Non-League: September 20 round-up
The latest in a series of regular non-league football reviews
Nuneaton Town are now the outright leaders of the Skrill Premier, after their 2-1 win over Hereford United on Tuesday night, coupled with Cambridge United’s 1-1 draw away at Alfreton Town, moved them two points clear at the top of the table.
Victory over the Bulls marked a fifth win in succession for Kevin Wilkin’s side, a remarkable turnaround considering the Boro’ needed until Boxing Day to reach their current tally of 23 points last season.
In the last week, the 2011-12 Blue Square North playoff winners have extended their unbeaten start to the season to nine games, a feat made all the more impressive when considering the current state of the other team’s promoted that season: Hyde, Dartford and Woking, who are all currently battling it out in and around the relegation zone.
Louis Moult, the former Stoke City academy player who spent last season with Northampton Town, added yet further to his growing reputation with three further goals to take his season tally to eight.
He struck twice in the opening eight minutes last Saturday as Nuneaton beat the Darts 2-1, with Elliot Bradbrook netting the consolation for Tony Burman’s side. He followed that up with the winner against Hereford on Tuesday night, after Rod McDonald had cancelled out Wesley York’s opener.
Cambridge remain in second place and are also still unbeaten in their current league campaign, but have won one game less, and drawn one game more than their early promotion rivals.
Last Saturday a solitary Adam Cunnington strike was all that eased the U’s past lowly Gateshead, before on Tuesday night they were held at Alfreton, despite Ryan Donaldson’s second-half strike wiping out Paul Clayton’s early goal.
Kidderminster Harriers are in third place, having responded to the back-to-back defeats suffered over the August Bank Holiday by chalking up three successive victories.
However, they made hard work of their victory over Hyde last weekend, Tom Collins’ strike making them sweat over a 2-1 win. But goals from Anthony Malbon and Michael Gash were eventually enough.
It was far more comfortable for them in mid-week, as they breezed past Tamworth by three goals to nil, with James Dance, Gash and Malbon finding the net.
Lincoln City remain fourth. With just nine goals scored and five conceded in their opening nine matches, the Imps matches might not be proving the most exciting, but fans will be delighted to see their massive improvement after struggling for much of last year.
On Tuesday, a goal from full-back Tom Miller proved the difference between them and Southport, ending a run of two games without a win. The result moves them onto 17 points, one adrift of Kidderminster and six behind the league leaders.
Barnet currently occupy the final playoff spot and head a trio of teams on 16 points. It has been an inability to kills teams off that has cost the Bees’ so far this year however: while they have only lost one game, they have drawn four, and will perhaps be frustrated not to be close to the single automatic promotion spot.
Nonetheless, they will have been grateful to escape form their last match – away to Aldershot Town – with a point, as they came from 3-1 down to snatch a draw. Brett Williams put the Shots ahead inside three minutes, before Curtis Weston levelled things up ten minutes into the second-half.
Emmanuel Oyeleke re-established the home side’s lead before Williams seemingly made the points safe. But Edgar Davids’ side responded bravely, pulling a goal back through substitute Marciano Mengerink before Harry Crawford grabbed the leveller two minutes from time.
Halifax and Alfreton are only outside of the top five on goal difference. After losing 2-1 to Forest Green Rovers on Saturday, the Shaymen produced a wonderful response to dispatch last season’s play-off semi-finalists Grimsby Town 4-0. Marcus Carver and Danny Gardner (2) gave the home side a comfortable three goal half-time lead, while Adam Smith wrapped up the emphatic victory after 47 minutes.
Alfreton continued their impressive start, preceding their draw with Cambridge by defeating Macclesfield Town 1-0, Daniel Meadows scoring the only goal.
Pre-season favourites Forest Green are eighth, a point adrift of the top five, after their five match unbeaten run came to a startling end on Tuesday night, as they were thrashed 5-2 by Welling United in an extraordinary game at Park View Road.
Doug Bergqvist opened the scoring after just nine minutes for the Wings, before departing the game moments later due to injury. Thankfully for Jamie Day’s side his replacement, Loick Pires, needed just two minutes to find the net himself and double the home side’s advantage.
Anthony Barry pulled a goal back for the visitors in first-half stoppage time, before Yan Klukowski’s penalty levelled things just after the hour mark. That might have been the cue for things to turn the way of Dave Hockaday’s side, were it not for a red card to defender Dale Bennett just three minutes later, whose tackle also conceded a penalty.
Ross Lafayette dispatched the spot kick and Welling didn’t look back, adding further goals through Lee Clarke and Alex Dyer to wrap up an impressive win, despite the man advantage.
After a difficult start that saw them lose their opening three matches, Salisbury City are now ninth after producing a six match unbeaten run – from four of which they have emerged victorious.
Last weekend they defeated Chester 3-1 thanks to goals from Dan Fitchett, Elliott Frear and Clovis Kamdjo, which cancelled out Joe Heath’s opener for the visitors.
However, the game was somewhat marred by an ugly clash between the teams in stoppage time that resulted in both City debutant Angus McDonald (an 87th minute substitute) and Chester’s Shaquille McDonald, no relation, being sent-off.
Fitchett was on target again for the Whites on Tuesday night, but Sean Marks goal was enough to earn the visiting Braintree Town a point.
Despite their heavy defeat on Tuesday, Grimsby complete the top ten. Last weekend they defeated Braintree 1-0, with Lenell John-Lewis on target.
Hyde sit bottom of the table with just two points so far. The Tigers have alarmingly lost their last five matches including, most recently, a 2-0 defeat to Woking and a Kevin Betsy brace.
Macclesfield are also still without a win and have lost their last four matches. Perhaps crucially, they were edged out 2-1 by Chester in mid-week in something of an early-season relegation six-pointer.
Aidan Chippendale and Gareth Seddon gave the hosts an early two goal lead, and although Danny Whittaker pulled one back on the stroke of half-time, it proved to be nothing more than a consolation.
Aldershot remain in the relegation zone, although in reality they would be ninth were it not for their points deduction. They are unbeaten in their last three matches, and were in fact cruelly denied a third successive win by Barnet’s stunning comeback on Tuesday night.
Last weekend they defeated Hereford 2-0, with two goals coming from Brett Williams, who now has six this term – second in the goal-scoring charts behind Moult.
Dartford, perhaps surprisingly, complete the bottom four. The Darts, who spent much of last season in and around the play-off places before fading away in the closing weeks of their campaign, are without a win in their last four games.
In their last encounter they were thrashed 3-0 by a rejuvenated Luton Town, who had only managed five goals in their opening eight matches before hosting the strugglers. Paul Benson, Like Guttridge and Alex Lawless were all on target for the Hatters.
In Skrill South, four straight victories have kept Eastleigh a point clear at the top of the division. Most recently, impressive wins over Eastbourne Borough and Maidenhead United were registered, both of whom had started the season well.
Bromley remain hot on the Spitfires tails, defeating Staines Town and Concord Rangers since their defeat to Eastleigh two weeks ago.
Weston-super-Mare, Bishop’s Stortford and Basingstoke Town complete the playoff places at this early stage, sitting three, five and six points adrift of the leaders respectively – although the latter two sides have still got a game in hand.
Farnborough have now played four matches (taking seven points), and are half-way towards catching up with the rest of the field. They moved out of the bottom three with a 2-0 win over Boreham Wood, who replaced them in the relegation zone.
They are joined by Gosport Borough and Dorchester Town, who are both without a win this year.
Hednesford lead the way in Skrill North, although Altringham, who sit two points behind, do have a game in hand.
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