Non-League Notes: Why the promotion favourites are not having it their way

With the season now a month old, the Vanarama National League favourites have all endured a contrasting set of results.

The bookies favourites in Salford City started off live in front of the BT Sport cameras with a 1-1 draw and following it up with successive defeats saw many people thinking City will find it harder than they first imagined.

But since then a 6-game unbeaten run has propelled Graham Alexander’s side just outside of the play off spots and beginning to justify their favourites tags, although they still have some way to go to match the start of both Harrogate Town and Leyton Orient.

Second favourites Chesterfield have certainly felt the roller coaster ride of a football season all inside the first four weeks. Expected by their supporters to challenge for an immediate return to the Football League, the Spireites started off well enough with 3 straight wins opening the season and looking like they would be well placed to push on and mount a title challenge.

But since that third game, the wheels have spectacularly come off for Martin Allen’s team. Six successive defeats have seen Allen concede the title is beyond them this year already and supporters are beginning to question whether the leadership of both the club and the team are in the wrong hands.

It remains to be seen how long the patience levels remain and whether Allen can find the magic formula to arrest the slide and get his team firing again.

At Barnet, John Still’s outfit are slowly gelling as a team and after a difficult start to the season seem to be on the right track. No wins in their first five games did see some supporter unrest at The Hive, but not as bad as now being seen at Chesterfield.

After Tuesday nights 1-0 win over Bromley, the Bees have won four in row and are now marching up the table towards the play off places with the management team having seemingly settled on their first eleven and young striker Jack Barham coupled with experienced target man Byron Harrison appearing to blossom alongside each other, they could well feature if they can keep their current unbeaten run together.

Out in front are two unbeaten teams for these three talked out sides to catch, Harrogate Town and Leyton Orient, whilst there are number of teams who have only lost once so far this season. In all there is only 4-5 points separating thirteen sides and a lot more football to be played.

It’s already looking to be a long season for sides at the bottom of the league, Braintree Town are the only side yet to win a game while Dover and Dagenham are both only one victory better off. Aldershot are probably the surprising name in the bottom four after their fantastic season in 2017/18, but there is plenty of games for Gary Waddock to turn it around if he is given the time to.

Maidstone Utd didn’t afford the time to Jay Saunders to arrest the Stones slide, despite the manager having shown loyalty to the club amid the interest from newly promoted Macclesfield Town and so far, there hasn’t been an improvement with caretaker manager Steve Watt in charge.

Whilst titles aren’t won or lost in September and relegation isn’t confirmed, getting into a rut in this league can prove costly, the likes of York City, Stockport County and Torquay Utd are testament to this and as both Orient and Hartlepool found last season, this league is unforgiving, and you have to adapt quickly or be resigned to at least another year before you celebrate promotion.


Written by Trevor Knell

Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37

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