the win at the weekend for Chesterfield at the Moors putting them back on the top of the table.
Altrincham have lost their way a little over the last few weeks and dropped to mid table but a fine win at Weymouth might kick start their season once again, as stated above two good results this week puts them back in the mix as we enter December.
The same goes for Woking, Yeovil and the already mentioned Eastleigh, two wins by next weekend they’re knocking on the play-off door. If the Spitfires can improve their away form which is their achilles heel it will put them in great shape, consistency or the lack of is what’s holding all three back so far this season.
Barnet under Dean Brennan are in play-off form, averaging two points per game in his eight game spell. Clean sheets however are few and far between and without an abundance of goals raining in, the Bees do need to tighten up and start to put games to bed when on top.
Just underneath them the common theme is a lack of away wins holding back about four teams. With a round of midweek games though to come there is opportunity along with the games next weekend to make some movement but they are the sides currently at the wrong end of the form table.
As we’ve seen though on enough occasions there’s likely to be one or two results you don’t expect in each round of games.
The bottom four are a little adrift of the rest and although Southend should have added a point to their tally they know more bodies are needed in the building. Their ask to make the play-offs is too great and the aim surely must be to avoid yet another relegation to the National League South.
Dover have a heck of a lot to do with no wins after 15 games and with minus nine points to make up, it’s a totally wasted season for them and their supporters and no wonder they’re not attracting much more then 500 fans per game.
Kings Lynn will be wondering how they didn’t pick up a third away win at Bromley, leading twice but coming out with a 3-2 defeat. Unable to win at home so far the Linnets are certainly struggling this season and haven’t won in their last six games. Just above them Aldershot aren’t fairing much better, only a little improvement if any since the sacking of Danny Searle and it’s looking like a long season for the Shots. Once again the budgets are doing some of the talking in certain parts of this table, but as shown by some it’s not impossible to compete, you just need that rub of the green.