Title races, play-off chases, relegation battles.

When you get to this time of year the result starts to become more important than the performance. The title races, play-off chases and relegation battles are heading into the final third of the season and there are some fantastic games still to come in all three National League divisions.

Stockport County are in the kind of form that almost brought Hartlepool the title last season under the same Dave Challinor. 11 wins from the last 12 games has been a phenomenal run of form and it’s beginning to look like the title is theirs to lose now. Boreham Wood fans would argue otherwise given their three games in hand and an unbeaten home record but you would say they have to put together this exact run of the form County are on and hope the Hatters lose a few, it’s a big ask for any club.

There are a clutch of chasing clubs in the play-off’s and I think again it would take a really excellent run from Dagenham downwards for any club to break into the top 7, Bromley and Grimsby just outside those places I feel the only ones who can do some damage to those currently occupying the promotion dream spots.

Dover we know are all but confirmed to go down, I think there is too much for Kings Lynn to do despite a couple of games in hand, those two wins would only draw them level with Weymouth directly above them, the South Coast club also need to string together a number of wins to give themselves a chance of survival meaning those just above shouldn’t need too many more wins to secure top division football next season.

The North has a three way race for the title although that does rely on games in hand being won as well. Gateshead hold the advantage with points in the bag but both Brackley and Kidderminster are still in with a good shout of automatic promotion, underneath those three the play-off race is certainly far from clear cut.

Whilst AFC Fylde, Southport and Chorley have a little bit of a gap to the others, you can say as far down as Spennymoor in 14th place will still be eyeing a spot. I’ve gone as low as that due to their games in hand and although there is an allowance needed for those in between them to have to lose a few games the impossible it isn’t at all.

At the bottom with very few clubs having more than a game in hand on others and goal difference being quite tight that battle is going to move up and down every week. Farsley Celtic who occupy the current bottom spot have a far inferior goal difference to the rest and will need to do more than most I feel to escape, but level on points and just above them AFC Telford are without an away win all season, it could come down to whoever can win the most home games between those two or alternatively someone can easily get dragged into the mess at the bottom.

Whilst Dorking Wanderers win over 2nd placed Maidstone Utd at the weekend strengthened their position in the South division, the Stones game in hand can still bring the Kent club to within three points of the leaders. Recent form for those underneath these two have seen them all fall away and at one stage you could have thrown a blanket over five or six clubs separated by a minimal amount of points.

The play-off race once again is as every bit exciting as the North division with Hemel Hempstead down in 11th place not thinking they’re out of the race, a lot of wins needed but it’s still a possibility. It only takes a couple of wins for those just outside to be inside and for others to get themselves closer but for some it will need a fantastic run of wins against others managing an awful run of defeats at the same time.

At the bottom Tonbridge’s win over Billericay on Saturday was huge in both cases, breathing space for the former, the latter knowing their game in hand has huge importance in closing the gap to a manageable three points to those above them. Whilst an 11 point gap from the bottom to those in 15th place might be enough to see the likes of Hampton & Richmond Borough and Concord Rangers from getting dragged into the dogfight we all know football has that unpredictability and somewhere from within these three divisions one or more will surprise us all and spring from the pack or drop more than we expected, it’s all a case of who can keep their nerve for the next two months and come up trumps.

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