Connect in the back of the net

With 6 points up for grabs since the last column, there was a real chance to make moves up the table, consolidate what had already been earned or a slump in form and the nervous feeling of those behind you coming ever closer.

 

Biggest beneficiaries

Exeter, the leaders, were one of the biggest beneficiaries picking up maximum points although they were made to work hard at Barnet having gone behind and not netting the winner until the 94th minute.

The six point haul has enabled Exeter to become the only unbeaten side left in the division, hold onto top spot and open up a three point gap from the rest. In Reuben Reid, not only do they have the division’s current top scorer, but also experience of promotion from with league with near neighbours Plymouth Arygle.

As previously mentioned, Notts County are on a superb run of form, catapulting them into 2nd spot behind Exeter and proving maybe that had Kevin Nolan been given the change to manage properly at Leyton Orient, they may well still be a Football League club.

 

Tight contest

And behind those two is where the division becomes tight again. Just three points separates 3rd and 14th, and within that bunch some sides have found the winning formula again.

Coventry and Lincoln have both made their way into the playoff places, the Sky Blues seemingly putting the very early season small blip to one side, while the Imps appear to be coming to terms with League Two and how to work it in your favour.

Whilst those two sides are on the up, it’s the turn of Newport and Stevenage to stutter slightly although County did pick up another 1-0 win to arrest the slight slide and maintain a top 7 place.

 

Indifferent form

Following them is a whole host of clubs in very indifferent form, the likes of Barnet and Crewe have flirted with the play off places, but both suffered midweek defeats, but not enough damage done to see a huge gap develop between them and the higher echelons.

Of the pre-season favourites, Swindon appear to be having the toughest time currently, and while a weekend win proved a valuable three points, a midweek defeat sees them sitting in the clutch of clubs either ready to pounce or ready to slide, and with some of the surprise results we’ve seen already this season, it’s difficult to predict which way teams will go.

 

Alarm bells in the bottom half

As you move further down the table, and to the bottom, alarm bells might just be ringing in the minds of a few managers.

Port Vale are firmly entrenched in a rut, 5 defeats on the spin and Michael Brown’s side are suffering a relegation hangover of large proportions, and the pressure must be beginning to crank up at Vale Park.

Having seen managers get the sack after just 4 games in the Premier League, 7 games in and Brown must be working overtime to ensure he isn’t the next statistic.

Forest Green Rovers have dropped into the bottom two and unlike their ex-National League 2016-17 counterparts, they don’t seem to have the measure of this division yet, but will Dale Vince panic or will Mark Cooper be given time with his squad to find their feet and begin to pick up points?

 

Clustered league table

As with the top of the table, there are a few club clustered together.

Three points separates 23rd and 18th meaning no one is yet beginning to drift away from the rest and that will give hope to those in a bad run of form, one or two wins as shown by Barnet, Crewe and Crawley to name but a few can lift you 6 or 7 places up the league.

The game that sticks out this weekend is the bottom two clashing at Vale Park in a game where both sides need the three points to kickstart a miserable time so far this season.

Crewe have the challenge to end Exeter’s unbeaten record, but that won’t be easy at St James Park, while Swindon, Accrington and Carlisle will be looking to get things back on the winning trail, edging us another match closer to the 10 game marker where it all begins to take shape.

 

Written by Trevor Knell

Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37

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